Reporting on pediatric unintentional firearm injury-Who's responsible

J. Faulkenberry, Judy Schaechter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Gun injury is a leading cause of death among US children and adolescents. Unintentional firearm death disproportionately affects youth. Reports have shown that at least a third of US homes with children have firearms. When children are fatally injured by guns, the location is most often a home, the shooter is family, the gun owner is a relative, and the gun most often originates from the home, where it was left unlocked. METHODS: We conductedan Internet searchof pediatric(0Y18 years old) fatal and nonfatal firearminjuries from January 1 toAugust 31, 2014, in theUnited States, querying the termsshot, gun, accident, andyear-old formedia reports. Caseswere screened for intent and coded for demographics, location, gun specifics, circumstances, relationship between the victim, shooter, gun owner, and any resultant charges. RESULTS: A total of 277 unintentional pediatric gun injury events were reviewed, two-Thirds were nonfatal. Half of the victims were younger than 13 years; 25.3%were younger than 7 years, 80% of the victims and 85.6% of the shooterswere male. Of shooters, 84.3% were the child victim themselves, a familymember, or a friend/acquaintance. Seventy-seven percent of the events took place in a residence. When gun ownershipwas reported, 68%were owned by a family member.When chargeswere reported, a thirdwere againstminors. CONCLUSION: This study reinforced previous studies that unintentional child firearm injuries predominantly involve the home, family guns, young children, and males, and most could be prevented through adult responsibility for minimizing child access and securing storage of firearms. We further learned that media accounts frequently did not report on gun ownership or charges, details which might increase community awareness or inform policies useful to prevention. Shooters, not owners, were more often charged in unintentional child injuries, and minors were charged even when Child Access Prevention laws could be applied.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S2-S8
JournalJournal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


  • Fatal
  • Nonfatal gun injury
  • Pediatric gun death
  • Unintentional firearm injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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