New Study Shows District of Columbia’s Tough Gun Laws Work to Prevent Youth Suicide–No Child 16 Years of Age or Younger in DC Was the Victim of Firearm Suicide According to Most Recent Federal Data

For Release:
Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Study’s Findings Discredit Congressional Efforts to Repeal DC’s Gun Laws

Washington, D.C.–Children and youth in the District of Columbia are far less likely than their peers in the 50 states to be victims of firearm suicide, a new Violence Policy Center (VPC) study reveals (please follow this link for the full text of the study). The study finds that NO District youths 16 years of age or younger died as the result of firearm suicide during the years 2000 through 2002, the most recent years for which data from the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control’s WISQARS database is available. In addition, during this period there were no suicides by any other means by District youth in this age group.

The study ranks gun suicide rates among children and teens age 16 and younger for all of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The 10 states with the highest rates in the 16 and younger age group were Alaska, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, North Dakota, Nebraska, South Dakota, Utah, New Mexico, and Colorado. These states all had rates that far exceeded the national average of 0.45 per hundred thousand (see list below). Gun laws in all of these states can be characterized as extremely weak. 

Firearm Suicide Deaths and Rates Among Children and Youth 16 Years of Age and Younger, 2000 Through 2002, Ranked by Rate (Per 100,000 Population)

Rank: 1
Number of Deaths: 14
Rate per 100,000: 2.61

Rank: 2
Number of Deaths: 15
Rate per 100,000: 2.40

Rank: 3 (tie)
Number of Deaths: 15
Rate per 100,000: 1.43

Rank: 3 (tie)
Number of Deaths: 5
Rate per 100,000: 1.43

North Dakota
Rank: 5
Number of Deaths: 5
Rate per 100,000: 1.16

Rank 6
Number of Deaths: 14
Rate per 100,000: 1.12

South Dakota
Rank: 7
Number of Deaths: 6
Rate per 100,000: 1.07

Rank: 8
Number of Deaths: 21
Rate per 100,000: 1.02

New Mexico
Rank: 9
Number of Deaths: 14
Rate per 100,000: 0.98

Rank: 10
Number of Deaths: 28
Rate per 100,000: 0.88

Washington, DC
Rank: 51
Number of Deaths: 0
Rate per 100,000: 0.00

VPC Legislative Director Kristen Rand states, “This study shows that the District’s ban on handguns and assault weapons works to prevent youth suicide by keeping guns out of D.C. homes. The findings highlight the sheer lunacy of Congressional efforts to repeal D.C.’s tough laws. Congress would virtually be writing a death sentence for some young people by repealing District laws that are working to prevent youth suicide.”

Legislation to repeal the District’s gun laws is pending in both the House (H.R. 1288, sponsored by Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN)) and the Senate (S. 1082, sponsored by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX)). The home states of the bills’ sponsors also had gun suicide rates for youth 16 years of age and younger that were above the national average: 0.58 per 100,000 for Indiana and 0.53 per 100,000 for Texas. On June 30, 2005, the U.S. House approved an amendment to D.C.’s 2006 appropriations bill that prevents enforcement of the District’s safe storage and child safety lock requirements for firearms.






The Violence Policy Center is a national educational organization working to stop gun death and injury. Follow the VPC on TwitterFacebook, and YouTube.

Media Contact:
Georgia Seltzer
(202) 822-8200 x104