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Guns Killing More American Kids Than Cars

Kristi Noem and her Republican Party have spent the last couple decade promoting guns as an indispensable part of everyday life. Perhaps more than coincidentally, since 2017, guns have overtaken cars as the leading killer of children and young adults in America:

Mortality from Motor Vehicle Crashes and Firearms among Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults, United States, 2000–2020. In Lois K. Lee, Katherine Douglas, and David Hemenway, "Crossing Lines—A Change in the Leading Cause of Death Among U.S. Children," New England Journal of Medicine, 2022.04.16.
Mortality from Motor Vehicle Crashes and Firearms among Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults, United States, 2000–2020. In Lois K. Lee, Katherine Douglas, and David Hemenway, “Crossing Lines—A Change in the Leading Cause of Death Among U.S. Children,” New England Journal of Medicine, 2022.04.16.

We got on traffic fatalities in the 1960s and created federal programs to reduce the needless slaughter of children on the highways. We could make a comparable effort, to reduce gun bloodshed, if the gun industry weren’t standing in the way:

Two decades ago, the CDC proclaimed the reduction in deaths attributable to motor vehicle crashes to be one of the most substantial public health achievements of the 20th century.2 Most important, the United States established an infrastructure permitting continuous improvements in motor vehicle safety. At the forefront of this effort has been the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a federal agency whose mission is to save lives and prevent injuries caused by road-traffic crashes. Firearms, however, are one of the few products whose safety isn’t regulated by a designated federal agency.

…Injury and fatality data are of little use without research to uncover important trends, disparities, and associations. Such research is critical to developing, implementing, and evaluating injury-prevention initiatives. Although substantial federal funding has been devoted to research on motor vehicle crashes, the firearm industry and gun-rights organizations, led by the National Rifle Association (NRA), have been effective at keeping federal dollars from financing firearm-related research. Between 1996 and 2019, little federal research funding was appropriated for firearm-injury prevention, owing in large part to the Dickey Amendment. Unsurprisingly, researchers and policymakers know much more about the circumstances surrounding deaths from motor vehicle crashes and effective interventions for preventing traffic-related injuries and deaths than they do about firearm-related harm. Only in the past couple of years has there been a substantial increase in federal funding for firearm-related research — though not to levels commensurate with the size of the problem. The work of federally funded groups, such as the Firearm Safety Among Children and Teens consortium, will be important in advancing the science of firearm-injury prevention [Lois K. Lee, Katherine Douglas, and David Hemenway, “Crossing Lines—A Change in the Leading Cause of Death Among U.S. Children,” New England Journal of Medicine, 2022.04.16].

Science and policy can save lives. But while some policymakers shout “We love babies!“, we love our guns just a little bit more.


  1. larry kurtz 2022-04-17 10:14

    American teevee is to blame. Even the National Rapine Association (NRA) abhorred gun violence until it became politically expedient to morph into the evil commercial tv created for viewers. Fake cowboys killing fake Indians with fake guns and fake bullets sanitized events like Wounded Knee and Juneteenth just so white people might forget about colonization until scholars mucked it up with critical race theory.

  2. Eve Fisher 2022-04-17 10:26

    And the NRA wants us all to own multiple guns to defend ourselves against everyone around us who scares us! (Not applicable to women defending themselves against their domestic abuser, of course. There are limits.)

  3. All Mammal 2022-04-17 10:49

    “Violence is the disease and guns are the virus. Once a child sees gun violence, he is infected.” Law and Order SVU. Glad the NRA wasn’t powerful enough to shut up Dick Wolf.

  4. All Mammal 2022-04-17 11:00

    As I drive the streets of the North side of my city, it is an unwavering sequence: Liquor store, Pawn shop, Casino. Liquor store, Pawn shop, Casino. Over and over and over. Busier than ever on Easter.

  5. mike from iowa 2022-04-17 12:41

    Magats ignored covid and fixated on the big lie of election theft. They will ignore gun deaths just like the pooh-poohed covid deaths as a Democratic hoax.

    Their entire attention span is tied to making sure the next election is stolen in their favor, after which they will push for taxcuts for the koch bro and more guns to protect our borders.

  6. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-04-17 14:36

    Car manufacturers seem more inclined to help study their product and design new safety features. Do the gun makers have anything like crash test dummies that they use to figure out damage their products can do to guide safer designs?

