Using the 2012 Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project Kids' Inpatient Database, which tracks hospital stays for children, researchers found that more than 5,800 children were hospitalized with gunshot injuries that year. And while the majority of the injuries to kids under 15 were accidental, most of the wounds among teens ages 15 to 19 occurred during actual assaults.
The researchers also learned that 90 percent of the injured patients were male, and that more than half were likely to be black and live in poverty. The victims usually stayed in the hospital for a week, costing almost $23,000. The total estimated national cost of these hospitalizations in 2012? $130 million.
According to lead study author Dr. Alyssa Silver, the fact that 57 percent of firearm-related injuries in children under 15 years old were unintentional highlights the need for improved gun safety and storage practices.
"If we can talk to parents about it in the context like how we tell parents to use outlet covers and turn pot handles away so they are not reachable, that could help," she told CNN. "Maybe if we normalize gun safety more, more children will be made safe."