The Trauma Professional's Blog
State Laws And Pediatric Firearms Injuries

The US federal government records some basic statistics regarding firearm injuries, mostly related to deaths. However, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality maintains a database that contains detailed information on pediatric hospitalizations, including injury information. A group at Tufts University used this database to compare injury trends in pediatric firearm injury (age 0-20) in states with and without a Stand Your Ground law (SYG). Stand Your Ground laws, which many first became aware of after the death of Trayvon Martin in Florida, allow an individual to defend themelves from an unlawful threat without having to retreat first.

The database used was fairly robust. Data were submitted from 44 states, and 4 years were reviewed for the study. Over 19,000 pediatric firearm injury records were analyzed. The following interesting reslts were uncovered:

  • Nearly two thirds were assualts, and 27% were accidental injury.
  • Average length of stay for both mechanisms was about 3 days
  • Hospital cost for assault was $61,000 and for accidental injury was $46,000, per child
  • Children were about 10% more likely to suffer a firearm assault in SYG states
  • Kids in SYG states were also more likely to suffer accidental firearm injury and commit suicide with a firearm(?!)
  • Statistical association of firearm injury with the usual culprits (race, age > 16, male sex, socioeconomic status) was also noted

Bottom line: At best, this is a weak observational study. And of course, it is impossible to say that Stand Your Ground laws are the cause of a greater number of pediatric firearm injuries. The fact that (even greater) increases in accidental injury and suicide were noted points out this weakness even better. Although it is tempting to blame SYG laws on this perceived increase in injuries, it’s not correct. Much better analyses need to occur before we can really draw any actionable conclusions on the effects of these laws..

States with Stand Your Ground laws: AL, AK, AZ, CA, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, ME, MI, MS, MO, MT, NH, NC, ND, OH, OK„ PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, X, UT, WV, WI, WY


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