SALT LAKE CITY — A new study shows thousands of kids end up in the hospital with gun injuries each year — many of those injuries accidental.
Yale researchers found in one year that more than 7,000 kids landed in the hospital with gun injuries. The study was published Monday in the Journal Pediatrics. A gun safety expert said the problem is that far too many kids have access to guns.
Researchers at Yale University found that nationwide in 2009, more than 7,000 kids ages 19 and younger visited the hospital after getting shot. For those under 15, 75 percent of the injuries were unintentional. However, the study reported that for teens between 15 to 19, more than half of the injuries were assault related, and 90 percent of the victims were male.
Dr. Alan Fruin said when it comes to gun safety, every child is vulnerable.
"So it may not be your child," Fruin said. "You may store guns safely in your home, but your neighbor may not store theirs safely."
The Department of Health reported 52 Utah kids ages 19 and younger were hospitalized with gunshot injuries between 2009 to 2011. About half were from assaults and half were unintentional shootings.
Bullet Proof Kids, a Utah group that doesn't take a position on gun ownership but stresses safety, said the underlying problem is access to guns.
"Especially with teenagers, you may think that because your child hunts and because they've been around guns their whole life that nothing would ever happen to them," a Bullet Proof Kids representative said. "But that's just not true."
Bullet Proof Kids recommends locks and other devices to keep children away from guns. Fruin also said any measure is worth it if it keeps your child alive.
"If they have a bad day at school or something that might seem silly to you but it's a huge deal to them, and this impulsive behavior, they may be gone," Fruin said.
While the Bullet Proof Kids group realizes that there are situations that people can't control to keep their kids from getting injured with guns, Fruin said the community can teach kids to stay away from guns.