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Yes, firearms are the new leading cause of death among kids, according to most recent data

Motor vehicle deaths are still the leading cause of death for the last decade.

WASHINGTON — Amid the calls for stricter gun laws and efforts to prevent future tragedies like the mass shooting this week in Uvalde, Texas, gun reform advocates point to a sobering statistic: Firearms are the leading cause of death among U.S. kids and teens. 

This became true for the first time in 2020, but whether or not it’s still the case remains to be seen.

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Are firearms the leading cause of death among American kids and teenagers?


The CDC’s cause of death database


Yes, based on the most recent year – but overall, for the last 10 years, motor vehicle deaths surpass those related to firearms.


Social media is full of tweets and social media posts decrying firearms as the leading killer of American kids and teenagers.

We looked into the data from the official CDC cause of death database, and ran the numbers through 2020, the latest year for which information is available.

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In 2020, firearms were associated with more deaths among people aged 19 and younger than any other factor. That includes people who died by suicide, homicide, and in accidents. Until that year, and overall for 2000 through 2020, motor vehicle accidents had been the leading cause of death. We tallied a total of 4,243 CDC-reported deaths by firearm, versus 3,711 motor vehicle deaths. 

The rate of deaths involving guns has, in general, steadily increased over the last 10 years. 

Credit: WUSA
Rate of firearm deaths vs. motor vehicle deaths from 2012-2020. (Ages 0-19)

However, whether or not 2020 was an outlier or the new normal remains to be seen. 

For the 0-19 age group, we also ran the numbers for 2010 through 2020. The rate of deaths involving firearms is less than 7%, but those involving motor vehicles accounted for nearly 9% of all deaths.

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