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Marian Wright Edelman writes: "As a nation, we must aspire and act to become the world leader in protecting children against guns rather than leading the world in child victims of guns. Every child's life is sacred and it is long past time that we protect it."

The Trayvon Martin shooting raises questions about America's priorities when it comes to gun control. (photo: AP)
The Trayvon Martin shooting raises questions about America's priorities when it comes to gun control. (photo: AP)



It's Past Time to Protect Children Not Guns

By Marian Wright Edelman, Reader Supported News

24 March 12

 

housands of people across the country have poured into the streets - from New York to Sanford, Florida - to demand justice for Trayvon Martin. Hundreds of thousands more stepped up to protest online. In response to the public outcry, the Sanford chief of police has temporarily stepped down and the state prosecutor has stepped aside. But nearly one month after 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was stopped, stalked, shot and killed while walking home from a convenience store, armed only with a bag of Skittles and a can of iced tea, his killer, George Zimmerman, has not been arrested. Today, the Children's Defense Fund released its new report, Protect Children, Not Guns 2012, dedicated to the memory of Trayvon Martin and the thousands of children and teenagers killed by guns in America, including the 5,740 children killed in 2008 and 2009 according to the latest data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Where is the outrage over every single one of the thousands of children and teens killed by guns - too many by gun slinging Americans unrestrained by common sense gun control laws. Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law, also known as the "shoot first, ask questions later" law, is now under national scrutiny. But will it and others be changed to protect children rather than gun owners and sellers?

April 16 marks the fifth anniversary of the Virginia Tech massacre where 32 students and faculty were killed by a gun, 25 others were injured, and many more were traumatized. Each year since then has seen gun victims - young children, teenagers, young adults, a member of Congress, a federal judge and many more. Days, weeks, months and years go by and little or nothing - except fleeting headlines, tears, trauma and talk - is done to protect children instead of guns.

  • The 5,740 children and teens killed by guns in 2008 and 2009:
    • Would fill more than 229 public school classrooms of 25 students each;
    • Was greater than the number of U.S. military personnel killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan (5,013).
  • The number of preschoolers killed by guns in 2008 (88) and 2009 (85) was nearly double the number of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty in 2008 (41) and 2009 (48).
  • Black children and teens accounted for 45 percent of all child and teen gun deaths in 2008 and 2009 but were only 15 percent of the total child population.
  • The leading cause of death among black teens ages 15 to 19 in 2008 and 2009 was gun homicide. For white teens 15 to 19 it was motor vehicle accidents followed by gun homicide (2008) and gun suicide (2009).
  • Of the 116,385 children and teens killed by a gun since 1979 when gun data was first collected by age, 44,038 were black - nearly 13 times more than the number of recorded lynchings of black people of all ages in the 86 years from 1882 to 1968. But more white than black children and teens have died from gun violence which threatens all in America everywhere.

By any standards of human and moral decency, children in America are under assault, and by international standards, America remains the unchallenged world leader in children and teen gun deaths.

Analysis of the most recent data from 23 high-income countries reported that 87 percent of all firearm deaths of children under 15 were in the United States. The rate of U.S. gun homicides for teens and young adults 15 to 24 was 42.7 times higher than the overall gun homicide rate for that same age group in the other countries.

Why are common-sense gun regulations so shockingly absent in our country? Even in the wake of the Tucson tragedy and the near-fatal shooting of one of their own, Congress failed to act. Calls for banning high-volume ammunition clips and tightening up the federal background check system were ignored. Our leaders once again capitulated to the powerful gun lobby over the rights of children and citizens to life and safety. In November 2011, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act. If a similar bill is passed by the Senate and becomes law, a person with a permit to carry a concealed handgun in one state - a person like George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida - could carry that concealed weapon in another state even if it was against the second state's law. Proponents of such dangerous laws maintain the fiction that guns promote personal safety. It is long past time to acknowledge gun violence as a hugely serious threat to children, teens, and overall public health and safety.

Our leaders in Washington, D.C. are not alone in refusing to make America safer. Forty-two states have adopted preemption laws to ensure state legislatures control of gun policy, impeding the ability of cities to develop local solutions to gun violence in their own communities. In 2011, Kansas, Mississippi and Utah enacted laws allowing concealed weapon permit holders to carry loaded, concealed firearms in or on the grounds of elementary and secondary schools. With all eyes on Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law, few noticed a law passed last year that, if upheld, threatens loss of a medical license for doctors who ask patients about whether a gun is in the home although it is not at all unusual or inappropriate for pediatricians particularly to ask patients and parents of patients about possible safety hazards in the home including guns.

