NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The Tennessee Department of Health just released its 2023 child fatality report.

The numbers indicate an alarming increase in child firearm deaths; firearm were the leading external cause of death among Tennessee children.

“Tennessee likes to be No. 1 in a lot of thing; this is not something we want to be at the top of the list of,” said Todd Cruse, the chairman and treasurer of Voices for a Safer Tennessee, a nonprofit, nonpartisan statewide coalition dedicated to prioritizing firearm safety and advocating for common sense gun laws.

According to the report, the rate of child firearm deaths has increased by 17% since 2017.
As a state, it’s also 36.4% higher than the national average.

The data also shows 93% of the deaths were preventable. Firearm safety advocates said the legislature has an opportunity to do something about the alarming data points in the special session.

“All of these data points should hopefully start to help people engage in a discussion about what we can do to make our community safer,” said Cruse. “I think that as these information and data points become available, that policymakers need to really pay attention to what can they do to make Tennessee a safer place and to do so without affecting people’s Second Amendment. They’re not mutually exclusive and you can work on it together and come up with a pragmatic solution that works for everybody.”

You can read the full report here, which includes information on child deaths related to safe sleeping, crashes, homicides, and suicides.