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Stricter gun laws linked to fewer child firearm injuries

Gun control has been one of the most heated debates in the United States for decades, with the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution being weighed against the rising gun violence in many cities and the recent prevalence of mass shootings. Along with these topics, accidental shootings – particularly involving children – are also an important factor for consideration when discussing creating or changing gun laws.

New research was presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference & Exhibition in Chicago, which found that the regions of the U.S. with the strictest gun laws also have the lowest rates of childhood firearm injuries.

The researchers ranked each region of the U.S. using the Brady Gun Law Score, which scores states based on policy approaches to regulating both guns and ammunition. This score takes into account background checks on gun sales, reporting stolen or lost firearms, and restricting the purchase of weapons among high-risk populations. The study compared these regional scores with national data from the Nationwide Emergency Department Sample from 2009-2013, which included analysis of over 100,000 emergency department visits for pediatric firearm-related injuries.

In comparing the regions’ Brady Gun Law Scores with the number of these injuries per region, the researchers found that regions with higher Brady scores (indicating stricter gun laws) also had lower rates of emergency department visits for firearm injuries among children and teens. This suggests that stricter gun laws may be related to fewer firearm injuries among youth.

Regionally, the lowest rate of firearm injuries occurred in the Northeast, which had the highest Brady score as well. The Midwest had the second lowest injury rate, the West had the third lowest, and the South was last with the highest rates of visits for pediatric firearm injuries – and also the lowest Brady score.

“Our study highlights the regional variations in gun laws,” says Dr. Monika Goyal, an assistant professor of pediatrics and emergency medicine at Children’s National Health System and The George Washington University. “It also suggests how gun laws may help to reduce the number of pediatric firearm victims being treated in the emergency department each year.”

While more research on other competing factors will need to be done, this study is a step in the right direction in terms of determining what may be putting children at risk of firearm injuries. It’s safe to say we can all get on board with decreasing the number of children ending up in hospitals with gun wounds.

By Connor Ertz, Staff Writer

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