    Oh, no, of course not. Guns are designed to do damage and death. Making them safer would make them less fun and profitable.

    Talk about an industry that needs to be taxed to death.

  7. buckobear 2022-04-17 17:45

    Remember though, car manufacturers had to have seat belts, air bags and better crash survivability shoved down their throats by law.
    There is a solution to the gun business.

  8. O 2022-04-17 19:01

    Larry, teevee is not to blame. Gun manufacturers and their greed is to blame. Access to ready weapons is killing Americans pure and simple.

    Eve, the NRA wants us all to own guns, guns, and more guns because that is where the profit is. They are the marketing arm of gun manufacturing. Fear/self defense is only their marketing ploy.

    MFI, I don’t think the “pro-lifers”deny or even ignore gun deaths, they accept that as to cost for their freedom. Those deaths are a cost of doing business, a trade they are openingly willing to make to preserve their ability to deal out deadly force at their own discretion.

    Buckobear, the difference between making cars safer and making guns safer is that the goal is 180 degrees apart for creating safety in those two products. Guns, bu their very reason for being, are deadly. The “pro-lifers” also ensure the manufacturers of these deadly weapons are shielded form responsibility for the deaths caused by their products (unlike automobiles or cigarettes).

  9. grudznick 2022-04-17 19:19

    Ms. Mammal, grudznick usually stays out of that part of town except when I’m going to the Fleet Farm or the Morningside Cafe, and then I have them drive me up Lacrosse to have a look-see. I advise you avoid it as well, as you said even on an Easter day the pawn shops and rent-by-the-week motels had a good business going in their parking lots.

  10. DaveFN 2022-04-17 20:19

    Guns, a substitute for getting-off. Freud knew as much a century ago.

    “Although there has been no direct empirical evidence linking sexual dysfunction (SD) with gun ownership, speculation has been widespread and persistent for decades. In this paper, we formally examine the association between SD and gun ownership. Our primary hypothesis, derived from the psychosexual theory of gun ownership, asserts that men experiencing SD are more likely to personally own guns than other men. To test this hypothesis, we used recently collected data from the 2021 Crime, Health, and Politics Survey (CHAPS), a national probability sample of 780 men, and binary logistic regression to model gun ownership as a function of SD. Our key finding is that men experiencing SD are no more likely to own guns than men without SD. This interpretation was supported across several indicators of SD (performance anxiety, erection trouble, and ED medication) and gun ownership (personal gun ownership, purchasing a gun during the pandemic, and keeping a gun in one’s bedroom). To our knowledge, we are the first to have directly tested the association between SD and gun ownership in America. Our findings are important because they contribute to our understanding of factors associated with gun ownership by challenging the belief that phallic symbolism and masculinity somehow drive men with SD to purchase guns. Our results also remind us of the perils of gun culture rhetoric, which, in this case, function to discredit gun owners and to further stigmatize men with ED. We conclude by calling for more evidence-based discussions of SD and guns in society. ”

  11. larry kurtz 2022-04-17 21:51

    Until the Vietnam War school shootings were rare and scattered but after commercial teevee brought the carnage into every American living room something changed. School shootings spiked to seventeen in the 1960s. There were thirty school shootings in the 1970s, 39 in the 1980s, 62 in the 1990s, 64 in the 2000s and 180 in the 2010s.

    Today it’s off the charts.

    Commercial teevee truly is the most dangerous gateway drug. How many more people will be caught in or die from as yet uncounted crossfires?

    Prohibition doesn’t work.

    Raise the age of civilian possession, operation and ownership of all firearms to 21, levy 100% excise taxes on the sales and tracked gifting of the weapons on Senator Diane Feinstein’s list then tag the revenue for Medicaid expansion so parents have the resources to address the devastating effects of commercial teevee on American youth.

  12. O 2022-04-17 22:29

    Larry, when considering the increase of gun violence (including school shootings) how can the boom in gun ownership not be the first item of discussion in causality. The fact we are mass producing the elements of that violence MUST be the center of any serious discussion. Watch as much violent TV as you please, but sans a gun in your hand, I’m just not worried about shootings.

    Guns kill people. It is what they were made to do.

  13. leslie 2022-04-18 00:53

    We don’t love guns.

