- The Washington Times - Friday, December 8, 2017

A spike in gun purchases following the 2012 mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school led to an increase in accidental gun-related deaths, especially among children, in the five months after the massacre.

Three million guns were purchased between December 2012 and April 2013,  and an additional 57 deaths occurred during that same time period, 18 of them children, according to researchers Phillip Levine and Robin McKnight.

“The results provide visual evidence of a spike in accidental firearm deaths to children exactly at the time of the increase in gun sales after Sandy Hook,” the authors wrote, adding that the magnitude of this spike wasn’t observed in any other period.

The findings represent a 27 percent increase in accidental firearms deaths for such a time period overall, and a 64 percent increase in gun deaths related to children. The researchers focused only on accidental deaths, not suicides and homicides.

Their study was published Friday in the journal Science.

On Dec. 14, 2012, 20 children and six adults were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. The scale of destruction — the child victims were between 6 and 7 years old — launched a national conversation on gun control and gun rights.

The researchers wrote that the increased call for gun control legislation contributed to the large increase in “gun exposure,” Americans buying new guns and handling their guns.

The increase in gun-related deaths is most closely associated with more guns being present in a home, routine handling of a firearm, improper storage and when people are playing with or demonstrating how to use guns, the authors wrote.

“Taken as a whole, our analysis provides evidence indicating that the spike in gun exposure that followed the Sandy Hook school shooting increased the incidence of accidental firearm deaths, particularly among children,” the authors wrote. “Our findings support the recommendations of the American College of Preventive Medicine, which include safe gun-storage laws and physician counseling of their patients about approaches that can help reduce deaths associated with the accidental discharge of a firearm.”

Over 33,000 peopled died from firearm-related injuries in 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and that number is rising, with the latest CDC report finding that death rates per 100,000 people rose over a one-year period, from 11.4 in 2015 to 12 the following year.

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