Current Causes of Death in Children and Adolescents in the United States

In a recent post, I was critical of a publication in the New England Journal of Medicine called “Crossing Lines–A Change in the Leading Cause of Death among U.S. Children.” Despite the title focusing attention on “children,” the data cited in the article included deaths for individuals 1 to ***24*** years of age, which even in this coddled age stretches the definition of children too far.

I noted in that post, “it may be the case that the leading cause of death among U.S. children has changed. The data provided in this article don’t allow us to answer that question.”

Today I saw another piece in the NEJM that gets us closer to an answer, a letter entitled “Current Causes of Death in Children and Adolescents in the United States,” authored by scholars associated with the University of Michigan Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention.

From DOI: 10.1056/NEJMc2201761
Continue reading

The Culture of Fear Over (Gun) Violence Cuts Both Ways

In my just-released “Light Over Heat” YouTube video, I talk about how I am always looking for common ground in the great gun debates that are stalemated in America, including on gun violence prevention. This, of course, does not mean I simply accept research on gun violence at face value.

Raising questions about that research, however, often gives me a bit of an unsettled feeling because I don’t want to be seen as saying homicide, suicide, accidental death, or injury are no big deal.

These things ARE a big deal. They are negative outcomes in society that frequently involve guns that merit our attention and efforts at prevention or mitigation.

In my view, exaggeration so as to create a moral panic around these negative outcomes is a problem. Gun advocates are often criticized for creating a “culture of fear” to motivate gun ownership, but Barry Glassner’s classic analysis of the culture of fear can equally be applied to some gun violence prevention advocates in their efforts to motivate gun de-ownership and regulation.

Case in point: “Crossing Lines–A Change in the Leading Cause of Death among U.S. Children,” published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine.

Continue reading

It Was a Positive Experience to Experiment with Firearms in a Safe and Controlled Environment (Fall 2021 Student Range Visit Reflection #7)

This is the seventh of several student gun range field trip reflection essays from my fall 2021 Sociology of Guns seminar (see reflection #1, reflection #2, reflection #3, reflection #4, reflection #5, and reflection #6). The assignment to which students are responding can be found here. I am grateful to these students for their willingness to have their thoughts shared publicly.

By Adam Porth

Ever since I was little, my dad always taught me about gun safety and how to act around guns. Starting with nerf guns, all the way up to his prized Remington 870s, I was taught about the great pleasure that shooting guns can be if I follow all the rules to make sure myself and everyone around me were safe.

When it came to the field trip, however, I felt like half of the knowledge I had saved up over the years about gun safety had dwindled. As someone who handles guns relatively frequently, I was surprised to find out that I barely knew how to operate a simple .22 pistol that was so similar to the one I own at home. From this, I felt that no matter how acclimated you are (or think you are) to guns, there is still a rather startling feeling about picking up a new gun for the first time.

The author shooting at Veterans Range, September 2021. Photo by David Yamane
Continue reading