US children being killed by guns rose dramatically by 50% over the last few years as the country grappled with the pandemic and the defund the police movement — a grim increase that was felt hardest among black youth in cities controlled by Democrats.
Only a small fraction of the soaring gun violence involved school shootings, and black children were five times more likely than their white counterparts to die at the hands of a shooter, according to a new Pew Research Center report covering shootings between 2019 and 2021.
Overall, fatal gun violence rose across the country and among all age groups during the pandemic, with a 23% increase in shooting deaths among Americans recorded during the three years.
There were 48,830 gun deaths specifically recorded in 2021 — the most in a single year since 1999, when the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention first began keeping such stats, the report said.
Although children under 18 made up a small fraction of the overall rise in gun fatalities for the three-year period, their age group suffered the largest rate of increase.
Boys accounted for 83% of the firearm fatalities in 2021, and 46% of the total young victims were black, even though black children constituted of only 14% of the US minor population at the time, the study said.
Sixty percent of the young lives lost in 2021 involved homicides, and 32% were suicides, with the remaining deaths falling under the categories of accidents or “other,” researchers said.
But the causes of death were starkly different among racial lines: The vast majority of gun deaths among black teens and children, or 84%, were caused by homicides, while most gun deaths among white children, 66%, were ruled suicides, researchers found.
The gun-death rate among Hispanic youth was the same as among white children
Meanwhile, school shootings accounted for less than 2% of the total related death toll in 2021, when 49 people were killed in 202 gun incidents at US schools, according to Everytown Research & Policy, an independent gun safety organization.
In New York City, 21 kids were fatally shot in 2021, a significant increase from 11 young victims reported in 2020 and five the year before that, according to the NYPD.