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Photo Credit: U.S. Army Garrison Casey/Flickr

Child Gun Deaths Greatly Outnumber Police and Military Gun Deaths in the US

Education officials in Texas have been compelled to issue low attendance wavers to at least 16 school districts so far this school year. These districts have reported at least 10 percent lower student attendance compared to the previous year because an increasing number of students are missing school out of concern for their personal safety.

These trends are hardly unwarranted. Parents and their children in Texas and elsewhere in the United States are acutely aware of the frequent shootings taking place at schools and other public places. But is that just a matter of a sensationalist national media stoking a growing sense of paranoia? As convenient as that would be, this isn’t the case.

New research from Florida Atlantic University’s Schmidt College of Medicine shows that, in general, the number of school-aged victims of gun violence have been quickly rising in recent years. The study looked at figures between 1999 and 2017, discovering that 38,942 children aged 5 to 18 were killed with firearms during this period.

The study breaks down the figures by two age groups, 5 to 14 year olds and 15 and 18 year olds. The first group had an average of 340 firearm deaths yearly during this period, whereas the second group had an incredible 2,050 such deaths annually.

The authors of the study point out that since 1999, the first statistically significant spike in youth gun fatalities occurred in 2009. A second came in 2014 and has continued to climb since then. By 2017, 20 percent of deaths in the 15 to 18 year old age group came from gun deaths.

In a separate report from the Centers for Disease Control, as of 2017 gun deaths became the third leading cause of fatalities among minors in the United States. Their estimates are lower, however, finding that almost 1,300 youths died from firearm injuries annually.

It can be difficult to grasp these figures. Going by the numbers produced by the study from Schmidt College of Medicine, youth firearm deaths in the United States are between 600 and 900 percent higher than they are in comparably developed nations. Even in fields where firearm deaths are generally understood to be especially high, such as law enforcement and the military, gun fatalities are substantially lower.

As Dr. Charles Hennekens explains, “It is sobering that in 2017, there were 144 police officers who died in the line of duty and about 1,000 active duty military throughout the world who died” from firearms.

Active shooter incidents are, not coincidentally, on the rise in recent years as well. Per FBI data, there were significant spikes in active shooter incidents — public shootings requiring law enforcement response — in both 2016 and 2017.

It is incredible that Americans and their children are perishing at such high rates to gun violence — should public places like our schools really be war zones when most voters support various forms of basic gun control?

This article was originally published on Care2.com on April 22, 2019.

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Writing about various things (mostly politics & social issues) for more than six years. Freelancer for hire.

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