Anti-gun proponents like to produce headlines showing a young child accidentally shot another family member with a pistol, but that kind of cultural framing may be doing more harm than good, because a new study reaffirms what most gun owners knew: Gun harm is not caused by lazy or irresponsible gun owners letting their kids get them by mistake, it is from assaults by men. And teenagers at greatest risk for committing acts of violence are at greatest risk of receiving it, not pre-schoolers.

Of the over 75,000 youths who visited emergency rooms for gun-related injuries from 2006 to 2014, 86.2 percent were males and overwhelmingly in large cities.

Boys were over five times more likely than girls to have visited an emergency room for a gunshot wound. And when they are nearly old enough to vote, young men account for 85.9 out of every 100,000 taken to an emergency room to be treated for a gunshot wound. Contrast that to girls, where the incidence hovered between 2.4 and 4 cases per 100,000 during the nine years analyzed. Just 2 percent of gunshot wounds in youths were attempted suicides. 

There is good news also. Incidents of gun violence continue to plummet, tragic headlines about synagogues or school shootings aside. The incidence among boys overall hovers at around half of what it was even 10 years ago. 

Citation: Faiz Gani, Joseph K. Canner, Trends in the Incidence of and Charges Associated With Firearm-Related Injuries Among Pediatric Patients, 2006-2014, JAMA Pediatrics October 29, 2018. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2018.3091