We have so much work to do to build safe communities for our children. We need leaders at all levels of government who will protect children over guns. We need a relentless, powerful citizens' voice to break the gun lobby's veto on common sense gun policy. Our laws must control who can obtain firearms and close the gun show loophole, require consumer safety standards and childproof safety features for all guns, and strengthen child access prevention laws that ensure guns in the home are stored safely and securely. And all must take action and ask political candidates this fall what steps they will take to protect children from guns. We must remove guns from our homes where children so often find them and put themselves and others in harm's way and combat cultural glorification of guns and violence. As a nation, we must aspire and act to become the world leader in protecting children against guns rather than leading the world in child victims of guns. Every child's life is sacred and it is long past time that we protect it.

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-10 # jlohman 2012-03-24 10:28
Tough decision. Concealed carry in some cases will deter crooks and save lives. In other cases cost lives. Time will tell, but we shouldn't let it distort our good senses.
 
 
-16 # switch 2012-03-24 11:44
The only 'reasonable gun control' the anti-self-defen se crowd will accept is total confiscation.

Of those 5,740 children killed, how many were killed by the 11th+ bullet? What effect would banning normal magazines have on that? How many were killed by the mythical 'assault rifle'?

Clearly, guns save more lives than they take. All you have to do is look at the research.

The Brady bunch argued that allowing concealed handgun would create a blood bath. Now they try to claim there is no evidence that they lowered crime.

Actually, I and most gun owners would quickly agree to pretty much any restriction you want - proved we agree that they will be the last restriction proposed. If it doesn't help, tough. Don't come back and try to say if we required drug testing, limited magazines to 2 rounds, etc. it would save lives.

You would never agree to that would you? It's obvious that any 'reasonable regulation' you propose is simply an interim step along a path to come confiscation/elimination.

You can dance in the blood of these children all you want but the facts are concealed handguns (and licensing) has been a tremendous success and saved lives.
 
 
-3 # XXMD48 2012-03-25 21:58
You can dance in the blood of these children all you want but the facts are concealed handguns (and licensing) has been a tremendous success and saved lives.

Yes, for the NRA, guns manufacturers and blood thirsty individuals.

Without gun in hand a person can not shoot and kill.

The expression "You can dance in the blood of these children all you want.." is totally appalling yet not surprising.

Parents of all children killed by guns in the US at schools, at homes and on the streets, playgrounds etc should bring a class action law suit against the NRA and shoud be supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
 
 
+4 # joestecher 2012-03-24 11:47
Except for single-shot rifles used for hunting purposes only (and undeer very strict training and license-renewal regulations), all guns should be banned, Completely banned. If criminals don't have guns, no one else needs a gun, concealed or open. And harsh penalties for anyone caught with a gun without a hunting-license d gun. Period. End of Story. This is supposed to be a CIVILIZED SOCIETY.
 
 
-6 # Argonaut84 2012-03-24 12:06
Quoting joestecher:
Except for single-shot rifles used for hunting purposes only (and undeer very strict training and license-renewal regulations), all guns should be banned, Completely banned. If criminals don't have guns, no one else needs a gun, concealed or open. And harsh penalties for anyone caught with a gun without a hunting-licensed gun. Period. End of Story. This is supposed to be a CIVILIZED SOCIETY.


If the US government even tried to ban all guns, they'd guarantee that we would have extreme right wing Republican governments from now until eternity. How would you like that?
 
 
+5 # Glen 2012-03-26 13:34
Joe, a major issue in this debate is ALWAYS ignored: the psychosis in the American society, and the promotion of violence at large. That has nothing to do with guns or what might be termed "civilized". Decent, mature people of all ages own guns. Those who are demented, even slightly, own guns.

Get rid of every single gun in this country, and those who wish to kill or maim, will find a way. They always do. Always have. Check out the number of stabbings in Great Britain. I'll bet every person posting here can name an object that can kill or maim other than guns.

It is the society that is deteriorating. How can that be fixed? It can't.
 
