Every day, children are injured or killed by guns in this country. As a public health epidemic, gun violence is preventable using clinical and public health approaches that combine sensible policy, improved surveillance, research to identify best practices, and evidence-informed cross-sectoral primary prevention and intervention efforts.
Gun Safety and Injury Prevention Overview
For over 30 years, the American Academy of Pediatrics has developed and published position statements with recommended public policy and clinical approaches to reduce the incidence of firearm injuries in children and adolescents and to reduce the effects of gun violence. These serve as the foundation for AAP advocacy efforts at the federal level, and as guideposts for AAP chapters across the United States in their local and state policy and programmatic initiatives. In addition, the AAP has developed clinician and parent education resources and implementation programs to not only support violence prevention but also to promote resilience in children and adolescents.
The AAP provides recommendations and guidance to support pediatricians and other health care professionals working with families to prevent firearm-related injuries and deaths.
Firearm-Related Injuries and Deaths in Children and Youth Policy Statement
Firearm-Related Injuries and Deaths in Children and Youth Technical Report
Role of the Pediatrician in Youth Violence Prevention
Suicide and Suicide Attempts in Adolescents
Facts and Statistics
- In 2020, firearm-related injuries became the leading cause of death for US children and teens aged 1-19.
- About one third of American children live in homes with firearms, and of these households, 43% contain at least 1 unlocked firearm. Thirteen percent (13%) of households with guns contain at least 1 firearm that is unlocked and loaded or stored with ammunition.
- Suicide attempts involving a firearm are more often fatal (91%) compared with those involving drug overdoses (23%). Over 80% of child firearm suicides involved a gun belonging to a family member.
- Like counseling on seat belt use or pool safety, counseling parents on firearm ownership and safe storage practices is important and helps mitigate the risk of death and injury to children.
- In controlled studies, individuals who received physician counseling were more likely to report the adoption of 1 or more safe gun-storage practices.
By the time they complete residency training, most pediatricians have direct experience treating gun injuries.
- 69% of 2018 graduates reported treating a gun injury in training.
- 41% treated five or more children with gun injuries and 18% treated 10 or more injuries.
- 90% agree that pediatricians should ask about the presence of guns in the home.
- 96% agree pediatricians should ask parents to unload/lock guns.
According to the 2019 AAP Periodic Survey:
- 14% of AAP members in direct patient care reported they had treated or consulted on a gun injury in the past year.
- 92% of AAP members identified violence prevention as a priority for pediatricians.
- 95% of AAP members said that pediatricians should ask parents with firearms to unload and lock them away.
- 78% of AAP members said they believe that anticipatory guidance about gun injury prevention can help to reduce gun injury.
WISQAR Data Trends
The AAP research team has complided powerpoint slides to reflect the most current youth suicide and firearm fatality data.
Suicide Trend Firearm Fatality Trend
Professional Tools & Resources
Safer: Storing Firearms Prevents Harm Video Series
Safer: Storing Firearms Prevents Harm Course
CALM for Pediatric Providers: Counseling on Access to Lethal Means to Prevent Youth Suicide Course
Promoting Firearm Injury Prevention & Patient Safety in the Emergency Department
AAP Gun Safety Campaign & Toolkit
Families and Communities
Guns in the Home
Is There an Unlocked Gun Where Your Child Plays?
Gun Violence Prevention Advocacy Efforts
Podcasts and Voices Blogs
Learn what others are saying. Listen to our podcasts and read our blog posts.
Reducing Harm from Firearms, Improving Training in Developmental Disabilities – Episode 139
In this episode Lois K. Lee, MD, MPH, FAAP, FACEP, lead author of the updated policy statement and technical report on firearm-related injuries and deaths in children and youth, offers guidance for pediatricians to help decrease access to firearms. Hosts David Hill, MD, FAAP, and Joanna Parga-Belinkie, MD, FAAP, also talk with Jen Smith, PsyD, BCBA-D, about her Pediatrics article on multidisciplinary training in the field of developmental disabilities.
Pediatrics on Call|
December 13, 2022
Firearm Injuries during the Pandemic, Safe Storage Messaging - Episode 66
In this episode Joanna Cohen, MD, FAAP, shares research from the journal Pediatrics about increased firearm injuries involving the pediatric population during the pandemic. Hosts David Hill, MD, FAAP, and Joanna Parga-Belinkie, MD, FAAP, also talk to Shari Barkin, MD, MSHS, FAAP, about a new AAP training portal designed to help pediatricians counsel families about firearm safety.
Pediatrics on Call|
June 15, 2021
Rethinking Active Shooter Drills in Schools - Episode 91
In this episode David J. Schonfeld, MD, FAAP, founder and director of the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement, joins hosts David Hill, MD, FAAP, and Joanna Parga-Belinkie, MD, FAAP, for a discussion about the potential harm of high-intensity “live crisis” drills in schools.
Pediatrics on Call|
November 16, 2021
Common Sense Ways Pediatricians Can help Reduce Firearm Injuries
Learn more about the efforts the AAP is making to keep guns out of the hands of young people and how pediatricians can support a gun sense movement in their communities.
June 12, 2019
Keep Guns Out of the Hands of Children
Research shows that a handgun in a home is more likely to injure or kill a family member than to thwart an intruder. Read how this pediatrician recommends to her families to just not have a gun in the house.
June 20, 2016
Why Should Pediatricians Ask about Guns in the Home
Pediatricians are at the front line to advocate for firearm injury prevention. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that pediatricians routinely discuss firearm safety with patients and families.
June 12, 2017
American Academy of Pediatrics