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Firearms--Injury Statistics and Incidence Rates

The following statistics are the latest available from the National SAFE KIDS Campaign:

Injury and death rates:

  • The number of unintentional deaths from firearms declined 72 percent from 1987 to 2000.

  • In 2004, approximately 40 children died from unintentional firearm-related injuries; more than half between the ages of 10 and 14.

Where and when:

  • Most unintentional firearm-related deaths among children occur in or around the home; 50 percent at the home of the victim, and 40 percent at the home of a friend or relative.

  • The presence of a firearm in the home increases the risk of unintentional firearm-related death among children (especially if the firearm is loaded and kept unlocked).

  • Most unintentional firearm-related child deaths involve guns that were loaded and accessible, and occur when children play with the gun.

  • More than one-half of firearm owners keep their firearms loaded and ready for use at least some of the time.

  • Most unintentional shootings among children occur in the late afternoon, on the weekend, during summer months, and during the holiday season, when children are most likely to be unsupervised.

  • Rural areas have higher incidences of unintentional firearm-related injuries, as well as higher rates of firearm ownership.

Who:

  • Approximately 3.3 million children in the U.S. live in households with firearms that are, at times, kept loaded and unlocked.

  • Boys are more likely to suffer unintentional firearm-injuries or die from an unintentional shooting than girls. Nearly 80 percent of children ages 14 and under who die from unintentional shootings are boys.

  • As many as 75 percent to 80 percent of first and second graders know where their parents' gun is kept.

  • Children as young as 3 years old may be strong enough to pull the trigger of many handguns.

Online Medical Reviewer: newMentor board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Online Medical Reviewer: Roux, Susan L., ARNP
Date Last Reviewed: 4/16/2013
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