Guns have finally beat out cars as the leading killer of American kids

From a recent report in the New England Journal of Medicine:

For more than 60 years, motor vehicle crashes were the leading cause of injury-related death among young people. Beginning in 2017, however, fire-arm-related injuries took their place to become the most common cause of death from injury.


Between 2000 and 2020, the number of firearm-related deaths among children, adolescents, and young adults increased from 6998 (7.30 per 100,000 persons) to 10,186 (10.28 per 100,000 persons), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Here's the real kicker though (emphasis added):

From 2019 to 2020, the relative increase in the rate of firearm-related deaths of all types (suicide, homicide, unintentional, and undetermined) among children and adolescents was 29.5% — more than twice as high as the relative increase in the general population.

As the paper notes, this is not exclusively due to a rise in gun violence (there were more than 45,000 gun-related deaths in the US in 2020), but also the fact that automobile-related deaths have been in decline — because, ya know, kids were dying, and people were like "hey what if urge our lawmakers to pass policies to make things safer instead of treating children like a blood sacrifice to altar of America." Or, as the authors of the paper wrote:

Research has shown that most injuries can be prevented by means of the manufacture and appropriate use of safe products and the implementation of policies reducing product-related danger and the occurrence of hazardous situations — the principles of harm reduction. Since the 1960s, continuous efforts have been directed toward preventing deaths from motor vehicle crashes. As a result, there has been a substantial reduction not just in fatality rates, but in rates of serious non-fatal injuries associated with motor vehicle crashes, among people of all ages.

Trying to improve society! What a concept!

I think Luke Hell broke this down with depressing perfection in his newsletter:

We measure the damage of storms in feet and we measure mass shootings by the number of bodies but I wondered if it would do anything if we measured shootings in feet too. If you gathered up all the spent bullet casings at a specific shooting how deep would they be? Or if you lined up all the bodies head to toe like you were laying railroad tracks how far would they reach?

The average adult in America is about 66 inches tall. Around 36,600 people die from gun violence here a year.

66 inches per body
2,415,600 inches

That's roughly 40 miles of bodies a year. 

Does that seem like a lot or a little to you because I guess I was thinking it would be more than that but then again I've never thought about it in these terms before so I have no frame of reference.

It would take you about an hour to drive from the beginning of the bodies to the end depending on traffic. Your kids would get bored on the trip there in the back of the car and you'd have to turn around and be like alright you two that's enough. 

Crossing Lines — A Change in the Leading Cause of Death among U.S. Children [Lois K. Lee, M.D., M.P.H.; Katherine Douglas, M.D.; and David Hemenway, Ph.D. / The New England Journal of Medicine]

The most American thing you can think of [Luke O'Neil / Welcome to Hell World]

Image: Public Domain