Increase in firearms deaths linked to gun safety?

The number of people accidentally  shot in Kansas City has doubled, the city health director reported Wednesday.

The reasons for that increase from 2002 to 2010 are not known, Rex Archer told the city council public safety committee.

“The hypothesis is there are more guns that are not being kept in safe ways,” he said.

Such shootings went from 9.7 per 100,000 residents taken to emergency rooms in 2002 to 19.5 per 100,000 in 2010.

About 260 residents are admitted with gunshot wounds each year.

After looking at other data from more than two decades of shootings, homicides and suicides, Archer reported:

Seven zip codes, including 64110 in Midtown, account for 57 percent of all city gun-related deaths. The others are 64127,64128,64130,64131, 64132 and 64134.

Each year, about 100 residents are killed by guns or use one to kill themselves, sometimes after killing others.

Seven out of 10 homicides are gun related including three out of 10 suicides.

The homicide rate per 100,000 residents declined slightly from 1990 to 2012 but the rate of homicides by gun remained largely the same.

Archer also said one thing that could affect homicide rates is childhood exposure to lead paint. A New York city study found rates declined about two decades after reductions in lead exposure. Lead poisoning causes children to do more poorly in school and to grow up more angry and aggressive, he said.

Another factor in suicides especially, he said, is depression and inadequate access to mental health services. Men succeed more in suicide attempts than women because men use guns to do it more often.

Councilman Jermaine Reed said clearly guns were a big factor: “When we talk about gun control, it has to happen.”

Councilman John Sharp said officials hope the new No Violence Alliance involving police, federal and state prosecutors, social workers and others will dramatically cut homicide rates.

“We clearly have a long way to go,” he said.

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