There are an alarming number of school shootings in the United States, but guns harm thousands of children off of campuses as well, according to a new study published by the medical journal JAMA Pediatrics. The study, conducted by researchers from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, found that over 8,000 children visit emergency rooms for gun-related injuries every year in the United States, averaging to nearly two-dozen incidents a day.
“While mass shootings garner significant media and social attention, unfortunately they’re not a good reflection of the actual burden of firearm-related injuries," Dr. Faiz Gani, the study's lead author and a researcher at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, told NBC News. "In our study, we found that for every 100,000 teenagers and children arriving to the emergency department, 11 come for a gun-related injury."
The study pulled its data from a national database created by the Agency on Healthcare Research and Quality, a subsidiary of the Department of Health and Human Services. The study honed in on nine years — beginning in 2006 and ending in 2014.
Nearly 50 percent of the gun injuries were related to assaults, and 40 percent were from accidental shootings, according to the Associated Press. About 2 percent of the injuries were reportedly related to suicides. Six percent of children who visited the emergency room for gun-related injuries ultimately died.
Caring for such a large number of emergency rooms also comes with a hefty price tag, according to researchers. The average emergency room visit cost $2,445, according to NBC News, and $44,000 if an injured child was ultimately admitted to the hospital. In total, 75,000 children visited the emergency room for gun-related injuries over the course of the nine years included in the study, costing a total of $3 billion.
“It’s extraordinarily sad because these children grow up in fear and it affects their ability to feel safe and comfortable at home or in school. It has an enormous ripple effect on child development,” Dr. Robert Sege, a Tufts University medicine professor not involved in the research, told the Associated Press. Sege co-authored an American Academy of Pediatrics gun injuries policy.
Everytown for Gun Safety also keeps close tabs on shootings in the United States, including those wherein a child accidentally fires at another person. According to the #NotAnAccident Index on Everytown's website, there have been at least 163 unintentional shootings by children in 2018, as of Monday evening. There have been at least 992 accidental shootings by children since 2015, according to the group's data.
Of those shootings, according to Everytown, 604 were injured and 388 reportedly died. Though these figures do not specifically indicate whether or not the person shot was also a child, they do suggest the frequency with which children accidentally fire weapons at other people. And indeed, many of the descriptions for each shooting indicate that the victim was, in fact, another minor.
These studies underscore the fact that gun safety is not just an adult issue. This is especially the case when the data indicates that children and teenagers are suffering gun-related injuries by the thousands each year.