Guns and young people definitely don't mix.
According to Center of Disease Control statistics, there were 2,711 firearm-related deaths of infants, children, and adolescents in 2010 alone. For young people between the ages of ten and nineteen, homicide and suicide are the second and third leading causes of death with 83.8 percent of homicides and 38.8 percent of suicides being firearm-related. For children between the age of one and nine, homicide was the fourth leading cause of death in 2010.
Research into gun deaths involving young people has turned up specific risk factors that appear to increase the likelihood of becoming a victim. Not only are homicides, suicides, and accidental deaths involving firearms more common in states with a high rate of gun ownership, but many of those deaths are directly linked to unsafe firearm storage in the home. Young people who commit suicide often use a gun belonging to a parent or other family member which they are able to access due to lax security. Despite the publicity that often surrounds gun deaths resulting from unsafe storage, many parents fail to take proper precautions. In one study published in 2007, only a third of gun-owning parents of small children report safe firearm storage in their homes. Handgun owners are also more likely to keep their guns loaded rather than storing ammunition separately.
To read more, check out my new Psychology Today post.