1. Across states, more guns = more violent deaths to children

We analyzed the relationship between firearm availability and unintentional gun death, homicide and suicide for 5-14 year-olds across the 50 states over a ten-year period.  Children in states with many guns have elevated rates of unintentional gun deaths, suicide and homicide.  The state rates of non-firearm suicide and non-firearm homicide among children are not related to firearm availability.

Miller, Matthew; Azrael, Deb; Hemenway, David.  Firearm availability and unintentional firearm deaths, suicide, and homicide among 5-14 year olds.  Journal of Trauma.  2002; 52:267-75.


2. Child firearm suicide appears more impulsive than suicide by other means (Arizona)

We analyzed data from the Arizona Childhood Fatality Review Team comparing youth gun suicide with suicide by other means.  Children who use a firearm to commit suicide have fewer identifiable risk factors for suicide, such as expressing suicidal thoughts.  Gun suicides appear more impulsive and spontaneous than suicide by other means.

Azrael, Deborah; Hemenway, David; Miller, Matthew; Barber, Catherine; Schackner, Robert.  Youth suicide: Insights from 5 years of Arizona child review team data.  Suicide and Life Threatening Behavior.  2004; 34:36-43.


3. Guns are rarely used in infant homicides  

This article uses data from various locations to describe the circumstances of infant homicides.  Guns are almost never used to kill infants.  The perpetrator is virtually always caught, and often is the one calling the police.

Fujiwara, Takeo; Barber, Catherine; Schaechter, Judy; Hemenway, David.  Characteristics of infant homicides in the U.S.: Findings from a multi-site reporting system.  Pediatrics.  2009; 124:e210-17.


4. Parents incorrectly believe their children have not handled the family gun

At family practice clinics in rural Alabama, over 400 parents were separated from their children, and both were asked questions about guns in the home.  We found that over 1/3 of parents who reported that their son had not handled a household gun were contradicted by the child.

Baxley, Frances; Miller, Matthew.  Parental misperceptions about their children and firearms.  Annals of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine.  2006; 160:542-47.


5. Unsupervised firearm handling by adolescents often involves shooting the gun

We analyzed data from a telephone survey of over 5,800 California adolescents conducted in 2000-01.  We found that one-third of adolescents reported handling a firearm, 5% without adult supervision or knowledge.  Smoking, drinking and parents not knowing the child’s whereabouts in the afternoon were associated with unsupervised gun handling.  These events usually occur away from home, with friends.  Half involve shooting the gun.

Miller, Matthew; Hemenway, David.  Unsupervised firearm handling by California adolescents.  Injury Prevention.  2004; 10:163-68.


6. Parents would not feel uncomfortable if asked by other parents if they have a gun

We evaluated a year-long comprehensive, community-based campaign in a small Midwestern city that promoted the importance of parents asking adults in whose homes their children play or visit about household firearms and their safe storage.  Attitudes and behavioral intentions changed modestly, but not significantly, in the expected direction.  In addition, most parents believed that asking about firearms is a good idea and few would feel uncomfortable if another parent asked about firearms in their home.  However, they overestimated the likelihood that asking about firearms would be offensive to other parents.

Johnson, Rene M; Lintz, Jenny; Gross, Daniel, Miller, Matthew; Hemenway, David.  Evaluation of the ASK campaign in two Midwestern cities.  ISRN Public Health.  2011 Dec 1;2012.


7. There are many sensible low-cost policies that could reduce child violent deaths

The public health approach provides innovative ideas for protecting children from firearm injury.

Hemenway, David.  Protecting children from firearm violence.  Big Ideas for Children: Investing in our Nation’s Future.  2008; 203-210.


8. While children are typically shot by other children, 2-4 years-olds usually shoot themselves

Using data from the National Violent Death Reporting System for 16 states from 2005 to 2012, we estimate that there were 110 unintentional firearm deaths to children 0-14 annually in the U.S. during this 8 year time period, 80% higher than reported by the Vital Statistics.  The large majority of children are shot by an adult who is not a family member.

While children are typically shot by other children, victims aged 2-4 are usually shooting themselves.  While many boys aged 11-14 are shot unintentionally at a friend’s house, this is not the case for girls and children aged 10 years and under.

This article received the Jess Krauss award as the best article in Injury Epidemiology for the year 2015.

Hemenway D, Solnick SJ.  Children and unintentional firearm death.  Injury Epidemiology.  2015: 2:26-31.