Guns became leading killer of US children, teens in 2020, analysis shows

Armed individuals providing protection for protesters during a march for Patrick Lyoya, a Black man who was fatally shot by a police officer, in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S., April 16, 2022. (Photo: CFP)

Gun related injuries became the leading cause of death among the U.S. children and adolescents in 2020, according to mortality analysis by researchers from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

That is the first time guns, surpassing car crashes, have become the leading cause of death for those aged 19 and under, based on recent mortality data by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, according to the study.

"From 2019 to 2020, the relative increase in the rate of firearm related deaths of all types (suicide, homicide, unintentional, and undetermined) among children and adolescents was 29.5 percent, more than twice as high as the relative increase in the general population," said the paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

"Although the new data is consistent with other evidence that firearm violence has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, the reasons for the increase are unclear, and it cannot be assumed that firearm-related mortality will later revert to pre-pandemic levels," it said.

"Regardless, the increasing firearm-related mortality reflects a longer-term trend and shows that we continue to fail to protect our youth from a preventable cause of death," the paper added.

Last Friday, a gunman opened fire on random victims from an apartment building near a college preparatory school in Northwest Washington, wounding four people, before taking his own life.