In the five years since 20 first-graders were shot to death at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Ct., the number of children under the age of 17 killed or wounded by gunfire in the U.S. is astounding, the Boston Globe reports. About 6,500 have been killed, and about 30,000 others have been wounded.
The numbers are crunched by averaging annual numbers of deaths and injuries recorded in recent years by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Experts like Dr. Michael Nance of the Pediatric Trauma Program at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, who has closely researched childhood gun injuries, said they believe the figures to be a fair representation, as stunning as they may seem.
“The numbers are unbelievably high,” Nance said. “While events like Sandy Hook and Aurora or Columbine grab the headlines, quite obviously the problem goes on every day, insidiously . . . drip . . . drip . . . drip. It isn’t the mass shootings that are the major issue, it is the daily repetition that leads to the numbers that are so unbelievable.”
The figures show that nationwide, between 2012 and 2015, the latest year of available data, about 1,300 children each year were killed by guns, and nearly 6,000 more were injured. “The numbers have been pretty consistent year after year,” said Dr. Eliot Nelson, a professor and pediatrician at the University of Vermont Children’s Hospital whose research has focused on injury prevention, including injuries from firearms.
“As a cause of death in our country, firearm injuries are really second only to motor vehicle accident injuries for young people.” A study by CDC researchers published in the journal Pediatrics found that the vast majority of those shooting victims were older children. A total of 82 percent of children killed by guns in recent years were between 13 and 17 years old. The rest — about 230 children a year on average — were 12 or younger.