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Examining the Evidence: A Pediatric Perspective on Firearm Safety Research

Statement of Problem

On December 14, 2012, 20 children and 6 adults were the victims of gun violence at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut. Following this profound tragedy, families, educators, health professionals, and policymakers issued an urgent call for immediate action to prevent this kind of gun violence in the future, particularly to protect the most vulnerable among us: children.

In response to the Sandy Hook tragedy, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) established the Center for Violence Prevention (CVP), a multidisciplinary effort to reduce the exposure to and impact of violence among children, teens, and families through community-focused research and evidence-based programs. CVP, a PolicyLab partner, has since become a nationwide leader in hospital-based and community-delivered violence prevention interventions.

As of 2018, despite increased attention across the country to the epidemic of gun violence and the dangers firearms pose for youth, firearm-related injury remained the second-leading cause of death for children. Of the youth killed by guns in high-income countries, a staggering 92% are killed in the United States, and the overall rate of firearm fatalities among children has continued to increase. Throughout the country, the rate of firearm-related suicide in children has steadily risen since 2008, and firearm-related homicide has increased by 28% between 2014 and 2016.

This public health crisis impacts children and families physically and emotionally, and takes a toll on the vibrancy and economies of the communities it touches. Many policy proposals exist to prevent firearm injuries, but research specifically looking at the impact on child injury and death—including data that could inform solutions to move the needle on this issue—is lacking.


Next Steps

In the coming months, we’ll look to advance our recommendations and produce additional supportive guidance that could be valuable to leaders working in this space. It is our hope that these resources can guide policymakers looking to make evidence-informed decisions to keep families safe in their communities and across the country.

This project page was last updated in February 2021.

Suggested Citation

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, PolicyLab. Examining the Evidence: A Pediatric Perspective on Firearm Safety Research [online]. Available at: [Accessed: plug in date accessed here].