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Here’s some sobering gun statistics.

A new report is showing that about 500 American children and teenagers die in hospitals every year from gunshot wounds. That number has climbed nearly 60 percent in a decade.

Additionally, another 7,500 children are hospitalized annually after being wounded by gunfire, according to two Boston doctors presenting their findings at a conference of the American Academy of Pediatrics, held in Orlando, Fla. Their findings also revealed that that figure has spiked by more than 80 percent from 1997 to 2009.

Another fact?

Eight out of 10 firearm wounds are inflicted by handguns, according to hospital records.

“Handguns account for the majority of childhood gunshot wounds and this number appears to be increasing over the last decade,” said Dr. Arin L. Madenci, a surgical resident at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital and one of the study’s two authors. “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.”

Among homes with children, rates of gun possession ranged from 10 percent in New Jersey, for instance, to 62 percent in Montana, the researchers found.

But while gun advocates don’t dispute the facts, they are saying that this conversation should be held within a larger context.

One calculation that’s mentioned too rarely involves the deaths and injuries that are prevented by legally armed citizens, said Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.

“When you look at the number of people who are alive today or who didn’t have to be hospitalized because they weren’t a victim — and the money saved on that — you have to look at that side of the equation to get good public policy,” Gottlieb said.

Either way, researchers have this message — the equation for cutting child deaths and injuries is clear. Some gun control policy.

“Policies designed to reduce the number of household firearms, especially handguns, may more effectively reduce the number of gunshot injuries in children,” Madenci said.



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