City and Rural Firearms Deaths

The deaths of children and adolescents killed in firearms-related violence in cities is no greater than the deaths of those who die in rural settings. In fact, suicides and shootings are actually more common among country dwellers than among city dwellers. Such was the surprising conclusion of a recent-released eight-year study of 24,000 firearms deaths in both environments. Past studies have shown similar disparities in the causes of firearms deaths, but this is the first to show that disparities exist in the pediatrics population too. Results of the study first appeared in the June issue of Pediatrics, the official journal of the America Academy of Pediatrics. The findings reflect the fact that the greater homicide rate in urban areas “is counterbalanced by greater suicide and unintentional firearms death rates in rural counties.” The lead author, Dr. Michael Nance, of Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia, has asserted that the findings “debunked the myth that firearms death is [only] a big-city problem”.

The study notes, though, that cities do have higher rates of firearm homicides, whereas rural counties experienced higher rates of suicide and unintentional firearms deaths. Prevention strategies, it concluded, should be tailored to the needs of these two geographic regions in an effort to reduce death rates. In a severe disappointment for gun-control advocates, however, the Supreme Court’s recent ruling allowing handguns in the home for self-defense represents a sharp set-back. Gun control advocates now expect a spike in firearms-related deaths nationwide. Nevertheless, a step in the right direction remains the closing of gun show loopholes that allow firearms purchases without background checks.

George Anderson, S.J.



Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Stanley Kopacz
7 years 8 months ago
I would imagine that economic stress, which is present in the country as well as the city, plays a significant role.  One can ban firearms, which will be as successful as banning drugs, or try to create a more stable economy.  It is easy to create legislation, hard to produce jobs.
we vnornm
7 years 8 months ago
Th first bar graph is interesting showing the high percentage of rifles in lethal incidents in Wisconsin (39%) versus Washington (22%) and North Carolina (26%).
Many have considered long guns to be less a problem because they can't be concealed. No so in Wisconsin, where I suspect many long guns are not locked up, or if one is hunting with Dick Cheney. 
The medical profession could develop a standard questionnaire that could tease out further variables and info-every fire arm wound (I believe) is reportable.


Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

Xavier High School students fill West 16th Street during the National School Walkout Day. (Credit: Shawna Gallagher Vega/Xavier High School)
Our student body generated dialogue around a topic that we did not all agree on.
Devin OnMarch 23, 2018
Protesters gather near the Manchester Central Fire Station in Manchester, N.H., Monday, March 19, 2018, where President Donald Trump madee an unscheduled visit. Trump is in New Hampshire to unveil more of his plan to combat the nation's opioid crisis. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
To suggest the use of the death penalty as a way to address the opioid epidemic ignores what we know already to be true: The death penalty is a flawed and broken tool in the practical pursuit of justice.
Karen CliftonMarch 23, 2018
(Images: Wikimedia Commons, iStock/Composite: America)
An angel whispered in my ear: “Fred, ‘Be not afraid.’”
Fred DaleyMarch 23, 2018
(photo: Music Box Films)
“Back to Burgundy” is about family tensions boiled up by both the financial and artistic challenges of the wine business.