Sep 6, 2023 - News

Louisiana has the country's worst gun death rate for children

Photo shows crime scene investigators after a shooting at a Mardi Gras parade

New Orleans crime lab employees collect evidence after a shooting during the 2023 Bacchus parade killed a teen and injured four others, including a 4-year-old girl and an 18-year-old. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

Firearm deaths among children in the U.S. hit a new record high in 2021, with Louisiana sadly leading the way, according to a study published recently in the journal Pediatrics.

Driving the news: The study, based on government data, points to the worsening of an already distressing trend, after guns became the leading cause of death for children for the first time in 2020.

  • Car crashes are the No. 2 cause of death for children in the U.S.

By the numbers: Louisiana had the highest rate with 17 deaths per 100,000 people, according to the study. Nationally, the rate was 5.8.

  • Mississippi (14.8), Alabama (11.4), Montana (11.1) and South Carolina (10.2) were other top states.
  • Gun deaths in the South were more likely to be homicides, while suicides were more common in the Midwest, the researchers said.

Between the lines: In New Orleans, 119 people have been murdered so far this year, according to data from the New Orleans Police Department. Of those, 11 were younger than 18.

  • Firearms are responsible for nearly 97% of the city's murders this year, NOPD says.

Zoom out: There were 4,752 pediatric firearm deaths nationally in 2021 — an 8.8% increase from the year before, the study found. Between 2018 and 2021, the pediatric firearm death rate rose 41.5%.

  • "Spikes in firearm purchasing during the pandemic were substantial, resulting in roughly 30 million children living in households with firearms, a known risk factor for pediatric firearm injury," the researchers wrote.

Zoom in: Gun deaths among children nationally have "disproportionately affected communities of color," said the study, which is based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • Nearly 50% of children who died by firearms in 2021 were Black, and Black children "accounted for the greatest increase in death rate" from 2020 to 2021, per the study.
  • "With respect to firearm homicides, in 2021, the death rate was 11 times higher for Black children compared with white children ... representing the largest disparity gap in the 4 years of this study."

The big picture: Nearly 85% of children who died from firearms in 2021 were male, and the firearm death rate among males has increased since 2018.

  • About 83% of pediatric firearm deaths were among adolescents aged 15 to 19 years old, a 5.2% increase from the 2020 rate.

State of play: The new study aligns with earlier findings on the topic.

  • A Pew Research Center report earlier this year found that gun deaths among U.S. kids rose 50% between 2019 and 2021.
  • The number of children killed by guns in 2021 was higher than in any year since 1999, the first year the CDC began tracking the data, according to the report.

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