 
+11 # dick 2012-03-24 11:58
ONE thing at a time. I think it's foolish to even appear to challenge the right of self defense. THAT is inalienable. However, we should aggressively prosecute & imprison police officers who are accessories to murders. They undermine JUSTICE & encourage more murders. Sanford cops literally INVITE psychopathic killers to come to Florida & blast away at unarmed strangers. It's nuts to say,"I couldn't arrest the deadly assault victim, Zimmerman, because he left no witness alive to contradict his preposterous story." Zimmerman was bigger, older, ARMED, had law enforcement & civilian watch training, & KNEW officers were in route. He KNEW his life was not in danger. It is beyond bearable for murderous cops to say that if you can claim you feared a Skittle attack, if you murder any & all witnesses, if you cooperate with the police cover-up, you can murder at will in our community. You do not just suspend-w/pay (tokenism) or temporarily disemploy accessories to murder. They will immediately be re-employed in Texas. Those Sanford police officers who enable homicide MUST go to prison. Or none of us should do any business with or in Florida until they do. Tell resorts, cruise lines, airlines, etc. It is the least we can do. The vast, vast, vast majority of honest & brave law enforcement officers should join in this effort. After all, they are sworn to UPHOLD the law. Gun & self defense enthusiasts should also. Law & order.
 
 
+10 # chrisconnolly 2012-03-24 11:59
How does it make good sense to allow concealed guns on elementary and secondary school yards? How does this make anybody safer, least of all children? And where is the AMA on an issue that again gags doctors' ability to address a health issue reasonably? I guess the numbers are once again falling victim to the 'no amount of fact will deter my faith in gun's ability to solve all problems' mentality. And how does this eye for an eye christianity fit with thou shalt not kill?
 
 
-10 # Prime 2012-03-24 12:22
Strange how those no-gun laws aren't keeping gun violence of the schools, isn't it?

Strange how my grandfather and his classmates could keep shotguns and ammo in their lockers without shooting each other, hm?
 
 
-16 # A Critic 2012-03-24 12:16
"By any standards of human and moral decency, children in America are under assault,"

Really? What about the 99.99+% kids who are never shot, shot at, or otherwise harmed or endangered by guns?

"Why are common-sense gun regulations so shockingly absent in our country? "

People have woken up to the nightmarish reality of totalitarianism .

"Calls for banning high-volume ammunition clips"

The bill that was introduced would have potentially made felons out of 1/2 the country. We have the world's largest prison population, multiplying it by fifty times isn't even possible.

"few noticed a law passed last year that, if upheld, threatens loss of a medical license for doctors who ask patients about whether a gun is in the home"

Few noticed? I distinctly remember a huge national uproar about it.

"We need a relentless, powerful citizens' voice to break the gun lobby's veto on common sense gun policy."

I am the gun lobby, and NO. You lose, we win, go cry in your glass of blood.
 
 
-14 # Prime 2012-03-24 12:18
My guns help me protect my children. Some of you may be martial arts experts who can fight off multiple attackers at one time, but I cannot.

From 2008-2009, for children aged 3-5: There were 66 firearm homicides, 34 accidental firearm deaths, 37 killed by falling, 77 killed by suffocation, 242 killed by fire, 344 died by drowning, and 548 killed in car crashes. Your pre-schooler is many times more likely to die in your swimming pool or your car than they are because of guns.
 
 
-14 # A Critic 2012-03-24 12:19
Quoting joestecher:
Except for single-shot rifles used for hunting purposes only (and undeer very strict training and license-renewal regulations), all guns should be banned, Completely banned. If criminals don't have guns, no one else needs a gun, concealed or open. And harsh penalties for anyone caught with a gun without a hunting-licensed gun. Period. End of Story. This is supposed to be a CIVILIZED SOCIETY.


Debating the morality and legality of that is obviously futile as we have different views. Perhaps though you could explain practically how you would actually accomplish disarming the largest and best armed group of people in the world? I won't cooperate. Heck, I'll actively resist along with tens of millions of other Americans, many of whom are the cops and military who would in theory be the ones enforcing your totalitarian regime. So how is that going to work for you when your minions are outnumbered and outgunned?
 
 
-1 # papabob 2012-03-24 15:26
Please make an apple vs. apple comparison between how many times a gun has been used to defend a citizen, child or adult, and how many were killed by the indiscriminant use of the gun - like in Florida. In other words, let's see the facts: are we safer with a gun, or safer without it?
 
 
-2 # Prime 2012-03-24 17:49
The most conservative estimates are that firearms are used in self-defense more than 10x as often as they are used for homicide. Look up "defensive gun uses."
Want to see something else interesting? Compare the rate of burglaries in the US and UK that occur when the resident is present.
 
