A recent study suggests implementing a multidimensional strategy to address poverty and firearm-related deaths after associating high county-level poverty with gun deaths among children and young adults.
The public health study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Pediatrics found that more than half of all gun deaths, including two-thirds of firearm-related homicides, of young Americans could be associated with living in a county with a high concentration of poverty.
The three authors, affiliated with public health programs in New York, Boston and Chicago and led by physician Dr. Jefferson T. Barrett, concluded that there’s an urgent need for the development of a multifaceted strategy to reduce poverty and firearm-related deaths among youth living in poor communities.
They reached that conclusion after studying nearly 68,000 firearm-related deaths among Americans aged 5 to 24 between 2007 and 2016. They cross-referenced data they obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Compressed Mortality File and the U.S. Census Bureau. The fatalities studied included homicides, suicides and accidental deaths, and the results were controlled for demographic variables, urbanicity and estimated statewide firearm prevalence.
The researchers broke county-level poverty rates down into these categories: 0% to 4.9%; 5% to 9.9%; 10% to 14.9%; 15% to 19.9%; and 20% or higher. They found that if all counties had the same risk of firearm-related death as those in the least impoverished counties, almost 34,300 young people would not have died when they did, and a total of 3.8 million years of potential life might have been lived out.