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Strict Gun Laws Spare Young Lives: Study

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SATURDAY, May 5, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- Fewer young Americans are killed by guns in states with stricter gun laws, a new study finds.

"Injuries due to firearms are the nation's third-leading cause of pediatric death," said study author Dr. Monika Goyal. She is director of research in the division of emergency medicine and trauma services at Children's National Health System in Washington, D.C.

"Firearm legislation at the state level varies significantly," Goyal said in a health system news release. "Our findings underscore the need for further investigation of which types of state-level firearm legislation are most strongly correlated with reducing pediatric injuries and deaths."

In the study, more than 4,500 people aged 21 and younger died from firearm-related injuries in 2015. Eighty-seven percent were male, 44 percent were black and their mean age was 18.

State rates of gun-related deaths among young people ranged from as low as zero per 100,000 youths to as high as 18 per 100,000 youths. Median rates were lower among the 12 states that require universal background checks for gun purchases (3.8 per 100,000) than in states that did not require background checks (5.7 per 100,000), the researchers said.

The five states that require background checks before buying ammunition also had a lower median rate (2.3 per 100,000 youths) than states that did not require such background checks (5.6 per 100,000), according to the study.

The study was scheduled for presentation Saturday at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies, in Toronto. Research presented at meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

"Newtown. Orlando. Las Vegas. Parkland. Those are among the mass shootings that have occurred across the nation in recent years," Goyal said.

"While these tragedies often are covered heavily by the news media, they represent a subset of overall pediatric injuries and deaths due to firearms," she added. "Pediatric firearm-related injuries are a critical public health issue across the U.S."

More information

The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence has more on children and gun violence.

SOURCE: Children's National Health System, news release, May 5, 2018
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