Gun violence is now the leading killer of America’s children, surpassing accidents, disease and even drug overdose, a new report finds.
Researchers at the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor, write that over 4,300 children aged one to 19 years old died of a firearm related injury during the pandemic’s first year – a 30 percent jump from the previous year.
2020 was the first year that gun violence overtook vehicle crashes as a leading killer – both due to a surge in firearm deaths and a rapid fall in vehicle related deaths over the past two decades.
The report is yet another indicator of America’s growing gun violence issues, and the large scale uptick of crime that has struck the nation since the pandemic began in early 2020.
Gun violence is now the leading killer off American youth, a research report finds, surpassing motor vehicle crashes (file photo)
Researchers, who published their findings in the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday found that there was a record 45,222 firearm deaths in 2020.
Jason Goldstick (pictured), a researcher at the University of Michigan, said that there is no specific cause for the increase in gun violence, but it did correspond with a jump in firearm purchases
Overall there was a 13.5 percent jump in firearm deaths, including a 33 percent jump in gun-related homicides year-to-year.
Suicides carried out by using firearms also increased one percent, remaining around even year-to-year.
The research team writes that after seeing these stats for the overall population, they decided to gather how much of the burden of firearm violence was falling on the nation’s youth.
They found that just around six out of every 100,000 U.S. children died a fire alarm related death in 2020, surpassing a the five of every 100,000 children that died from the motor vehicle accident.
Jason Goldstick, a research associate professor at Michigan, told DailyMail.com that there is not strong evidence to point to any particular cause for the recent uptick in violence.
He does note that other studies have made similar findings about gun violence in America, though, and growing crime rates in much of the country seem to be pointing to the same.
Kade Lewin, 12, was fatally shot in the head and chest while inside a car with his 20-year-old cousin Jena Ellis, who was also shot but survived, and another eight-year-old relative who was not injured
A study from researchers at the University of California, Davis, finds that there was an increase in firearm purchases early in the pandemic, though there was not a direct correlation between purchases and increases in violence on a state-by-state level.
Goldstick can not be sure where the death figures will go from here either, as they could regress back to normal levels – though there is also a chance that this heavily increased rate of gun violence is the new normal in America.
Deaths from drug overdoses surged as well, nearly doubling from 2019 to 2020, hitting over two deaths per 100,000 children and surpassing suffocation, cancer and birth defects as causes of deaths.
Fentanyl has largely been blamed for the surge in drug deaths, with a University of California, Los Angeles, study published earlier this month finding adolescent deaths from the synthetic opioid had tripled from 253 in 2019 to 884 in 2021.
The growing prevalence of gun violence in America has impacted communities around the country, and has especially become a major issue in cities like Chicago and New York City.
The Big Apple suffered 107 shootings in March, with 27 people having been shot in the last week of the month. That comes on top of a nearly 60 percent spike in crime in February compared to the same time last year.
One example included Kade Lewin, a 12 year old from Brooklyn, who was shot and killed while he was in a car with two of his family members – who was also shot but survived.
Investigators believe the family was not targeted. A source told the New York Daily News that the gunman was aiming for someone who drives a similar make and model car.
‘Just think about this for a moment. What the family said while we spoke just really resonated with me – Whose child is next? Whose child is next? This could have been your [children’s] sneakers – My son’s. Whose child is next? This story just strikes at the heart of the trauma in our city and out country,’ New York City Mayor Eric Adams told reporters outside the grieving mom’s home in Brooklyn during press conference at the start of the month.
Suicides are also a a significant cause of gun violence in America, with Goldstick noting that they are much more often fatal that other suicide methods, or assaults using firearms.