    Kristi Noem and her Republican Party have spent the last couple decades promoting guns as an indispensable part of everyday life. The death dealers (Meth, “We’re” on it) (c) Governor Noem, (R., SD)

  14. Donald Pay 2022-04-18 09:54

    All Mammal points out the social climate created by businesses and lax zoning by local government that lead to crime. I watched as the city approved step-by-step the creation of a crime corridor on the East/North Street area in Rapid City. We had a neighborhood group to deal with some of the spill over. Police did a good job of taking care of the drug houses and domestic issues when the neighbors complained. This was during the “broken windows” era of policing, so they did try to get landlords and homeowners to get the housing into some decent shape, even providing landlords and homeowners with some free money. But when we asked about stopping the gambling/pawn shop/liquor store/payday loan/car title crime incubator they were creating, they just ignored us. They thought we were NIMBYing this issue, but it was impoverishing the area, and they cared more about the campaign donations the elitists like Grudz could provide, than what the people being buried by sleaze said.

  15. Allen Jeris 2022-04-18 13:48

    Criminals love unconstitutional gun laws. Statistically speaking, if I were to rob someone in their home, definitely going to want to do it in a state with the strictest gun laws.

  16. DaveFN 2022-04-18 13:59

    Studies with findings failing to find “direct empirical evidence linking sexual dysfunction (SD) with gun ownership” might as well ask the question: Is gun ownership necessary to the sexual functioning of their owners?

  17. Richard Schriever 2022-04-18 14:04

    Allen – because that’s where the money is – right?

  18. Mark Anderson 2022-04-18 14:16

    Gosh Allen Jeris but it’s been established that the opposite is true. Hate to bust your little bubble and all. Just read it today too.

  19. Allen Jeris 2022-04-18 14:27

    Gosh Mark, if you say so it must be true… maybe we can talk about how many people have been able to protect their families from home invaders due to having a gun? I suppose you think us law abiding gun owners should protect ourselves with a butter knife?

  20. Mark Anderson 2022-04-18 14:37

    Just read the facts Allen, its easy to look up. The states with the toughest gun laws are safer. However I would use a steak knife instead of a butter knife. A butter knife is only good for spreading disinformation.

  21. Mark Anderson 2022-04-18 15:16

    One more thing, Mississippi has the highest death rate and the least amount of gun laws. South Dakota is only the fifth from the bottom. Come on, just a few more deaths for number one, you can’t let Mississippi get away with that. Even the coyote women beat Ole Miss.

  22. John Dale 2022-04-18 18:01

    Rifles and pistols do not kill people.

    Gun violence is up because some kind of anti-Trump (anti-America) end game was initiated in 2019 after years of information war prep.

    The decrease in car crash death also corresponds with the deregulation/legalization/decriminalization of Cannabis.

    I bet there was also a huge swath of elderly that stopped driving during that period.

    In searching for alternative causes of the decreases of car crashes, I looked at fuel prices and used car prices.

    I think both are relevant, but not directly proximate.

    It’s clear that when we have a more stable government that favors (or at least appears to favor) its nation-state, the gun violence is not as bad.

    Do these statistics, like many gun violence statistics, exclude suicides committed with firearms?

  23. larry kurtz 2022-04-18 18:12

    Still believe the Second Amendment is absolute?

    Think again.

    The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) will make sure you lose your Second Amendment rights if you admit to an addiction to cannabis, therapeutic or otherwise. “Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, [cannabis] or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?”

  24. Allen Jeris 2022-04-18 18:28

    Mark- My AR, and 6 pistols say otherwise. Notice how I say law abiding citizen. You keep your steak knife and see how far that gets ya. Maybe if you cared more about keeping people in prison for committing crimes with guns instead of criminalizing law abiding gun owners, maybe there would be less gun crime.

    We can do what-abouts and absolutes on just about anything. I’m talking about law abiding gun owners.

  25. bearcreekbat 2022-04-18 18:39

    The argument that criminals won’t obey gun laws so such laws are useless except to restrict law abiding citizens, makes as much sense as an argument that killers won’t obey homicide laws so such laws are useless except to restrict law abiding citizens.

  26. larry kurtz 2022-04-18 18:45

    I bought a Ruger 57 in January but the gun store wouldn’t let me have it until after President Biden’s inauguration.

  27. Mark Anderson 2022-04-18 19:15

    Well Allen, states that have more “freedom” have more gun deaths per capita. That’s just how it is. More law abiding gun owners more death. You can check PEW on that, I know it stinks, but never the less. About 53 per cent of those are suicides. There I addressed that issue for you John Dale. I’m trying to reconcile my steak knife and rifles and pistols don’t kill people. Which is it?
    By the way you both should read the kid who was at Biden signing on ghost guns, its very informative and its getting at criminals who get away with it by the help of their friends in the industry.

