More children killed by firearms than military or police
Over the past two decades, there have been nearly four times as many gun deaths among American children than among police and military officers combined.
After a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas, President Joe Biden delivered a June 2 speech calling for more restrictions on gun ownership.
In it, Biden made a statement about victims of gun violence.
“Over the past two decades, more…children have died from firearms than serving police and active duty military combined,” he said. “Think about it: more children than on-duty cops killed by guns, more children than soldiers killed by guns.”
Since 2000, have there been more shooting deaths among American children than police and military in the line of duty?
Yes, since 2000 there have been more gun deaths among American children than gun deaths combined among police and military in the line of duty.
WHAT WE FOUND
The CDC tracks fatal injuries, including those caused by gun violence, and provides demographic information about victims, including age. Data dates back to 1999 and is current to 2020.
For the two-decade period from 2000 to 2020, the CDC reports that 31,780 people under the age of 18 were killed by firearms. These figures include homicides, suicides and accidents. The majority – 18,503 – are homicides.
Brady, a nonprofit focused on fighting gun violence, says the CDC numbers are likely undercounted. Based on hospital data, Brady estimates that 1,839 children and teens die each year from gun violence — slightly more than the CDC’s totals.
The Ministry of Defense regularly updates its count of its employees, military and civilians, killed in the line of duty. Over the past two decades, 7,075 soldiers have been killed in various US military operations.
Brown University’s Watson Institute reports a similar number, “7,057 military personnel killed in post-9/11 war operations.”
Neither metric breaks down deaths by cause, so we don’t know how many soldiers were specifically killed by firearms. However, even assuming that all deaths were gun-related, the number is still significantly lower than the approximately 32,000 children killed by guns during the same period.
The National Law Enforcement Memorial reports that 4,218 law enforcement officers died between 2000 and 2021. It does not break down by cause of death.
The Officer Down memorial page does. It reports 4,598 deaths in total between 2000 and June 3, 2022. Of these, 1,249 were due to gunshots or inadvertent gunshots.
The FBI also publishes annual reports of law enforcement officers killed or assaulted. According to this data, 1,163 officers were killed by firearms between 2000 and 2021, most of them criminally, with some being killed accidentally.
Taking the highest estimates for soldiers and police killed by firearms, a total of 8,323 have died since 2000. In comparison, the lowest estimate for children killed by firearms is 31,780 – a number that does not include deaths from 2021 or 2022.
President Biden’s statement is therefore accurate. More children have been killed by firearms in the past two decades than active police and soldiers combined. In fact, the number is almost four times higher.