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Gun Laws and Child Mortality – Do Laws Help?

August 12, 2019

Written by Clay Smith

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This study has several limitations, but there is apparent benefit to gun legislation in reducing mortality in young people.

Why does this matter?
Firearm-related injuries are the second leading cause of death in children. Does gun legislation impact pediatric firearm-related mortality?

Fewer young people killed
This was a cross sectional study of people <21 years old in WISQARS (an online fatal injury stats database from the CDC) over a 5-year period. They looked at the impact of overall Gun Law Scorecard as the primary outcome and the presence of three laws: universal background check (UBC) for firearm purchase, ammunition purchase, and an identification requirement for firearms (microstamping, ballistic fingerprinting) as the secondary outcome. They statistically adjusted for known confounders associated with firearm mortality. Most deaths were due to assault, were in males, and were in the 18 to 21-year-old age range (69%). So, most were not actually children. Regardless, for every 10-point increase in Gun Law Score (stricter laws), mortality dropped 4%; aIRR 0.96 (95%CI, 0.93–0.99). For one of the secondary outcomes, when comparing the 7 states with UBCs for ≥5 years to states <5 years or not at all, there was a marked decrease in mortality, aIRR 0.65 (95%CI, 0.46–0.90). Predicted mortality in states with UBC for firearms purchase was 3.80 per 100,000 children vs. 5.88 per 100,000 without UBC. Requiring UBC seems like a no-brainer. If I have to do a background check to buy a rifle at Walmart, why would this not also be required if I go to a gun show? Yet, it’s not in Tennessee, which just doesn’t make sense.

State Gun Laws and Pediatric Firearm-Related Mortality. Pediatrics. 2019 Jul 15. pii: e20183283. doi: 10.1542/peds.2018-3283. [Epub ahead of print]

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