David Hogg, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, speaks at a rally to ask for more gun control three days after the shooting at his school, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on February 17, 2018. ( Jonathan Drake / Reuters)
At least 26,000 children and adolescents under the age of 18 were killed by gunfire in the United States between 1999 and 2016, according to mortality data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Among the wealthy nations of the world, the United States accounts for 91 percent of all firearm deaths of children under the age of 15, according to a 2010 study published in the American Journal of Medicine.
This weekend, survivors of the shooting at Parkland, Fla., In which 14 students and three educators were killed by a former student arm with a military-style rifle, will conduct marches across the country to demand action to protect American children from violence with firearms.
"Our schools are not safe, our children and teachers are dying, we must make it a top priority to save these lives," write the March for Our Lives organizers in their mission statement. "The mission and focus of March For Our Lives is to demand that a comprehensive and effective bill to address these problems be presented immediately to Congress."
Since it reached the minimum of 1,258 deaths in 2013, the number of children killed by firearms in the United States has increased by 30 percent, to 1,637 deaths in 2016: more than four deaths per day.
Adolescents are the most affected by this armed violence: adolescents from 13 to 17 account for almost 85 percent of gun deaths reported by CDC. "Firearm killings among older children were more likely to be precipitated by another crime, be related to gangs and have drug involvement," said Pediatrics last year.
Armed violence also shortens the lives of many younger children. From 1999 to 2016, 184 babies under 1 died from a gunshot wound, as did 223 1-year-olds and 294 2-year-olds. In total, 1,678 children under the age of 5 died from gunshot wounds between 1999 and 2016, according to the CDC data.
The majority (15,407, or 59 percent) of the 26,000 child deaths since 1999 are homicides. There were 8,102 suicides with children's weapons during this period, 1,899 deaths due to involuntary gunfire and 450 deaths from shots of indeterminate intent. Since 1999, law enforcement officers killed 142 children and adolescents in the course of legal interventions. All but five of those deaths involved adolescents 13 years of age or older, according to the CDC data.
The availability of firearms is closely related to child deaths with firearms. At the state level, for example, there is a clear correlation between the rates of possession of weapons, as noted in a study 2015 in the journal Injury Prevention, and the rates of child deaths by firearms, according to the calculations of the CDC: more weapons, more deaths by children's weapons.
State laws also play a role. States with strict background checks and safe storage mandates tend to have lower rates of child deaths by firearm than states without those policies (as Axios has pointed out, there is a similar correlation between verification policies background and weapons deaths for residents of all ages)
A recent mbadive study by Rand Corp. discovered that universal background checks and child-access prevention laws were among the most important policy interventions effective measures to reduce the number of victims of armed violence in society.
This week, while the Parkland students were getting ready for their march, a disgruntled ex-boyfriend entered a Maryland high school and shot the 16-year-old girl, Jaelynn Willey, in the head. She was withdrawn from life support and died on Thursday night.