Guns are a leading cause of death among U.S. children, and the number of kids getting killed by bullets has been on the rise over the past three decades. But the toll that gun violence takes on kids’ health goes far beyond those high fatality rates, according to a new study. Even when children survive being shot, bullet wounds tend to cause the most serious types of injuries on their bodies, requiring complicated and costly types of surgery.
Researchers analyzed hospital data collected over the course of three years in several urban areas. They found that gunshot wounds contributed to the highest proportion of serious injuries (23 percent), major surgeries (32 percent), and deaths in hospitals (8 percent). Altogether, gunshot wounds were associated with 21 percent of all deaths among kids who landed in the ER after sustaining a serious injury.
And because the wounds caused by bullets are more likely to require specialized treatment, the emergency care for kids’ gunshot wounds typically costs more than $28,500 — much higher than the costs associated with any other type of injury. Injuries resulting from car accidents were the next most expensive, averaging a little more than $15,500…
“If we focus on just fatalities, we’re only looking at the tip of the iceberg,” Craig Newgard, who directs the Center for Policy and Research in Emergency Medicine…explained to USA Today. “In every metric that we looked at, the front-runner far and away for worst outcome and greatest impact was gunshot-related injuries.”
Last year’s mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, which killed nearly two dozen kindergartners, brought the issue of gun violence and children back to the forefront. But policy solutions to the problem have faltered, and thousands of Americans have gone on to be killed by guns since the Sandy Hook tragedy. Very young children are often accidentally shot by other children with firearms kept in their homes.
Medical advances have ensured that fewer Americans are dying from bullet wounds. But, since gun violence has actually been on the rise, that means more people are surviving after receiving treatment for serious gun-related injuries. According to research from the Centers for Disease Control, treating wounds resulting from gun injuries costs Americans an estimated $5.6 billion in medical bills each year.
Part of the core problem with American gun nuts is that the cost of killing our kids, the cost of keeping them alive but not really living anymore – doesn’t mean a damned thing. Income isn’t so much a decider as ideology. If you’re filled with enough dementia and fear, simple economics, humanist ethics are irrelevant.
BTW, guns are not part of a foreign culture to me. From one family member classed among the best military prototype gunsmiths in the nation, trap-shooting at the old Remington gun club, a friend who did [appropriate] time for manufacturing illegal machine guns – to decades of hunting, I’ve experienced an amazing range of legal and illegal gun culture. None of it was as lost and demented as what passes for today’s NRA and the gun nuts who support their extremely profitable religion.