 
+2 # Texas Aggie 2012-03-24 21:22
While it is true that conservatives estimate that firearms are used in self-defense more than 10X as often as they are used for homicide, like other estimates that conservatives make, it has no basis in reality. Since they live in a fantasy rather than reality, in their world, it makes sense. In this one, not at all.
 
 
+1 # Prime 2012-03-25 13:31
Quoting Texas Aggie:
While it is true that conservatives estimate that firearms are used in self-defense more than 10X as often as they are used for homicide


The phrase is "conservative estimates" not "conservatives estimate." One estimate to which I am referring was done as part of the National Crime Victimization Survey, performed by the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Please look it up and reply back here if you've found a flaw in their methodology that causes them to overestimate the number of annual DGUs.
 
 
+5 # Rainphase 2012-03-24 15:42
The goal of the NRA and the Republicans is to create an unsafe paranoid society where everyone feels they must arm themselves and shoot the other guy before they shoot you. That way, the gun industry supporting the NRA makes greater profits and the fearful atmosphere is perfect for Republican politics - keep the 99% divided against one another. This is how civilizations crumble.
 
 
0 # Prime 2012-03-25 13:33
Let me get this straight... We need more gun control because of all the violent crime. But if one owns a gun for protection from violent crime, that's just being paranoid.

Gotcha.
 
 
+2 # ABen 2012-03-24 15:52
It would appear that this thread mirrors the passionate irrationality of the public debate. Carrying handguns for self-defense and deterrence of gun-related violence sounds good and has a "rugged individualistic " flavor, but how does that work in reality? There were three people (two highly trained) who were carrying guns in the immediate vicinity of Gabriel Giffords when Gerald Loftnor opened fire. None were able to safely use their weapons because of high potential of hitting innocent bystanders. On the other hand, if some drug-addled crazy break into my house intent upon mayhem, they will come face-to-face with my Smith and Wesson. The Second amendment guarantees our right to keep and bear arms, but it is our responsibility as a society to be vigilant about what we do with those guns and how we sanction their use. I retired from teaching in the state of Arizona in part because a state legislature in the pocket of the NRA began pushing legislation that would make it legal to bring guns onto school campus. When students are in my classroom, they are under my care and supervision, and NO ONE is going to bring a firearm into my classroom! Anyone who thinks that guns in classrooms is a good or workable idea needs to hit the reset button on their reality!
 
 
+1 # Prime 2012-03-25 13:47
Quoting ABen:
There were three people (two highly trained) who were carrying guns in the immediate vicinity of Gabriel Giffords when Gerald Loftnor opened fire. None were able to safely use their weapons because of high potential of hitting innocent bystanders.


True. Guns aren't magical talismans that ward off evil. It's difficult to stop a madman bent on hurting others, whether that madman has a gun, bomb, homemade flame-thrower, or a car. But most criminals, even the violent ones, are not madmen. They're fairly rational, they do a risk/benefit analysis of the crime they're about to commit. They don't want to get caught or killed.

Quoting ABen:
and NO ONE is going to bring a firearm into my classroom!


Without invasive searches of everyone entering the building, there's no way to be sure of that. Of course, such searches do nothing to protect people immediately outside the school doors.
 
 
+4 # amye 2012-03-24 15:54
Nothing less than shocking!! I'm embarrassed once again to be an American living in America!! When are we going learn after all these years about guns! The rest of the world knows about gun control! Why don't we know about it??
 
 
+1 # Prime 2012-03-25 14:05
Rest of the world? As in what? Mexico? Russia? Jamaica? How are restrictive gun laws working out for those countries?
And let's not overlook the fact that gun laws across the US are not uniform. How are restrictive gun laws working out for D.C., NYC, and Chicago?
 
 
+6 # Texas Aggie 2012-03-24 21:28
The problem with this article is that it assumes that children should be protected AFTER they are born. By now the author should realize that here in Amurka, we only protect "life" prior to birth, not after. If you don't believe me, ask the US Council of Catholic Bishops or any of the numerous right wing christianist groups whose sole focus is abortion. They'll tell you.
 
 
0 # prov6yahoo 2012-03-27 11:16
If everyone carried a gun our world would be much safer, and it could be proven by before and after statistics, but the anti-gunners have too much control over what is reported.
 

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