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Texas Prom Party Shooting Shows 'Exceptional' U.S. Teen Gun Risks

Nine teens were shot at a large after-prom party near Jasper, Tex., just after midnight Sunday. Authorities have not identified the shooter or motive, but said they were questioning people of interest. None of the nine victims at the party attended by about 250 suffered life-threatening injuries, but many were transferred to nearby hospitals for treatment. It is one of several recent shootings involving children and teens. In just the past month, two teens were killed and at least another 15 were treated for gunshot wounds in a mass shooting at a 16th birthday party in Dadeville, Ala. Ralph Yarl, a Black 16-year-old, was shot in Kansas City after accidentally going to the wrong house while trying to pick up his younger brothers. Two teenage cheerleaders were shot after mistaking a car for their own in a supermarket parking lot in Austin, Tex., Vox reports. It follows the March mass shooting at Nashville's Covenant School in which three children were killed.

The Jasper school district said it would maintain a bigger law enforcement presence on campus this week “to ensure student safety,” as well as make counselors available to students. The Jasper shooting is a reminder that gun violence has become the leading cause of death among children and teens, making up 19 percent of deaths for people 18 and younger in 2021. In 2020, gun violence surpassed traffic accidents, cancer, suffocation, and poisoning as the leading cause of death among children and teens. That makes the U.S. exceptional: In no other wealthy or similarly sized country is gun violence one of the top four causes of death among children and teens, let alone the leading one, according to a 2022 analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation. That analysis also showed that the U.S. accounts for 97 percent of all child and teen firearm deaths among its peer countries. Most of those U.S. deaths are caused by assault, with 3.6 children and teens per 100,000 dying on that account in 2020. By comparison, 1.7 and 0.3 per 100,000 children and teens died from firearm suicide and unintentional or undetermined firearm-related causes, respectively.


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