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In Gun Politics: Kids Are Collateral Damage

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More than a million Americans have died from guns and you could fill Fenway Park three times over with the 110,645 children and teens killed by guns in the US since 1979!

Every year an average of 30,000 Americans are killed with guns and 70,000 more are injured in the US. Over the past 30 years more Americans have died from guns than all US service men and women killed in all foreign wars combined. The latest data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that 3,042 children and teens died from gunfire in the US in 2007 -- one every three hours, eight every day, 58 every week, enough to fill 122 school classrooms of 25 students each. During the same period 17,523 children and teens suffered largely preventable non-fatal gun injuries.

In 2007 more preschoolers were killed by firearms (85) than law enforcement officers (57) shot and killed in the line of duty and the total number of children and teens killed by gunfire in the US was nearly equal to the number of US combat deaths in Iraq and four times the number of American combat deaths in Afghanistan to date.

More children and teens die from guns in the US than their counterparts in all 26 industrialized nations combined. The US, with it's policies allowing virtually unrestricted access to guns, has become the gun violence capital of the world and our kids are the collateral damage.

According a 2010 Children Defense Fund, report entitled, Protect Children Not Guns, rural White and urban Black children and teens are equally likely to die from firearm injuries. In 2007 young black people in urban areas (1,499) were primarily homicide victims while rural children and teens (1,460) were more likely to die from suicide or accidental shootings. Further according to the CDC, states with higher rates of gun ownership and weak gun safety regulations have the highest rates of firearm deaths of people of all ages and race. Conversely Massachusetts and other states with more strict gun safety regulations have much lower gun deaths and injuries.

With over 280 million guns in civilian hands in the US, including easily concealable ever more powerful handguns and military style weapons with high capacity ammunition clips, children and teens, never mind, the general public and public officials, aren't safe from gun violence at school, at home, at the shopping mall or anywhere else in America.

Just in the past two and a half weeks since the latest mass shooting in Tucson, AZ, another 1,566 Americans (80 every day including 8 children and teens) have died and more than twice as many have been injured from firearms in the US. While Congress continues to blame everything except themselves for allowing virtually unrestricted gun access, more kids, criminals, the mentally ill and even people on suspected terrorist watch lists are able to legally buy firearms and high capacity ammunition clips from "private gun sellers" without criminal background checks or even proof of ID in 33 states and at thousands of annual gun shows.

A recent poll from the 550 member Mayor's Against Illegal Guns, co-chaired by Boston Mayor Menino and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, reports that 86% of all Americans and 81% of gun owners support criminal background checks for all gun sales.

It's long overdue that Congress find it's backbone and put public safety and the welfare of our children over campaign "blood money" and political intimidation by the National Rifle Association.

The following are 5 simple and effective national solutions that would prevent the majority of gun violence;

  • criminal background check for all gun sales
  • gun safety training and safe storage
  • renewing the ban on assault weapons and high capacity ammunition clips
  • national consumer product safety standards for guns
  • supporting versus restricting law enforcements ability to regulate gun sales

The combination would dramatically reduce gun injuries and deaths in the US without any negative impact whatsoever on law abiding gun owners.