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.
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.
Professional Tools & Resources
Families and Communities
Podcasts and Voices Blogs
Learn what others are saying. Listen to our podcasts and read our blog posts.
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
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
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
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
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