#2: Children Gun Deaths Are At Epidemic Proportions

Myth #2: Children Gun Deaths Are At Epidemic Proportions

1. Fact: Twice as many children are killed playing football in school than are murdered by guns. That’s right. Despite what media coverage might seem to indicate, there are more deaths related to high school football than guns. In a recent three year period, twice as many football players died from hits to the head, heat stroke, etc. (45), as compared with students who were murdered by firearms (22) during that same time period.[1]

2. Fact: More children will die in a car, drown in a pool, or choke on food than they will by firearms. As seen by the chart on the previous page, children are at a 2,000 percent greater risk from the car in their driveway, than they are by the gun in their parents’ closet. Children are almost 7 times more likely to drown than to be shot, and they are 130 percent more likely to die from choking on their dinner.[2]

3. Fact: Accidental gun deaths among children have declined by over 50 % in 25 years, even though the population (and the gun stock) has continued to increase. [3]

4. Fact: Despite the low number of gun accidents among children, most of these fatalities are not truly “accidents.” According to Dr. Gary Kleck, many such accidents are misnamed — those “accidents” actually resulting from either suicides or extreme cases of child abuse.[4] Dr. Kleck also notes that, “Accidental shooters were significantly more likely to have been arrested, arrested for a violent act, arrested in connection with alcohol, involved in highway crashes, given traffic citations, and to have had their driver’s license suspended or revoked.”[5]

[1]The University of North Carolina conducts yearly surveys to determine the number of high school football fatalities. See David Williamson, “New study finds 18 football players died in 1999 season, eight paralyzed,” University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (August 14, 2000) at http://www.eurekalert.org/releases/unc-nsf081100.html. For school firearms deaths, see Dr. Ronald D. Stephens, “School Associated Violent Deaths,” The National School Safety Center Report (September 22, 2000) at http://www.NSSC1.org.

[2]National Safety Council, Injury Facts: 2000 Edition, p. 10, 11, 18.

[3]From 1970 to 1991, the number of fatal gun accidents for children aged 0-14 declined from 530 to 227. Kopel, Guns: Who Should Have Them? at 311. And according to the National Safety Council, the decline has continued as there were only 142 fatal gun accidents for children in that age group in 1997. National Safety Council, Injury Facts: 2000 Edition, at 18.

[4]Kleck, Point Blank, at 271, 276.

[5]Ibid., at 286.