Guns Are Leading Cause of Death in Children and Teens

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According to data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) firearms have been the leading cause of death for children and teens since 2020 when gun deaths surpassed car accidents. Guns are not in the top four causes of death for children and teens in any other country.

In 2021, gun deaths accounted for 18.7% of deaths for people 1 to 18 years old, car accidents followed with 16.5% of deaths. Cancer came in third with 8.1%, followed by poisoning with 7.2% and suffocation with 6.2% of childhood and teen deaths.

Youth deaths increased during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic due to fatal injuries. Firearms deaths accounted for 47.8% of that increase. 

In 2023, there have been 135 mass shootings verified by the Gun Violence Archive as of Apr. 3. 428 kids and teens (to age 17) were killed and another 1,025 were injured. 

According to the K-12 School Shooting Database compiled by David Riedman, there have been 89 school shootings in 2023 as of the Mar. 27, 2023 shooting at Covenant School in Nashville, TN. Those 89 incidents have resulted in 18 victims killed and 56 wounded.

The increase in youth deaths coincides with an increase in American dissatisfaction with gun laws. Gallup recorded a 63% dissatisfaction rate, the highest since 2001 when Gallup began asking the question, and a satisfaction rate of 34%, which ties the lowest rate on record. 

Megan Brenan, Research Consultant at Gallup, noted: “Attitudes shifted after the December 2012 mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, which claimed the lives of 20 children and six adults. Since 2013, majorities of U.S. adults have been dissatisfied, as mass shootings have continued in the U.S.”

Discussion Questions

1. Should more gun control laws be enacted? Why or why not?

2. If more gun control laws should be enacted, which level(s) of government should do so? Explain your answer(s).

3. If more laws should not be enacted, what other solutions are there for school (and other) shootings? Explain your answer(s).


Megan Brenan, “Dissatisfaction With U.S. Gun Laws Hits New High,”, Feb. 15, 2023

Annette Choi, “Children and Teens Are More Likely to Die by Guns than Anything Else,”, Mar. 29, 2023

Gun Violence Archive, (accessed Apr. 3, 2023)

David Riedman, K-12 School Shooting Database,, (accessed Apr. 3, 2023)

Steven H. Woolf, Elizabeth R. Wolf, and Frederick P. Rivara, “The New Crisis of Increasing All-Cause Mortality in US Children and Adolescents,”, Mar. 13, 2023