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Gun-related injuries on the rise among Colorado children

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(Colorado News Connection) Firearm-related injuries in Colorado hit a peak in 2022, with over 7,000 health care claims and at a cost of $8.4 million, according to a new analysis by the Center for Improving Value in Health Care.

Cari Frank, vice president for communications with the center, said nearly nine in ten gun-related injury claims were for adults.

But she said there were alarming spikes in the rate of these injuries among children.

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"For children and youth, the rate of firearm injury claims was the highest percent increase," said Frank. "It increased 120 percent. Which says that unfortunately kids are tending to unintentionally harm themselves as a result of firearms."

Data from the Colorado All Payer Claims Database showed that unintentional injuries were the most common type of firearm injuries across all age groups, and in both rural and metropolitan areas.

But Frank noted that those injuries rose the most among children, up by 143 percent between 2016 and 2022.

Men had significantly more gun injury claims than women, with rates four times higher for unintentional injuries, three times higher for assault, and two-and-a-half times higher for self-harm.

But Frank said women also saw increases in gun injuries.

"Even though men tend to have more firearm-related injuries," said Frank, "females have seen a spike with the percentages really increasing for the undetermined intent, and then also assault was the second highest spike for women."

Frank said she hopes policy makers, and voters, will find the data useful in measuring the impact of work currently being done to address firearm violence and deaths.

Frank said she believes continued focus on education and community-tailored prevention programs is critical.

"Through either education," said Frank, "or gun safety programs that can prevent these types of firearm injuries that are happening across the state more and more."