Why 2020 Could be a Record Year for Children Injured by Guns
Nearly two dozen gunshot wound patients treated at Cook Children's so far this year
The number of patients treated for gunshot injuries at Cook Children’s is on the rise, and experts fear the trend may continue with a recent surge of firearm sales. A Fort Worth child under the age of 5 became the hospital’s 23rd gunshot wound patient of 2020 after reportedly finding a loaded gun in late August. That same month, roughly 1.8 million guns were sold, marking a 58% increase compared to the same time last year.
“We’ve seen gun sales increase significantly nationwide over the past several months,” said Dan Guzman, M.D., a Cook Children’s emergency physician. “Now, with many children being in the home for longer periods of time, curiosity and boredom are something we need to expect. We have to stay vigilant and make sure we’re doing everything we can to prevent a tragic accident.”
According to Small Arms Analytics and Forecasting, this year’s gun sales have already eclipsed 2019 by more than one million firearms.
“With the hunting season about to begin in earnest and the presidential election season about to start in earnest as well, 2020 will without doubt exceed the previous high of 16.6 million units sold in 2016,” SAAF chief economist Jurgen Brauer wrote in an emailed statement provided to FOX Business.
Last year, 41 children were admitted to Cook Children’s for injuries related to guns (including handguns, rifles, shotguns and other firearms such as BB guns.) With 23 children already injured in 2020, Dr. Guzman fears he could see more of these patients this year than last.
“I think most people think this ‘won’t happen to us’ because we’ve taught our kids to never touch guns,” Dr. Guzman said. “But if you aren’t taking the proper precautions as the adult and parent, it’s probably only a matter of when, not if, your life may be affected by an unintentional discharge involving someone you know, and maybe even your child.”
Building awareness for gun safety is a passion for Dr. Guzman. He’s the medical director of the Aim for Safety program at Cook Children’s, which promotes firearm safety for children. The program, which has been featured in several news stories, is a multi-step interactive experience that provides parental awareness and teaches children the steps they should take when they encounter a firearm.
“As parents need to feel comfortable having open-ended conversations with others where our children may play and stay,” he said. “That includes family members and close friends. Don’t be afraid to ask if there’s a gun in the home and if so, how it is stored. Keep the conversation focused on safety and not politics.”
Dr. Guzman offers these safety tips:
The 3 Ts of firearm safety and children
Talk – This includes your family, neighbors and friends. When your child visits other homes, ask the owners if there are guns in their homes and how they are stored. Dr. Guzman said this question is not to be insulting, but to keep your children safe from unsecured firearms.
Teach – Have a conversation with your kids about what to do if they see a gun:
- Don’t touch the gun
- Run away
- Tell someone
Take – Dr. Guzman is asking gun owners to take action and store their firearms properly. And, to take personal responsibility for our children’s safety.
Learn More about Cook Children's 'Aim For Safety' Program
Cook Children’s is looking for parents of children ages 4-12 years old to participate in a gun safety research project.
The study takes place on the Cook Children's main campus in Fort Worth, Texas, and participants must be willing to attend the onsite sessions.
- Participating in the study is completely FREE.
- Study includes one visit to Cook Children’s Medical Center and two follow-up phone calls.
- Parents will receive information on how they can obtain free firearm safety devices.
This project is being conducted by Dan Guzman, M.D., a Cook Children’s Emergency Department physician.