DENVER, April 28 (UPI) -- The annual death rate of children treated in Colorado hospitals for gunshots has held steady at about 2 percent a year for more than a decade, researchers say.
Lead author Dr. Angela Sauaia of the Colorado School of Public Health and the University of Colorado School of Medicine said at least 14 children ages 4-17 were injured by firearms every year in the Denver area alone.
However, this number didn't include those found dead at the scene and it didn't include those who did not go to the emergency department.
Sauaia and colleagues at Denver Health and Children's Hospital Colorado examined trauma admissions at two emergency rooms in Denver and Aurora, Colo., over nine years and found that 129 of 6,920 injured children suffered gunshot wounds.
"In 14 percent of these cases children managed to get access to unlocked, loaded guns," Sauaia said in a statement.
Colorado firearm death rates for children were 2.2 per 100,000 in the year 2000, 1.9 per 100,000 in 2009 and 2.8 per 100,000 in 2011, Sauaia said.
"People tend to only pay attention to gun safety issues after these mass killings but this is happening all the time to our children and it's totally preventable," Sauaia said.
The findings were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.