  28. O 2022-04-18 20:10

    Allen, irregardless of my state’s lax gun laws, I will not shoot you over the loss of a TV.

  29. grudznick 2022-04-18 21:10


  30. All Mammal 2022-04-18 21:47

    If women could rally for prohibition before they gained the vote, and a bunch of bereaved mothers lobbied for numerous laws, safety standards, and insurance mandates with MADD, women can do something about knocking warlords and manufacturers of WMDs down a peg or two. Harnessing the power of unity in times where Noem-woman-hater-trolls are rampant is paramount. Sí se puede.

    I have witnessed gun violence and feel the pain of mothers in Chicago and Baltimore and Kiev and Caracas. True blue Americans do not have to put up with chalk lines on the sidewalk and enduring domestic terrorist spouses and fearing the kid who slipped through the cracks without having a parent to remind them not to take their gun to town, or school. After the Orlando night club killings, every man and woman in the position to heed the students across the country’s desperate cries to thwart gun violence, didn’t do what the youth called upon them to do. According to my calculations, those students should be able to heat up the voting polls by now.

    How hard is it to add a couple more check boxes on the sales form? I wouldn’t mind checking extra boxes like: Have you had homicidal or suicidal thoughts within the past 5 years? Do you have any intentions of hurting others? Do you intend to kill someone? Are you mentally healthy? Do you take medications with emotional or behavioral side effects? Are you afraid of any certain individual or race? Are you xenophobic? Are you into stalking? Are you a misogamist? Do you intend to use a firearm to commit crime or intimidate?
    It is not a huge leap, but questions like this preceding gun purchases seems elementary. Then we can move onto banning together to exterminate gun culture as it is known to our kids. They need alternatives. Dialogue to practice conversing instead of freaking out like they see moron adults do instead of effectively communicate. A future to protect for themselves. Resources to research the conspiracy for themselves concerning the profiteers of their lost lives. Lead is poisonous. Educate, participate, liberate.

    Mr. G, I was happy to figure out the old East North St. casino was hopping like a Paschal bunny yesterday because the cannabis legalization squad was petitioning for signatures. They had a drive-thru in that parking lot. Besides that, I could never avoid the Northside because I live creekfront right down that hill on the MniLuzahan. Plus I was dubbed Northside Nasty(chug-a-lug-thug) in 8th grade based on my proclivity to get scary when it came to sticking up for kids against bullies(the second part came way later) If you prefer, I can guarantee your safety and even a pleasant time next time you come through. Don’t hesitate to ask:D

  31. All Mammal 2022-04-18 21:54

    * not misogamist. I meant misogynist
    Sorry for multiple errors. Must not have proofread.

  32. DaveFN 2022-04-18 23:08

    John Dale

    “Rifles and pistols do not kill people.”

    Correct. People who have rifles and pistols kill people.

    Get rid of rifles and pistols and people won’t be killing with them.

  33. jerry 2022-04-19 03:03

    Allen Juris, any idea on how much weight you would be packing with all those gunnery’s and their ammo for a patrol? You boneheads make an old grunt giggle with your dumbass talk. You guys all act like you will be driving into combat in your widdle suv’s and then go home to momma to be tucked in for the night. News flash for youse, you will be humping with your weapon and your ammo along with food and lots of water. Figure it out on how much you can pack, it should add up to between 80 and 100 pounds plus your ruck. How fast do you think you can burn through that ammo you packed? Goes pretty damn fast when it gets real. Figure out who is gonna resupply you and how?

    You and John Dale would be shucking those pistols and their ammo on the trail except for maybe one. If you take one for team red, who will come and get you and where will they take you? Hope you don’t get gut shot as their is nothing like the smell of a perforated bowel to add to the misery and pain, so save one bullet for that special pistol, probably will need it. War is a bitch man. Stop trying to figure out how many guns you can have and more on how to find peace as law abiding citizens.

  34. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-04-19 06:06

    Allen, can you provide empirical evidence supporting your wishful personal speculation about crime rates and gun laws? I mean, I provided evidence that guns are the leading killer of children, and the weight of that unrefuted evidence has driven you to go off on a personal tangent. Is there evidence that criminals travel the country and settle in places with strict gun laws in order to increase their criminal profit margins?

