Record number of juveniles killed by guns in Jefferson County

Published: Jan. 12, 2023 at 8:44 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - More children were killed by gunfire in 2022 in Jefferson County than any time in the last decade.

County records show 19 juveniles from birth to the age of seventeen were killed by a gun in 2022. Some are listed as accidental, others as a homicide.

Children’s of Alabama treats pediatric gun injury victims from across the state. They treated 73 patients with gun injuries in 2022. That’s down from 82 in 2021, a record high which was up nearly 60% from 2020.

WBRC spoke to Dr. Eric Jorge, who previously worked with Children’s of Alabama, during our initial reports in this series. He believes the concern over personal safety is one of several factors fueling this lethal trend.

“Typically if you’re buying a firearm for safety purposes, many people will leave those firearms loaded and unlocked, which is the absolute worst thing if you have kids,” Jorge explained.

Studies indicate talking to children about gun safety isn’t enough. Experts say the best way to keep kids safe is to store firearms in a safe or use a gun lock.

“A study showed that three out of four parents said that their child would not touch a gun based on prior discussions with their child,” he explained. “Then when the child was put in a research room, the large majority found the gun, looked at the gun, handled the gun and then over 50% pulled the trigger - and that was immediately after discussing safe firearm tactics.”

He also wants parents and caretakers to know the risk of having a gun in the home.

“Research shows that even if you own a gun for protection, someone in your family, particularly children are more likely to get injured from that gun than you are to use it for actual protection,” Jorge acknowledged.

You can learn more about gun locks and safe gun storage here:

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