New study on gun deaths in kids features same old issues

(AP Photo/Wilson Ring, File)

The headline at the Washington Post said it all: “Guns killed a record number of U.S. children in 2021, study finds.”

We’ve seen things like this before, but every study on so-called gun deaths alleging such things has major problems. One would hope that sooner or later, they’d fix the problem, and then look at the facts again.


After all, we’re supposed to use these studies to determine whether or not we should create policy as a result of these findings. The least the supposed experts could do is try and get it right.

Yet, no one should get excited about this one, though gun control advocates no doubt will. Why? Because this study isn’t any different.

Guns killed a record number of children in the United States in 2021, exceeding the peak registered in the first year of the pandemic, according to a new analysis of CDC data.

The report said 4,752 children died from a firearm injury in 2021 — an increase of almost 42 percent from 2018. The study, published in the journal American Academy of Pediatrics, found nearly half of those who died in 2021 were Black and about 85 percent were males.

The analysis, which looked at children and adolescents from newborn to age 19, found nearly two-thirds of the deaths among children in 2021 were homicides, almost 30 percent were suicides and 3.5 percent resulted from “unintentional injury.”

That’s right, sports fans, we’re right back to treating 18- and 19-year-olds as children.


These are lawful adults who are no longer under their parents’ control who are old enough to buy firearms themselves if they so desire but who are also a big part of the ranks of violent criminals in general.

The study continued:

The research also found that, among that group, a majority of firearm homicides were Black children killed by gun-related injuries, while White children accounted for a majority of firearms suicides. Adolescents between 15 and 19 years old accounted for most of the gun-related deaths.

Now, let’s take a look at that age demographic.

We already know the problem with including 18- and 19-year-olds in gun deaths in children statistics, namely that they’re not children, but there’s some interesting stuff in this paragraph that could, in theory, be useful.

In particular, look at the ages for most gun deaths for a second.

The National Gang Center notes that the average age for joining a gang is 15. Coincidence? Probably not.

See, we know what we’re going to hear from the gun control side of the debate. It’s not any different than what we’ve been hearing from them, that gun deaths among kids are hitting record levels and we need to act.


Yet we’ve seen before what this inclusion of legal adults does to the numbers. Those under the age of 18 are still more likely to die in a car accident, for example, so the inclusion of those over 18 but under 20 are included because they are more likely to be shot to death.

What’s more, the overall claim about children and gun deaths will be repeated, often with the context of who the study considers children omitted.

Now, I’m not saying the actual rate of gun deaths among kids isn’t too high. The only acceptable number should be zero, after all, but throwing murdered adults into the mix doesn’t make it easier to address the problem.

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