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Researchers analyzed more than 75,000 gunshot wounds in children under the age of 18 who, according to one of the authors, were the first nationwide representative study of their kind to have been admitted to an emergency room.
USA TODAY

Children living in states where firearms are more limited are less likely to die from them, according to a new study.

States with the most stringent gun laws had about 40% fewer deaths from firearms in children than states with the most casual laws, according to the study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

"This means we can potentially halve the death toll among children in our country through tighter gun laws," lead author Monika Goyal told US TODAY.

Her team also found that countries that had to perform universal background checks prior to the purchase of weapons had a 35% lower child-related child mortality rate.

Goyal, an epidemiologist and research director of the Emergency Department at the Children's National Pediatric Hospital in Washington, DC, said she felt compelled to find ways to prevent gun violence, which many believe is leading to a public health crisis has become.

"As a pediatric emergency doctor, I personally looked after too many children who were unfortunate victims of gun violence," she said.

Children living in states where firearms are more limited are less likely to die of them, a new study states. (Photo: GETTY)

"Epidemic" of Weapon Deaths: Firearms deaths of US schoolchildren at the "epidemic" level, it says in a study

are increasing child-related deaths among children become a central issue in the US. A study published last autumn found that firearms injuries were the second most common cause of death among children in the US in 2016.

Rebecca Cunningham, lead author of the 2018 study and a professor of emergency medicine at the University of Michigan, said guns are particularly dangerous in children due to their lack of maturity.

"Children and adolescents do not have brain maturity to successfully resist impulsive behavior," Cunningham said. "In other situations, this lack of mature impulse control is not fatal, and when you're a toddler or a depressed or angry teenager, you're looking for a weapon, and that impulsivity is often deadly because the firearms are deadly."

The Pediatrics According to a study, between 2011 and 2015, 21,241 people under the age of 21 died of firearms-related injuries. This means that more than 10 children die from gun violence every day, according to Goyal.

Lars Dalseide, spokesman for the National Rifle Association, said the NRA has made great efforts to promote the safe and responsible use of firearms. One example is the Eddie Eagle GunSafe program, a program to prevent gun accidents, which teaches children about the safety of weapons.

Dalseide expressed skepticism about the methods of the study. "Any social scientist worth his salt must question a study that selects a microscopic 5-year window for data when more than 50 years of data is available," he said.

Check your state: states with the highest (and lowest) force of arms. See where your state is building up.

There is still much to do to understand how legislation can effectively reduce child deaths caused by guns, Goyal said, but it's a similar process to the investigation of car safety and relationship laws.

"Just as we have invested in rigorous scientific research to inform policy relating to the safety of motor vehicle occupants – which in turn has dramatically reduced the number of child deaths from motor vehicle collisions – we need to use the same evidence-based strategies if we want to stem the firearms epidemic in our country, "Goyal said.

Cunningham is the co-leader of the FACTS, a group of researchers across the country fighting against gun violence. She said it was crucial to advance research into gun violence in order to gain a full understanding of the problem.

"We do not have to accept that the number of deaths among our children and adolescents continues to increase because of firearms injuries," Cunningham said. "This is a responsive public health problem that can be solved by science for preventing injuries while respecting the rights of our citizens."

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