    And 6 pistols and a rifle? You can only fire one of those accurately at a time.

  35. Dicta 2022-04-19 07:24

    “Gun violence is up because some kind of anti-Trump (anti-America) end game was initiated in 2019 after years of information war prep.”

    You’re an absolute lunatic. Full stop and not a joke.

  36. mike from iowa 2022-04-19 08:46

    How many good people has Allen Jeris saved from a bad guy with a gun? None? Not holding up his end as an ammosexual is he? Can’t protect the masses sitting on yer butt waiting for someone to break in. What kind of patriotic ammosexual are you, anyway?

  37. mike from iowa 2022-04-19 08:55

    Fake Noize reports increase in Black American deaths is caused by defund the police. From a study by Manhattan Institute which I will not bother to link to.

  38. cibvet 2022-04-19 10:40

    Excellent reply Jerry. Talk is cheap when sitting on a couch playing their xbox and romanticizing about war.
    Most do not realize there is no reset button once you are killed.

  39. Allen Jeris 2022-04-19 21:16

    Every time I post evidence or research, i here the same thing over and over. Maybe we should ask Chicago how gun laws curb violence? Or maybe we can talk about assaulting children in school? Don’t need a gun to do that now do we Cory?

    Jerry-I am a law abiding gun owner who likes to shoot targets. I hope I never have to see the day were I would have to use it to protect myself or my family. I respect guns. You talking about war and end days just leaves me bewildered. Not sure what any of this has to do with me. All stuff you would never say to my face so it means nothing to me.

  40. larry kurtz 2022-04-19 21:22

    When Garrison Keillor opened A Prairie Home Campanion in the Rapid City Civic Center Theatre on November 20, 1999 he cited a statistic that Pennington County has the highest per capita gun ownership in the United States. A nervous chuckle rolled through the audience.

    In one thought intersection during her 2012 presentation in Santa Fe Michelle Alexander used the example of any kid in South Dakota (a state where suicide is the 9th leading cause of death) having easy access to illegal drugs but whose family can’t afford or lives too far from clinical care.

    In 2018 the Rapid City Journal blamed the South Dakota Republican Party for spikes in suicides and depression then a Sanford Health executive did the same last year. South Dakota is ranked 6th highest in the nation for suicides reporting more than 22 self-administered terminations per 100,000 people or an increase of 59% since 1999 and the 11th highest increase in any state.

    It’s becoming increasingly apparent that Republicans are suffering from mass clinical depression comorbid with suicide ideation. Gun carrying people are saying they are being responsible (but won’t be held liable) for our safety if the rest of us don’t, or refuse to, carry. Stand your ground has become vigilante justice because the courts are overwhelmed with suspects in the war on drugs, our communities are becoming armed camps and we’re barricaded in our homes afraid to let our kids go to school. A study recently published in the Journal of Rural Health found the suicide rate for farmers is not only the highest of any occupation in America, it’s spiking because of a lack of ready access to mental health care services.

  41. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-04-20 07:03

    Allen, post your evidence. You’re just trying to distract from the fact that you can’t back up your distracting claim at the same level of responsibility as I have backed up mine.

    The evidence clearly shows that guns are now killing more kids than cars. That awful toll coincides with the push by gun absolutists for more guns everywhere.

    There is no evidence that the increasing number of children dying from firearms is outweighed by any benefits provided by erasing gun laws and carrying more guns around the home and on the street. If you can’t provide that evidence, please don’t make such claims.

  42. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-04-20 07:11

    You mention Chicago; how about I provide evidence?

    In December 2018, AP reported that Chicago is not the nation’s “murder capital” and does not have the nation’s toughest gun laws.

    A 2017 report found that 60% of the guns used in crimes in Chicago came from other states with looser gun laws. If other states maintained more sensible restrictions on guns, it would be harder for Chicago criminals to hop the state line and get guns to make trouble. A 2022 report identifies the same problem in U.S. territories, which find their gun laws circumvented by folks importing guns from states with lax regulations.

    It’s kind of like coronavirus prevention: masks and vaccines keep people safer, but only if we all agree to use them.

  43. A J Foster 2022-04-22 09:18

    Amazing that the fact that parents have bought video games , teaching these children the rewards of destroying others which in turn leaves them with a feeling of no remorse in destruction of real lives. Instead of blaming the gun look at the teaching role of these obscene games.

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