Accidental Shootings:

Data on Children

T-PEMD-91-15: Published: Sep 24, 1991. Publicly Released: Sep 24, 1991.

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GAO discussed accidental shootings, focusing on those involving children. GAO noted that: (1) among the 1,501 victims killed by accidental shootings in 1988, 18 percent were children under the age of 15; (2) firearms are the fourth leading cause of accidental deaths among children 5 to 14 years old, and the third leading cause among 15 to 24 year olds; (3) across all age groups, accidental shootings are the sixth leading cause of potential years of life lost due to accidents; (4) of 107 reviewed cases regarding accidental firearm related fatalities for 1988 and 1989, over half involved instances where children age 18 or younger accidentally shot and killed themselves or another person, and 1 in 5 cases involved children under the age of 13; (5) data on accidental shootings in 10 cities indicated that in 1988 and 1989 those areas had a ratio of 105 injuries for each death, suggesting that the number of accidental injuries due to firearms nationwide is substantial and far exceeds the number of fatalities; (6) from 1980 through 1988, about 15,000 people were killed in the United States by accidental discharges of firearms; (7) human, economic, and public health costs of those shootings to the victims, their families, and society are considerable; and (8) GAO believes that the magnitude of the problem requires all possible efforts be made to reduce the number of accidental shootings.

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