JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – New numbers show 2020 was the deadliest year for gun violence in the United States in at least two decades and 2021 is on track to top that.
While deaths from firearms are high in Jacksonville -- which has a reputation as the murder capital of Florida -- homicides numbers have declined this year from record levels last year.
This problem is directly impacting children.
A new report in USA Today found more than 5,100 kids under the age of 18 were shot in 2020. That’s roughly 1,000 more than at any point since 2014.
Those numbers also show the situation has gotten worse since the start of the pandemic.
In Jacksonville’s Dinsmore neighborhood in June, 6-year-old Danny Wayne died after he got ahold of a gun and accidentally shot himself.
The boy’s death is part of a growing trend across the United States. So far in 2021, 4,057 children and teens have been shot.
That’s already higher than every year except for 2020.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found a jump in teen suicide is a major factor for the increase. The CDC also found the number of emergency room visits for what are believed to be suicide attempts among adolescents went up over the last year.
The CDC also highlighted cases of unintentional shootings involving children which was the case in Danny Wayne’s death.
Breaking that down even further, activists with the gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety issued a report saying accidental shootings, especially when a child got ahold of an unsecured firearm, were 31-percent higher from March through December of last year during that same time frame the year before in 2019.
Overall, the Children’s Defense Fund says American children and teens are 15 times more likely to die from gunfire than children in 31 other high-income countries combined.
Gun safety advocates always stress the importance of making sure guns are safely locked up and not accessible to children.