Gun Violence & Children

Gay teens Asher Brown, 13, Seth Walsh, 13, and Justin Aaberg all committed suicide in 2010 in the face of alleged anti-gay bullying. (Personal Photos)


Keeping children safe is a priority for all parents. However, many parents, with good intentions, put their children in harms way by keeping a firearm in the home. It seems that no matter how many children die because of gun violence, these tragedies are just statistics, unless you are the parent of that dead child and then the pain is real and never goes away. Too often we hear from people who demand their right to have guns. Although the majority of Americans may despair about our armed society, few speak out. Where are the voices of the people and the politicians saying, “We are mad as hell and we won’t take this anymore?”

Gun owners mistakenly believe that they need a gun in the home for self-defense. Evidently the Robert’s Court also bought into that myth. Research demonstrates, in fact, that having a gun may make you less safe and endangers your loved ones. Higher rates of household gun ownership are correlated with higher rates of homicides, suicides and accidental shootings. Annually, there are only about 200 legally justified self-defense homicides by private citizens compared with over 30,000 gun deaths. (National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System, 2007). More guns in the home also mean more guns on the street. As many as a half a million guns are stolen each year landing in the hands of people who are criminals. This net increase in household gun ownership would mean more homicides and perhaps even more burglaries.

Children’s Defense Fund’s (CDF) “Protect Children, Not Guns 2010” is a compilation of the most recent and reliable national and state data on gun violence in America. Marion Wright Edelman, President of CDF asks, “Have we no shame or respect for child life?” Following is information gleaned from this report.

Violence is endemic in America. Our children are not immune. With over 280 million guns in civilian hands, the terrible truth is that there is no place to hide from gun violence. Children and teens are not safe from gun violence at school, at home, or anywhere else in America. According to the latest data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 3,042 children and teens died from gunfire in America in 2007 – one child or teen every three hours, eight every day, 58 every week. Almost six times as many children and teens – 17,523 – suffered non-fatal gun injuries and the often-lifelong emotional aftermath that follows. Gun violence, especially in poor communities, drives thousands of vulnerable young people into a pipeline to prison.

  • 2,161 were homicide victims
  • 683 committed suicide
  • 198 died in accidental or undetermined circumstances
  • 2,665 were boys
  • 377 were girls
  • 397 were under age 15
  • 154 were under age 10
  • 85 were under age 5
  • 1,499 were Black (90% were homicides)
  • 1,460 were White (over 50% were suicides)
  • 611 were Latino
  • 43 were Asian or Pacific Islander
  • 40 were American Indian or Alaska Native

More than half the firearm deaths of children and teens in 2007 were in the following ten states: California (431), Texas (250), Florida (176), Illinois (150), Pennsylvania (126), Michigan (119), Georgia (114), Louisiana (114), New York (107), and Ohio (104).

One in five high school students reports carrying a weapon; one-third of those students brought the weapon to school. One in 18 high school students reported staying home from school because they felt unsafe at school or going to and from school.

Toni Wellen is the chair of the Santa Barbara Coalition Against Gun Violence. She lives in Carpinteria.

One response to “Gun Violence & Children”

  1. Gun Violence Needs To Stop ! | ladilex123

    [...] One in five high school students reports carrying a weapon; one-third of those students brought the weapon to school. One in 18 high school students reported staying home from school because they felt unsafe at school or going to and from school. ( http://sbcoalition.org/2011/01/gun-violence-children/ ) [...]

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