The number of US kids and teens who die from gunshot wounds in hospital has risen almost 60% in a decade, according to a new report. The study by two doctors looked at data from 1997 to 2009, and found the number of those hospitalized with gunshot wounds rose from 4,270 to 7,730, while the number of those that then died from them climbed from 317 to 503, NBC News reports. Eight out of 10 of the wounds came from handguns, says study author Arin L. Madenci. "Furthermore, states with higher percentages of household firearm ownership also tended to have higher proportions of childhood gunshot wounds, especially those occurring in the home," he says.
As a result of the findings, the authors say, perhaps the national conversation about gun control should move from larger semi-automatic weapons to limiting the number of smaller firearms in homes. "While public health resources and policies have largely focused on military-style semi-automatic assault weapons, it may be more crucial to intervene on handguns," says Madenci, per Medical Daily. The director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research tells Discovery that research and data like this has been sorely lacking in the field since Congress stopped funding it in the 1990s. "I see this as a huge step forward," he says.