BOSTON, May 19 (UPI) -- Seventy-eight percent of teens and children age 15 and under who die in gun accidents are shot by a friend or brother, U.S. researchers said.
For the study, David Hemenway of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston and colleagues Catherine Barber and Matthew Miller used data from 17 states participating in the National Violent Death Reporting System of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 2003 to 2006.
Among the 363 unintentional firearm deaths during the study period, about half were inflicted by others. Of these shooting deaths, four out of five of the shooters were under age 25, and one in three were under age 15.
The overwhelming majority of deaths were by a friend, brother or acquaintance. Fewer than 2 percent were inflicted by strangers, the study said.
Fifty-nine percent of the fatal shooting took place in private homes, the study found.
"The young age of most of the shooters and victims shows what can happen when young people get their hands on a gun," Hemenway said in a statement. "Youth with guns are a danger to themselves, but even more so to their friends and family."
The findings are published online ahead of print in the July issue of the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention.