Guns claim kids’ lives in both urban, rural areas

CHICAGO (AP)—A new study finds that children in America’s most rural areas are as likely to die by gunshot as kids in the biggest cities.

Murders involving guns are more common among city youth. But gun suicides and accidental fatal shootings level the score: They are more common among rural kids.

“This debunks the myth that firearm death is a big-city problem,” said lead author Dr. Michael Nance of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “This is everybody’s problem.”

The researchers analyzed data on nearly 24,000 gun-related deaths among children 19 and younger from 1999 through 2006. That included about 15,000 homicides, about 7,000 suicides and about 1,400 accidental shootings for the eight-year period.

The researchers sorted them by county then compared the gun death rates for the most urban counties- those with populations of one million or more—and the most rural counties—the ones far from cities or with fewer than 2,500 people. They found essentially the same rate, about four deaths per 100,000 children. A previous analysis of adult deaths found similar patterns.

The new findings add important information to what’s known about guns and kids, sad Dr. Elizabeth Powell of Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.

“Prevention strategies need to be targeted to youth in rural areas as well as urban areas,” Powell said.

The findings were published in the journal Pediatrics.

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