Policy Pathways to Address American Youth Firearm Injury and DeathApr 6, 2021
This brief reviews the devastating impact of gun violence on American youth and points to the evidence to substantiate the need for federal policy action. A child or adolescent is killed with a firearm every 2 hours and 48 minutes. Firearm violence and death are uniquely American problems with 91% of firearm deaths in high-income countries worldwide occurring here. Additionally, inequities in firearm injury and death exist. Firearm-related death is the leading cause of mortality among Black youth. The rate of firearm-related suicide is twice as high among rural youth and the rate of firearm-related homicide is twice as high among urban youth.
Federal and state laws are necessary component for a prevention strategy to curb firearm-related injuries and death. The lack of federal firearm regulation has resulted in state action. Research illustrates the protective effects of gun safety laws on youth outcomes. State-based evidence can inform federal policies and priorities.
Policy actions to protect children and youth include:
- child access prevention and safe storage
- universal background checks
- permit to purchase
- extended waiting periods
- extreme risk protection orders
- assault weapon and high-capacity ammunition magazine bans
We must strengthen federal laws, protect current evidence-based state laws from dismantling efforts, overcome the inequities suffered by disproportionately affected populations, and invest in public health firearms research.