What is the problem?
Firearms are the leading cause of death for children and teens (ages 1 to 19) in the United States. Every year, 18,000 children and teens are shot and killed or wounded and approximately 3 million are exposed to gun violence.
Children and teens in the U.S. are impacted by gun violence in all its forms. Exposure to gun violence has an impact on the psychological and mental well-being of children and teens and affects their school performance, among other factors. When homes, neighborhoods, and schools are not safe from gun violence, entire generations of American children are affected.
Child & Teen Gun Deaths Per Year
58% of child and teen gun deaths are homicides.
Last updated: 12.28.2021
Why is it an issue?
Firearms are the leading cause of death for children and teens (ages 1 to 19) in the U.S.
Children and teens in the U.S. experience staggeringly high rates of gun deaths and injuries. They are also harmed when a friend or family member is killed with a gun, when someone they know is shot, and when they witness and hear gunshots. Tragically, children and teens are at heightened risk by guns in the home. The vast majority of child and teen gun homicide deaths and unintentional shooting deaths and injuries occur in the home. More than 80 percent of child suicides involve a gun that belongs to a family member.
By the numbers
5.4 million children live in a home with at least one unlocked and loaded firearm.
Over the past decade, the firearm suicide rate among children and teens has increased by 59 percent.
Black children and teens are 14 times more likely than white children and teens of the same age to die by gun homicide.
Approximately three million American children witness gun violence every year.
What are the solutions?
Secure Gun Storage
Gun owners can make their homes and communities safer by storing their guns securely. This means storing them locked, unloaded, and separate from ammunition. Securing firearms protects children and adults by preventing unintentional shootings and gun suicides.
Extreme Risk Laws
When a person is in crisis and considering harming themselves or others, family members and law enforcement are often the first people to see the warning signs. Extreme Risk laws, sometimes referred to as “Red Flag” laws, allow loved ones or law enforcement to intervene by petitioning a court for an order to temporarily prevent someone in crisis from accessing guns.
Smart Guns and Gun Safety Features
A personalized—or “smart”—gun is a firearm that employs authorized-use technology, like the thumb scan or passcode available on many smartphones, to turn stolen guns and guns accessed by children into harmless pieces of steel. If widely implemented, it would be a game-changer for keeping guns out of the hands of children and criminals.
Reconsider Active Shooter Drills
95% of American public schools drill students on lockdown procedures. Yet, there is almost no research affirming the value of these drills for preventing school shootings or protecting the school community when shootings do occur.
Stop Arming Teachers
To prevent tragedies we must implement strong school safety solutions, but arming teachers is not one of them. School shootings are chaotic and in these moments of chaos, we cannot ask teachers to stop a shooter, potentially a former student.
Threat Identification and Assessment Programs in Schools
The most important thing that schools can do to prevent active shooter incidents—and gun violence overall—is to intervene before a person commits an act of violence. Threat assessment and identification programs allow schools to intervene to address potential violent behavior.
Background Checks on All Gun Sales
Background checks are the foundation of any comprehensive gun violence prevention strategy. Current federal law requires that background checks be conducted whenever a person attempts to buy a gun from a licensed gun dealer. This is to ensure that the buyer is not legally prohibited from having the gun.