Study Reveals Differences In Firearm-Related Hospitalizations For Children In Rural Versus Urban Areas

The findings from a study published by researchers at the Yale School of Medicine are providing new insights into the causes of firearm-related injuries in adolescents under the age of 20. After analyzing data from 2006, 2009, and 2012, researchers found there were 21,581 total hospitalizations for firearm injuries and that “the overall hospitalization rate was higher in urban versus rural areas.”


When researchers took a closer look at the numbers, the causes of those injuries differed between age groups. Children 5-to-9-years-old and 10-to-14-years-old who lived in rural areas had a higher rate of unintentional firearm-injuries than children of the same age living in urban areas. Adolescents 15-to-19-years-old in urban areas had the highest number of firearm-related injuries due to assaults.

Unsurprisingly, the study found that the majority of victims of firearm-related injuries in urban and rural areas are men. And those ages 15-to-19-years-old sustain the most injuries in both urban and rural areas.

The data also breaks down the percentage of firearm-injuries by race and ethnicity, finding that African Americans made up more than 56 percent of firearm-related injuries in urban areas while White Americans made up 71 percent of firearm-related injuries in rural areas.

The study also found that “hospitalization rates for self-inflicted injuries were highest in rural areas among 15- to 19-year-olds” and that “rates of hospitalization for self-inflicted injuries in both urban areas and micropolitan areas were lower in comparison with rural areas.”


Out of all the firearm injuries, “six percent of all children hospitalized died during their hospitalization,” and researchers found “there were no differences between urban and rural location.”

In the discussion section of the published report, researchers explained what all this means (emphasis mine):

As with many other public health issues, separating and understanding the different components of this complex problem are essential to designing and monitoring public health efforts to reduce firearm-related injuries. With our findings, we build on previous research and further suggest that the cause and underlying factors leading to firearm injuries in rural communities are likely different from those in urban communities. Thus, to effectively approach these related but different problems, different prevention strategies will likely be required. These might include a combination of individual and community-focused awareness and education campaigns, safety and injury prevention anticipatory guidance and counseling, increased mental health access and screening, and violence prevention programs.

Another key finding: “unintentional firearm injuries are the most common cause of firearm injury hospitalizations except among urban 15- to 19-year-olds.” With this information, and along with the general recommendations from the researchers, gun control legislation was not a proposed solution to the problem, as the issue of unintentional firearm-injuries comes down to gun safety and the proper storage of firearms.


It’s important to note, as Reuters did, that the purpose of the study was not to prove whether a child living in an urban or rural area is more likely to suffer from a firearm-related injury.

Below is an explanation of the data from researcher James Dodington, MD.

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