A new analysis of hospital records by two Boston doctors who presented their research to the American Academy of Pediatrics shows an astounding rise in the number of kids injured or killed by gunshot wounds. More from NBC News:
About 500 American children and teenagers die in hospitals every year after sustaining gunshot wounds — a rate that climbed by nearly 60 percent in a decade, according to the first-ever accounting of such fatalities, released Sunday.
In addition, an estimated 7,500 kids are hospitalized annually after being wounded by gunfire, a figure that spiked by more than 80 percent from 1997 to 2009, according two Boston doctors presenting their findings at a conference of the American Academy of Pediatrics, held in Orlando, Fla.
Eight of every 10 firearm wounds were inflicted by handguns, according to hospital records reviewed by the doctors. They say the national conversation about guns should shift toward the danger posed by smaller weapons, not the recent fights over limiting the availability of military-style, semi-automatic rifles.
“Handguns account for the majority of childhood gunshot wounds and this number appears to be increasing over the last decade,” said Dr. Arin L. Madenci, a surgical resident at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital and one of the study’s two authors. “Furthermore, states with higher percentages of household firearm ownership also tended to have higher proportions of childhood gunshot wounds, especially those occurring in the home.”
Among homes with children, rates of gun possession ranged from 10 percent in New Jersey, for instance, to 62 percent in Montana, the researchers found.
Madenci, and his colleague, Dr. Christopher Weldon, a surgeon at Boston Children’s Hospital, tallied the new statistics by culling a national database of 36 million pediatric hospitalizations from 1997 to 2009, the most recent year for which figures are available.
The Facebook Town Hall interview with Vice President Joe Biden conducted earlier this week by Parents.com executive editor Michael Kress has made headlines on a wide range of outlets, with analysts and reporters commenting in particular on a comment Biden made urging a mother to “buy a shotgun” instead of a weapon with a high-capacity magazine.
Wednesday night, the moment was featured as the “Moment of Zen” on the Comedy Central program “The Daily Show” (video below). Here are links to some other news reactions to the Town Hall:
Gawker.com: Joe Biden’s Advice for Defending Your Home: ‘Buy a Shotgun, Buy a Shotgun’
One questioner equated gun control to drug control — if criminalizing drugs didn’t get them off the streets, why will criminalizing guns? — and a second asked if limiting assault weapons and high-capacity magazines would limit people’s ability to protect themselves.
“Is this Parents Magazine? I have Parents Magazine. I’ve never heard anybody in Parents Magazine ask these kinds of questions,” Biden said.
On the question about drug control, he tried to tamp down the notion that the administration wants to criminalize guns (“There is no ban on guns, no one’s banning a gun.”) and he took issue with the comparison to illegal drugs.
“Are you suggesting we have no, we just legalize all drugs? Is that what you’re suggesting? That would go real well in Parents Magazine,” Biden said. “Let’s talk about being able to — no matter what your age — go out and be able to purchase cocaine. What do you think about that idea?”
“Look, these comparisons are not appropriate, quite frankly, but secondly the idea [that] you should have no law unless the law you have prevents all violations of that law, that is not the way society works.”
Florida’s governor, Rick Scott, signed a law this month making the state the first to prohibit doctors–including pediatricians–from asking patients or patients’ parents whether they own a gun. Doctors who do ask such questions are subject to discipline by the state’s medical board. Several other states are considering similar proposals, according to an article published in The Boston Globe.
Pediatricians often counsel patients on safety issues, chiefly around swimming pools, household chemicals, bicycle safety…and guns. The Globe cited statistics that support this practice:
The idea that firearms are out of bounds for doctors, who are committed to preventing illness and injury, is preposterous, opponents said. Between 2003 and 2007, the most recent years for which data are available, 152,519 people were killed by firearms, including more than 15,000 children and teenagers, according to a US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention database that collects information from death certificates.
Gun rights groups, including the National Rifle Association, supported the bill on the grounds that it protects a family’s right to privacy. “You have a right to seek medical care without being interrogated about the private property that you own,” Marion Hammer, executive director of Unified Sportsmen of Florida and a former National Rifle Association president, told the Florida Times-Union newspaper in January.
What do you think about this new Florida law, and about the rights of doctors to advise patients on gun safety?