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
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Light Over Heat #16: Finding Common Ground on Gun Violence Prevention

This week I offer a second reflection on the 2-day workshop I attended at the University of Connecticut in Harford for authors contributing to a special issue of The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science on gun violence. (The first reflection focuses on the relationship between research on guns and gun policy, see Light Over Heat #15.)

I recorded this reflection in my hotel room right after the workshop ended and so my thoughts were a bit jumbled but hopefully my editing brings some coherence to them.

The core of this video speaks to my general approach to engaging those whose focus vis-à-vis guns differs from my own: find a common ground. In this case, the common ground is in the desire to prevent gun violence.

And more generally, as in all things guns, my approach to this experience reflects my interest in Light Over Heat.

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Light Over Heat #15: From Gun Research to Gun Policy

Last week I attended a workshop at the University of Connecticut in Hartford for authors contributing to a special issue of The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science on gun violence prevention. Of course, my specialty is in gun culture not gun violence, so I was asked to speak about the evolution of American gun culture.

But I also listened to 13 other presentations, 12 of which did center on gun violence, by some of the top researchers studying this topic. I learned quite a bit, some of which I will be sharing on this blog as I have the opportunity to process it.

This week’s “Light Over Heat” YouTube video provides an initial reflection after the first day of the workshop. I note in particular the difference between how researchers speak among themselves about their findings and how advocates take those findings into the policy realm.

Simply put: Research is nuanced, advocacy is blunt.

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Place-Based Interventions as Root Cause Violence Mitigation

I recently Tweeted for help finding some articles for my Sociology of Guns seminar. Among those who Tweeted back was Ted Alcorn, the founding Director of Research at Everytown for Gun Safety who currently teaches a course called “Gun Violence in the United States: Evidence and Action” at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. He provided a link to his fall 2020 syllabus, which I mined for sources.

Although it is not my area of scholarly expertise, like many I am concerned about high levels of violence in the United States, especially the most lethal and injurious forms. As I have previously written on this blog, I find myself returning repeatedly to an important truth: Everyday criminal violence in the United States is concentrated in places and among people that are most affected by economic and racial inequality. As the Rocket Armory t-shirt says, “Guns don’t kill people, systemic inequality does.”

One module in Alcorn’s class takes this issue of PLACE far more seriously than I had thought to myself.

Figure from “Citywide cluster randomized trial to restore blighted vacant land and its effects on violence, crime, and fear” in PNAS (2018)
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GVPedia: Armed with Facts or Rhetoric on Defensive Gun Use?

GVPedia (“Gun Violence Prevention” media) was created by Devin Hughes after his blog project with Evan DeFilippis, “Armed with Reason,” ran its course. Both projects have sought to “arms policymakers, advocates, and the public with facts and data to create evidence-based policy to reduce gun violence.”

Unfortunately, as sometimes happens when facts and data are bootstrapped to pre-existing policy positions, rhetoric can overrun reason. This is unfortunate because it harms the credibility of the source and builds walls where we need productive conversations.

I saw this in a recent video GVPedia pushed out about defensive gun uses (DGUs). The video claims to explain “why relying on ‘good guys’ with guns to stop ‘bad guys’ with guns doesn’t make us safer. #ArmedWithFacts.”

This sub-2 minute video is actually just a teaser for 2 longer videos posted by GVPedia, but there is nothing here that gives me confidence that I should invest time and energy watching the other two. In fact, I barely made it past the first 20 seconds of the teaser.

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