More kids killed by guns than military or police

Over the past two decades, there have been nearly four times more gun deaths among American children than among on-duty police and military personnel combined.

After a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas, President Joe Biden delivered a speech on June 2 calling for more restrictions on gun ownership.

In it, Biden made a claim about victims of gun violence.

“In the last two decades, more … children have died from guns than duty police officers and active military personnel combined,” he said. “Think about it: more children killed by guns than duty officers, more children killed by guns than soldiers.”

THE QUESTION

Have there been more gun deaths among American children than on-duty police and military personnel since 2000?

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

This is true.

Yes, since 2000, there have been more gun deaths among American children than the combined number of on-duty police and military personnel.

WHAT WE FOUND

The CDC tracks fatal injuries, including those caused by gun violence, and provides demographic information about victims, including age. The data dates back to 1999 and is current up to 2020.

For the two decades from 2000 to 2020, the CDC reports that 31,780 people under the age of 18 were killed by guns. These figures include homicides, suicides and accidents. The majority – 18,503 – are homicides.

Brady, a nonprofit focused on combating gun violence, argues that the CDC numbers are likely underestimated. Based on hospital data, Brady estimates that 1,839 children and youth die from gun violence each year — slightly more than the CDC totals.

The Department of Defense regularly updates the number of its employees, military and civilians killed in the line of duty. Over the past two decades, 7,075 soldiers have been killed in America’s various military operations.

The Watson Institute at Brown University reports a similar number, “7,057 soldiers killed in post-9/11 operations.”

None of the metrics break down fatalities by cause, so we don’t know how many soldiers were specifically killed by guns. However, even assuming that all deaths are due to guns, the number remains significantly lower than the nearly 32,000 children killed by guns over the same period.

The National Law Enforcement Memorial reports that 4,218 law enforcement officers died between 2000 and 2021. It is not broken down by cause of death.

The Officer Down Memorial Page does. A total of 4,598 deaths are reported between 2000 and June 3, 2022. Of these, 1,249 were due to gunshot or accidental firing.

The FBI also releases annual reports of law enforcement officers killed or assaulted. According to this data, 1,163 officers were killed by firearms between 2000 and 2021, mostly from crimes, some killed accidentally.

Taking the highest estimates of soldiers and police officers killed by firearms, a total of 8,323 people have died since 2000. By comparison, the lowest estimate for children killed by guns is 31,780 — a number that doesn’t include deaths in 2021 or 2022.

So President Biden’s statement is correct. In the last two decades, more children have been killed by guns than working police and soldiers combined. In fact, the number is almost four times higher.

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Alley Einstein

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