U.S. youth shootings ‘routine and preventable’

A women fires a handgun at the "Get Some Guns & Ammo" shooting range on January 15, 2013 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Credit: Getty Images
Many shootings of children are preventable with existing technologies, according to new research.
Credit: Getty Images

Child-shooting incidents in the U.S. are common and avoidable, say researchers who compiled data in the state of Colorado, one of the first studies of its kind.

The authors studied data from two emergency rooms in Denver and Aurora between 2000-2008, and found 129 cases of gun injuries to children aged 4 to 17. The figure does not include victims found dead at the scene, or from the Columbine High School or Aurora movie theater massacres.

“It’s a big number and the trends show shootings are routine and are not decreasing,” study author Dr. Angela Sauaia, of the Colorado School of Public Health, told Metro. “But we can do something about it – 14 percent of injuries were self-inflicted from kids managing to access unlocked, loaded guns.”

The solution is within reach, gun control campaigners argue. “There have been tremendous advances in personalized security, through keycodes and biometrics – you can lock an iPad with a retinal scan,” said Josh Horwitz, executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. “It’s unfortunate that gun manufacturers are not using the technology available, and hopefully new research like this will shame them into action.”

Second Amendment supporters are skeptical. “Sometimes the safest thing is to keep a loaded gun in easy access,” David Kopel of the Colorado think tank Independence Institute told Metro. “One-size-fits-all rules are contrary to public safety.”

Many pro-gun activists believe there should be better protection in schools. Meanwhile, a Colombia-based clothing company Miguel Caballero is manufacturing a line of bulletproof outfits for U.S. schoolchildren. “We only launched in March in Denver, and now we supply to Illinois and Florida,” said company CEO Miguel Caballero. “There is controversy, but we provide an alternative solution.”

Sauaia’s research received no federal funding, as such studies are deemed politicized, but she hopes this will lead to further investigation. “I think if people realized how often this happens, there might be a different environment for debate.”



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