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Severity of Kids' Gun Injuries Getting Worse: Study
Date:4/24/2013

ren -- were killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newton, Conn.

Congress responded by crafting a bipartisan compromise that would have expanded background checks for gun buyers. But just last week, the U.S. Senate rejected the measure.

This latest study looked at nearly 7,000 kids between the ages of 4 and 17 who were treated at trauma centers in Denver and Aurora between 2000 and 2008. The study period did not include victims from the 2012 mass shooting at an Aurora movie theater that left a dozen dead and dozens more injured.

Overall, 129 children and teens were treated for firearm injuries, and 13 percent of them died. That compared to just less than 2 percent of kids who had suffered other types of injuries.

On average, the severity of kids' gun injuries rose from a nine on a standard scale in 2000 to a 15 by 2008. According to Sauaia, that translates to a twofold increase in the risk of death.

There was not enough reliable information to know the precise circumstances of each shooting, Sauaia said, but 14 percent of the gun injuries were determined to be self-inflicted.

"What we do know in those cases," Sauaia said, "is that a minor had access to a loaded, unlocked gun. I think we can all agree that's not a good thing."

Another expert agreed.

"Pediatric gun injury is a tremendous public health problem, and is largely preventable with measures most Americans support," said Dr. Beth Ebel, a pediatrician at Seattle Children's Hospital.

She said some "proven" safety measures include locking up guns -- unloaded and with the ammunition locked away separately -- and universal background checks for gun sales.

Fleegler said laws focused on child safety are key.

"Legislation aimed at improving child safety around firearms -- including childproofing handguns with special trigger locks, storing guns unloaded or inaccessible, and prohibiting juvenile handgun purchases -- would be a significa
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