The number of Wisconsin children killed by guns has risen in recent years but the national rate has dropped according to a report released by the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families (WCCF).
In Wisconsin, the number of children killed by guns rose 31 percent, while the national rate fell seven percent between 2008 to 2010 and 2012 to 2014. Firearms have become the third leading cause of injury death for Wisconsin children, and have taken the lives of more children then fires, drowning, and falls combined.
Gun related deaths for children increased with certain demographics.
The study found older children are more likely to be killed by firearms. Fifty-seven percent of children killed between 1994 and 2014 were 16 or 17 years old. Five out of six were male.
Children are more likely to die from firearms in Milwaukee County than any other county in Wisconsin. Milwaukee County accounts for 41% of child firearm deaths in the state, with 167 deaths between 1994 and 2014. Thirty children were killed in the area of Brown, Outagamie and Winnebago Counties during the same time period, which was higher than other areas in the state. Dane County had 16 child gun fatalities in this period.
African-American children are nearly five times more likely to be killed by firearms than white children and are 42 percent more likely to die from guns compared to other states.
The cause of the increase in child gun deaths is unclear and so is the increased rate with African-American children.
Ken Taylor, WCCF Executive Director, responded to the report.
“People in our state hold passionate and differing opinions about guns, but we can all agree that no child should be killed by a firearm," said Taylor. “Let’s protect our children by working together to find common sense solutions that will prevent the death of Wisconsin’s youngest residents.”
There are a variety of practices that the WCCF recommends to reduce the number of child fatalities:
• Designing guns in way that would make them more difficult to operate by children and other unauthorized users
• Improving storage techniques of guns in homes
• Encouraging families to talk to their doctor about gun safety and storage
• Broadening penalties for owners who are careless with their guns
For more information or to see the full report, visit: Wisconsin Council on Children and Families website.