News Release

Study: Lenient gun laws pose threat to public safety

Findings revealed at the 2023 Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting

Reports and Proceedings

Pediatric Academic Societies

Children in states with minimal firearm policies have a significantly higher death rate compared to those in states with strict gun laws, according to a new national study. The research will be presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) 2023 Meeting, held April 27-May 1 in Washington, D.C. 

The study analyzed 6,491 pediatric firearm-related deaths between 2016 and 2020 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with state rankings for firearm legislation from Giffords Law Center, a national nonprofit that tracks and analyzes firearm legislation in all 50 states. States are ranked on the strength of gun laws on a scale from least lenient to most lenient.

Researchers further explored financial implications of gun laws by analyzing the average value of statistical life—a measure of the tradeoff between death risk and money—and found that due to the increased number of deaths in states with more lenient gun laws, residents pay an increased cost to enhance their safety and reduce their risk of injury.

“The unsettling results of this study have dire implications for the health and public safety of children across the United States,” said Amber McKenna, M.D., resident physician at LSU Health Shreveport Pediatrics and presenting author. “The data is clear: more restrictive firearm laws will keep more children alive.”

These findings represent a need to explore frameworks that prioritize public safety.

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Dr. McKenna will present “Impact of State Legislation on Pediatric Firearm Injuries” on Saturday, April 29 at 12:15 p.m. ET.

Reporters interested in an interview with Dr. McKenna should contact Amber Fraley at

The PAS Meeting connects thousands of pediatricians and other health care providers worldwide. For more information about the PAS Meeting, please visit

About the Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting

The Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) Meeting is the premier North American scholarly child health meeting. The PAS Meeting connects thousands of pediatricians and other health care providers worldwide. The PAS Meeting is produced through a partnership of four pediatric organizations that are leaders in the advancement of pediatric research and child advocacy: American Pediatric Society, Society for Pediatric Research, Academic Pediatric Association and American Academy of Pediatrics. For more information, please visit Follow us on Twitter @PASMeeting and like us on Facebook PASMeeting.

Abstract: Impact of State Legislation on Pediatric Firearm Injuries

Presenting Author: Amber McKenna, M.D.


LSU Health Shreveport Pediatrics


Hospital Medicine: Systems/Population-based Research


Firearm injuries are now the leading cause of death for children and young adults. There is a wide variation in state legislation surrounding firearms.


To evaluate the impact of restrictiveness of state legislation for firearms on the mortality and the economic impact due to firearm injuries, using publicly available data.


Data was obtained from Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from 2015-2020 for children 0-18 years. Fatal firearm injuries were included and data from each state was obtained. State ranking for firearm legislation was obtained from Giffords Law Center. States were ranked 1-12, for each year, 1 being most restrictive and 12 being the least. Average medical cost and Value of Statistical Life (VSL) average for each state were also obtained from CDC WONDER database. VSL estimates the “willingness to pay for small aggregate reductions in mortality risk” and the “dollar that a large group of people would be to pay for a in their risks of dying in a year, such that we would one fewer death the group that year on average (United States Environmental Protection Agency). 


From 2016-2020 we had a total of 6491 deaths in children 0-18 years. There was a significant correlation between death rate per100,000 population and gun control law ranking for states (Spearman’s Rho correlation 0.589; p< 0.001). There was a correlation between combined costs and gun control law ranking (Spearman’s Rho correlation 0.228; p< 0.001). Also, there was a significant correlation between VSL average and gun control law ranking (Spearman’s Rho correlation 0.231; p< 0.001), which indicates that the states with lenient gun control laws, as a group pay a larger dollar amount for their population to decrease the risk of mortality due to firearm injuries.


Over a six-year period we observe states with lenient firearm legislation have high mortality and higher value of statistical life average. Appropriate gun control laws will benefit in reducing the mortality and decrease the financial burden on the state population.

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