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Characteristic Features of Pediatric Firearm Fatalities—Comparisons Between Australia and the United States

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Gunshot deaths in children less than 17 years of age from Adelaide, SA, Australia (1969–2005) and from San Diego County, CA, United States (1988–2005) were compared. Forty-two pediatric gunshot fatalities occurred in South Australia (1.1 cases/year; M:F = 30:12). There were 6 accidents (14%), 14 suicides (33%), and 22 homicides (52%). In San Diego there were 185 cases (c.10 cases/year; M:F = 148:37). There were 6 accidents (3%), 42 suicides (23%), 130 homicides (70%), and 7 undetermined cases (4%). The incidence of homicide was significantly higher in San Diego County compared to Adelaide (p < 0.001), with a higher proportion of murder–suicides occurring in Adelaide. There were markedly more accidents and suicides involving males in Adelaide and a far higher number of male homicide victims in San Diego County compared to females. Rifles of 0.22-caliber were preferred weapons in South Australia, compared to handguns in San Diego County.

Keywords: childhood; firearm; forensic science; gunshot fatalities; homicide; pediatric; suicide

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Pathology, Rady Children’s Hospital–San Diego, 3020 Children’s Way, San Diego, CA. 2: Forensic Science SA, Adelaide, SA, Australia.

Publication date: September 1, 2009


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