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Firearm injuries in children: Prevention

Anne C Gill, DrPH, MS, RN
David E Wesson, MD
Section Editor
Teresa K Duryea, MD
Deputy Editor
Mary M Torchia, MD


Firearm injury is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States and an important medical and public health problem. Children may be injured or killed in shootings; may lose parents, siblings, or other relatives in shootings; or may be adversely affected by witnessing shootings. (See "Intimate partner violence: Childhood exposure".)

Pediatric health professionals can provide leadership for improved gun safety through education of patients and families, advocacy for legislation that protects children from firearm injuries, or becoming informed spokespersons for firearm safety.

This topic review will describe the epidemiology of pediatric firearm injury and review strategies for prevention of firearm injuries in children. The primary focus will be on unintentional injuries. Intentional violence is discussed separately. (See "Peer violence and violence prevention" and "Suicidal behavior in children and adolescents: Epidemiology and risk factors".)

Societal issues associated with access to firearms, such as Second Amendment rights and individual freedoms and responsibilities, exceed the scope of this topic review.


Firearm injury is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States and an important medical and public health problem [1-4]. Rates of firearm homicide, suicide, and unintentional firearm deaths are higher in the United States than in other high-income countries [5,6].

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Nov 11, 2017.
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