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20 U.S. Kids Hospitalized Each Day for Gun Injuries

Nearly a third of these shootings are accidental, study finds

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These figures highlight the importance of firearms safety, said Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association.

"We've heard figures like that before," Benjamin said of the 20-victim daily average. "It's a lot more common than people think, even though that's a pretty robust number," he added.

"People have firearms at home for a variety of reasons. Some people think they are safer with them, but the evidence shows that's not the case," Benjamin said. "Far too often, there was a firearm under a mattress or a parent who put a firearm up high in the closet, way in the back -- but that's exactly where a child will look."

The authors of the study say parents should follow the American Academy of Pediatrics' recommendations regarding firearms.

"The AAP recommends that the safest home for a family is a home without guns," said co-author Dr. Robert Sege, a pediatrician and director of the division of family and child advocacy at Boston Medical Center. "If there is a gun in the home, the gun should be stored unloaded and locked, and the ammunition should be stored separately."

Benjamin said society as a whole should place renewed emphasis on making guns safer.

"We've made cars much, much safer without outlawing cars," he said. "A comprehensive strategy which makes firearms safer and people safer with their firearms would dramatically reduce firearm deaths and injuries."

The new study was published online Jan. 27 and in the February print issue of Pediatrics.

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