A new website www.childfirearmsafety.org, aims to help researchers, health care providers and others tackle the prevention of youth firearm injuries as a public health issue.
But while the number of young people who die each year from car and truck crashes has fallen, it's stayed about the same for guns.
‘Nearly 28,000 American children and teens have died because of firearms in the past decade—second only to the 44,800 who died in motor vehicle collisions.’
The site, www.childfirearmsafety.org, aims to share what's known—and what experts still need to find out—about guns and people under age 19. The site offers free access to a trove of dataon the issue, as well as training for health care providers and others.
It's the first product of a federally funded national effort called FACTS, for Firearm Safety Among Children and Teens.
Based at the University of Michigan, with more than two dozen researchers from 12 universities and health systems, FACTS aims to fill a knowledge gap about firearms and young people, and make up for a 'lost generation' of research on the issue. The effort is funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, part of the National Institutes of Health.
That knowledge lags far behind what we know about other top causes of death, disease and injury among children and teens, says Rebecca Cunningham, co-leader of FACTS and an emergency physician and associate vice president for research at U-M.
"Despite the death toll, research on the leading cause of death for young people gets at least 450 times more federal funding than research on firearms, the second-leading cause of death," Cunningham said. "Our nation cut the rate of motor vehicle collision deaths and injuries by at least 90 percent over the past 100 years through science, policy and public awareness, without reducing the number of miles we travel or the number of vehicles on the road.
"This website is a first step toward changing the equation on death and trauma from firearms among young people, while respecting the rights of citizens to own guns under state and federal laws."
Convening for change
Cunningham and FACTS colleagues and stakeholders from around the country recently held their first meeting on the U-M campus; a video of the event that capped the day is online.
The FACTS website is hosted and managed by the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research at the U-M Institute for Social Research. It features a searchable database of research papers by FACTS members on firearms and children, as well as downloadable data from previous research projects and a way for researchers to upload their own data to share with others.
Marc Zimmerman, the Marshall H. Becker Collegiate Professor at the U-M School of Public Health, and Patrick Carter, U-M assistant professor of emergency medicine, co-lead FACTS with Cunningham. In early 2019, they will publish review articles summarizing current evidence about firearms and young people, and begin awarding pilot grants to help jump-start new research.