With only three days remaining in 2022, the Gun Violence Archive has counted 6,054 gun-related injuries and deaths among U.S. children aged 17 and younger this year so far. The count includes gun assault deaths, suicide deaths by firearm, deaths due to accidental firearm discharge, legal intervention leading to firearm death, and firearm deaths from undetermined causes.
As of Wednesday, 307 children under age 12 were killed by guns and 670 were injured nationwide this year. Among children ages 12-17, 1,331 were killed and 3,734 were injured this year.
The 6,054 kids harmed in 2022 represent a 5.7 percent increase over the 2021 total (5,708) and a 14.7 percent increase over the 2020 total (5,160).
In 2020, firearms became the leading cause of death among children ages 19 and below, the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) wrote in an October 2022 report. Firearm-related death rates were highest amongst Black and American Indian and Alaska Native youth, KFF found. While school shootings account for only a small number of child injuries and death, the number of firearm-related suicides among youth has increased steadily since 2011, the report added.
A 2019 report from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security found that a majority of the guns used by young people come from the homes of parents or close relatives. Only 23 states and Washington, D.C., have laws requiring gun owners to lock their guns away, out of the reach of children.
It’s quite rare for parents to face criminal charges when their children harm themselves or others using their firearms. That’s because the laws aimed at preventing children from accessing guns aren’t always enforced by local prosecutors, legal experts told NPR.
President Joe Biden (D) signed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act in June 2022. The legislation strengthened background checks for young adults and reduced gun access for individuals with histories of domestic violence. The legislation also expanded school-based mental health services for providing trauma care to students in need.
However, it remains to be seen whether the Republican-led House will pass additional gun control measures when they take control of the lower congressional chamber in 2023.
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