Report claims gun deaths of kids rose massively

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They say there are lies, damn lies, and statistics. People can twist numbers in all sorts of ways to make a problem look better or worse than it actually is. This is why we create standards for using statistics, so we all understand what’s going on.


Now, let’s talk about “gun deaths,” meaning deaths that resulted from a gunshot.

I don’t like the term–especially since you don’t see “knife deaths” anywhere in the media–but it’s the term that much of the media use when they want to lump homicides, accidents, and suicides into one big pile.

That’s also how a recent report classified them, and this report claims there’s been an 87 percent increase in child gun deaths over the past decade.

As Republican lawmakers and the gun lobby have fought tooth and nail against proposals to reduce access to firearms in the U.S. and ensure they are kept out of the hands of children over the last decade, the number of child deaths from gun violence has almost doubled, rising 87% between 2011-21.

Two doctors in the Division of Emergency Medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital were joined by the teenage daughter of one of the physicians in analyzing nonfatal and fatal injuries over a decade and published the study Thursday in the journal Pediatrics, run by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

The researchers found that nonfatal injuries from all causes, such as car crashes and household accidents, dropped by more than half between 2011-21, plummeting from 11,592 to 5,359 per 100,000 children. The rate of fatal injuries went up from 14.07 to 17.3 per 100,000.

“Firearms and drug poisonings are both exceptions to this, in that both the nonfatal injuries and the fatal injuries increased,” Cordelia Mannix, a high school student in Concord, Massachusetts and the daughter of lead study author Dr. Rebekah Mannix, toldThe New York Times.

Just over 1,300 children under the age of 18 were killed by firearms in 2011, compared with 2,590 children in 2021.


Now, let’s note that the author brings up the rate of fatal injuries, which is described as a per capita rate and allows us to usefully compare year-to-year data.

But when talking about gun deaths, there’s absolutely no rate given at all just the raw total, and that’s a problem.

Any child dying is a terrible tragedy and I’m not going to make light of that. The only acceptable number of child deaths is zero, be it from illness, accident, or intent. We shouldn’t outlive our kids.

The issue arises when someone starts using raw numbers to overstate the problem.

For example, the number of kids killed shot up a massive amount…in total. Yet what’s not mentioned is that there were around 20 million more Americans in 2021 than in 2011, meaning that even if the rate of so-called gun deaths remained constant, you’d still have an increase in the raw total. That’s why we use per capita rates.

But the per capita rate isn’t nearly as terrifying, so that’s omitted.

Further, let’s look at the total homicide rate for a moment. In 2011, that rate was 4.67. Compare that to 6.81. That’s around a 46 percent increase right there. While that’s across all age demographics, it stands to reason that if the homicide rate is going to go up, it’ll impact all ages to some extent or another.


Plus, “gun deaths” aren’t just homicides. They’re also suicides, and the suicide rate also increased over that decade. In 2011, the total suicide rate per capita was 13.4, a rate that rose to 16.1 in 2021. That’s an increase of more than 20 percent.

And that’s assuming suicides were up for all age groups. I’m not sure we can do that. 2021 was after a year of pandemic with an unhealthy smattering of civil and social upheaval. That really hit young people the worst. For example, in a very narrow age group–age 10 to 12–the CDC reported a 70 percent increase in suicides between 2019 and 2021. The same report found an increase for young people as a whole, though their defintion was up to age 24.

Still, suicide is definitely part of the problem and an overall increase in the rate may well account for these “gun deaths” which are presented as such knowing most people will assume homicides.

Look, I’m not going to pretend that we shouldn’t try to address child deaths, but this entire article started by lamenting the GOP’s refusal to get with the anti-gun program. It’s predicated on the idea that gun control should be pushed and pushed hard, so that means we need to look at these numbers with a wary eye.

Is there some massive problem where gun deaths among children are skyrocketing for some unexplained reason or are the raw numbers of such deaths up because they’re up across the board? Is it a crime problem or a mental health problem?


No one is going to say we shouldn’t address the issue, but it’s really hard to have a reasonable discussion with unreasonable people, and folks to misrepresent the facts in an effort to try and trick people into thinking a problem is bigger than it is aren’t reasonable people.


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