Editor’s note: Due to a formatting error, a previous version of this blog post contained incorrect statistics. They are now corrected.
This week, research will be presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting examining firearm injuries among youth in 2012. There is no doubt that the headlines will overwhelmingly focus on the unfortunate number of firearm injuries among youth that year. Of course, gun control advocates will use the headlines in their next round of calls to restrict the industry and undercut the Second Amendment. What will not be covered in mainstream media or gun control propaganda are the key data points that illustrate what the problem actually is. Spoiler alert: the problem is not firearms.
It is misleading to lump together injuries among all individuals below the age of 20 and to count increasingly rare childhood accidents in the same bucket as teenage assaults and suicide attempts. From the available abstract, it appears that the researchers here understand that and make some attempt to analyze the underlying factors.
As the press release states, this study shines light on the “demographic and socioeconomic patterns tied to the injuries.” The abstract notes that, “This data confirms prior studies finding socioeconomic and racial/ethnic disparities in pediatric firearm-related hospitalizations, the majority being those with Medicaid, from the lowest median household incomes and being Black or Hispanic. The majority of firearm-injuries are reported as unintentional in children <15 years old, while for 15-19 year olds, the majority are reported as due to assault.”
Out of the 5,862 pediatric firearm-related hospitalizations in 2012,
- 87.6% were males,
- 83.6% 15-19 years old,
- 53.7% Black,
- 53.0% had Medicaid, and
- 52.7% lived in a zip code with a 1st quartile median household income.
What is painfully clear from these data points is that black male youth living in poorer neighborhoods are more likely to be the victims of assault. That is a problem in need of solutions.
As we have discussed here in the past, it is largely a criminal justice problem, not a public health issue. Doctors can’t prescribe a solution to this vexing social problem. Nor will gun control measures. Banning guns will do nothing to help this significant social problem.
We know from federal government studies that most – roughly 80 percent – of criminals obtain their firearms illegally from theft, the black market, or from friends and family members. When gun control advocates lobby for increased restrictions on law-abiding citizens, criminals are unlikely to see any change in their access to firearms. To solve the problems of distressed communities calls for multi-faceted policy approaches that are beyond the scope of the firearms industry. It is not as simple as making it harder for citizens to legally exercise their Second Amendment rights.