In a report on child welfare from 2008, we learn that in 2005, 69 preschoolers were killed by firearms compared to 53 law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.
On an average day in 2011 in America, 8 children or teens are killed by firearms, according to the Children Defense Fund. (This stat is based on calculations per school day — 180 days of seven hours each.)
In the Key Data section of the CDF report, they report, “(B)etween 2004 and 2005, total firearm deaths of children and teens increased by 181, the first annual increase since 1994.” What is not mentioned in the report is the fact that 2004 is the year the assault weapons ban expired, and 1994 is the year we passed the assault weapons ban. Thus, while not proven to be causal, we have a relationship showing an increase in total firearm deaths of children after the assault weapon ban expired, for the first time since the assault weapon ban was passed.
Furthermore, in 2005, we had more preschoolers killed by firearms than law enforcement in the line of duty. “In 2005, 3,006 children and teens were killed by firearms, the equivalent of 120 public school classrooms of 25 students each. More than half of these deaths were of White children and teens… Sixty-nine preschoolers were killed by firearms compared to 53 law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty. Another 16,000 children and teens suffered non-fatal firearm injuries.”
According to the CDF report, “children in America lag behind almost all industrialized nations on key child indicators. The United States has the unwanted distinction of being the worst among industrialized nations in relative child poverty, in the gap between rich and poor, in teen birth rates, and in child gun violence, and first in the number of incarcerated persons.”
Our problem with gun violence is larger than gun laws. We have spent years with defunded mental health policies (something Obamacare addresses and will go into effect in 2014). We have great economic disparity, which studies show equates with violence. We have a gun culture. We suffer from an inability to name the problem because certain people’s outrage serves to silence the facts. But our gun laws are a part of the problem. They certainly aren’t helping, they’re not sane, they’re not reasonable, and they’re not working.
NRA/Republicans will say that it was a fluke that one year more children died at the hands of guns than law enforcement officers died in the line of duty. Perhaps. It’s tough to negate such charges when research is years behind events, but then, this also means that they can’t prove it’s a fluke.
Fluke or not, this year will no doubt be even uglier when the final tallies are taken. And it’s simply not acceptable.
Image: A “Let us Live” drawing submitted by 9-year-old Sia LimayeCourtesy Neha Pallod Limaye to President Obama