In a report
released this month, the Children’s Defense Fund has analyzed recent national
data on gunfire deaths and produced some alarming figures on child casualties.
also criticizes a wave of new state gun-rights laws that the Washington D.C.-based
advocacy group argues put children in ever more peril.
nonprofit advocacy group dedicated its report,“Protect Kids, Not Guns 2012,”to Florida teen Trayvon Martin, who was shot dead
in February by a neighborhood watch volunteer.
Zimmerman, 28, disregarded police advice and followed the unarmed Martin, 17,
because Zimmerman thought the boy looked “suspicious.” Zimmerman killed Martin,
who was walking to his father’s girlfriend’s home, during a confrontation and
claims he acted in self-defense.
Children’s Defense Fund report, which was released March 23, is based
largely on U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data from 2008 and
2009. The group’s analysis found that 2,947 children and teens died from
gunfire in 2008 and 2,793 died in 2009.
the report’s charts show, child gunfire deaths rose from the early 1980s
to a peak of 3,625 in the homicide category alone in 1993. Gun deaths of
children overall began falling until 2004, when homicides and suicides again
began to fluctuate.
acknowledges that its analysis found that the total number of children and
teens injured by gunfire fell in 2009 to 13,791 from a high over the last
decade of 20,596 in 2008.
Among the report’s other findings:
The total number of preschool-age children killed by guns during those years ( 173 ) was nearly double the number of law-enforcement officers ( 89 ) killed in the line of duty.
African-American children and teens represented 45 percent of all guns deaths in their age group in 2008 and 2009, but only 15 percent of the total U.S. population of children.
The top cause of death for black teens ages 15 to 19 was gun homicide, while for white teens it was motor vehicle accidents followed by gun homicides.
More children and teens died from gunfire in 2008 and 2009 — 5,750 — than the number of U.S. military personnel killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Among 23 high-income countries in the world scholars have studied, the United States is home to 80 percent of all gun deaths, and 87 percent of all gun deaths of children younger than 15.
Wright Edelman, Children’s Defense Fund president, writes in the report: “We
must remove guns from our homes where children so often find them and put
themselves and others in harm’s way. We must teach our children nonviolent ways
to resolve conflicts and we must reject pervasive violence in our culture — on
TV programs, songs, in movies, and on the internet.”
also blames the excessive number of deaths on the “gun lobby,” Congress and
state legislators who have loosened gun-control regulations or declined to
impose more manufacturing safety standards and limits on firearms.
states have adopted preemption laws to ensure that state legislatures have
control of gun policy, impeding the ability of cities to develop local
solutions to gun violence in their communities,” Edelman also writes. This
suggests, she says, “that they know best although states continue to make
decisions detrimental to children.”
Martin’s shooting in February has prompted national scrutiny of a 2005 state
law in Florida called “Stand Your Ground,” which allows people who feel
threatened in public settings, not just in homes, to use deadly force in
self-defense. Similar laws have been adopted in more than 20 other states.
Authors of Florida law say it should not be applied to Zimmerman, who is
claiming he acted in self-defense and has not been arrested.
Children’s Defense Fund report notes that in Kansas, Mississippi and Utah,
state laws enacted in 2011 now allow people to carry loaded, licensed,
concealed weapons either inside or onto the grounds of elementary and secondary
The BradyCenter to Prevent Gun Violence, the AmericanAcademy of Pediatrics and other medical
groups filed suit to overturn the law, contending it violates free-speech
rights doctors need to do their jobs responsibly. Last September, a
federal judge issued an injunction blocking enforcement of the law.
“docs and Glocks,” the law was the first of its kind, according to the
National Rifle Association, which helped draft it. It was inspired, supporters
say, by a Florida couple who refused to answer a pediatrician’s questions
about guns, and were upset when they were told they should find another doctor.
Hammer, the National Rifle Association's lobbyist in Florida, toldNational Public Radio, “We take our children to
pediatricians for medical care — not moral judgment, not privacy
The NRA is
a staunch proponent of legislation to ensure rights to carry licensed guns,
which the group maintains help individual safety. The group also sponsors
courses on safe gun use for adults and children. In response to the controversy
over the Florida doctors’ law, NRA representatives said they didn’t object
to doctors handing out information about gun safety if it were part of broader
information on other safety matters, such as swimming pool hazards.
Kids, Not Guns” includes a list of mass shootings of children since 2008, some
during rampages by adults or teens or family members.
At the top
of the list is the Feb. 27, 2012, Chardon, Ohio, school shooting that claimed the lives
of three students and injured two when another student, T.J. Lane, opened fire in the school cafeteria and
in a hallway. Lane, 17, may have used afamily member’s licensed gun, which was missing
from a barn where it was stored, according to press reports.
Protect Children, Not Guns 2012 is a compilation of the most recent and
reliable national and state data on gun violence in America. This report provides the latest
statistics on firearm deaths by race, age and manner; highlights state gun
violence trends and efforts to prevent child access to guns; dispels common
myths about guns; and explains the significance of recent U.S. Supreme Court
decisions on gun ownership.
2,947 children and teens died from guns in the United States and 2,793 died in
2009 for a total of 5,740—one child or teen every three hours, eight every day,
55 every week for two years. Six times as many children and
teens—34,387—suffered nonfatal gun injuries as gun deaths in 2008 and 2009.
This is equal to one child or teen every 31 minutes, 47 every day, and 331
children and teens every week.