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Crosses adorn a makeshift memorial for the shooting victims at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on May 26, 2022.

Crosses adorn a makeshift memorial for the shooting victims at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on May 26, 2022.  (Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images)

'We Continue to Fail to Protect Our Youngest': Guns Leading Cause of Death in Kids

"These massacres are preventable," said Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley.

Andrea Germanos

Following the latest school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, Democratic lawmakers are highlighting recent data showing firearms are now the leading cause of death among U.S. children as evidence of the fatal consequences of Republican opposition to gun control legislation.

"This is a choice," Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) tweeted Wednesday. "Every vote against gun reform is a choice."

"These massacres," she added, "are preventable."

Pressley's pointed remarks followed an analysis of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data published in the New England Journal of Medicine that found that from 2019 to 2020, firearm-related deaths among one- to 19-year-olds jumped by 29%—"more than twice as high as the relative increase in the general population."

Motor vehicle crashes were long the top cause of death for kids, but guns took over the top spot beginning in 2020.

More than 4,300 children and adolescents died as a result of guns in 2020; car crashes that year killed roughly 3,900 in that age group.

According to Jason Goldstick, an associate professor of emergency medicine at the University of Michigan who analyzed the data, "The increasing rates of firearm mortality are a longer-term trend and demonstrate that we continue to fail to protect our youngest population from a preventable cause of death."

For Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), the figures should be a call to action.

"When car crashes were the leading cause of death for children, we changed the laws. We made cars and driving safer," she said. "Now it's time to do the same and end easy access to guns."

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.) tied the child fatality resesarch to a demand the Senate take up, as the House already did, universal background checks for gun purchases.

In a tweet Thursday, Coleman singled out Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida for what she suggested was misplaced outrage over recognition of the Uvalde massacre at a Miami Heat game on Wednesday, when the announcer called for a moment of silence and urged spectators to contact their state's senators "to leave a message demanding their support for common-sense gun laws."

"Marco Rubio doesn't like to talk about common-sense gun control despite the support of 90% of Americans," she said.

"But," she continued, "he has no problem with gunfire being the leading cause of death for U.S. children."

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