Alaska Intentional Firearm Injuries on the Rise

March 7, 2017

There has been a significant increase in the number of intentional firearm injuries in recent years, marking a shift from when accidental shootings were more common in Alaska, state officials said.

Dr. Frank Sacco, chairman of the Alaska Trauma System Review Committee, said the number of intentional firearm injuries has nearly doubled in the last three or four years. He said those injuries have become more common than accidental and self-inflicted gunshot wounds, KTUU-TV reported.

The spike in intentional firearm injuries grew faster in Anchorage than the rest of the state, Sacco said.

“If you just look at the trauma registry data where before we might in Anchorage admit to the hospital intentional gunshot wounds every month or two. Now it’s closer to about every week,” he said.

For nearly 30 years, the Alaska Trauma Registry has documented how and where residents are injured and how they are treated. The data helps medical professionals determine where resources are needed to care for patients, Sacco said.

There was a 78 percent increase in total firearm hospitalizations in Anchorage from 2013 to 2015, according to the registry. With stabbings included, penetrating injuries accounted for an average 10 percent of all hospitalizations per year.

“The causes for these traumas have to do with society, and like I said there’s a lot of guns up here and a lot of drugs unfortunately – and that is not a recipe that’s good for good outcomes,” Sacco said.

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