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Edelman writes: "The killing of children by gun violence is not new. It has been a relentlessly unreported and under-reported plague."

Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children's Defense Fund. (photo: John F. Kennedy Library Foundation)
Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children's Defense Fund. (photo: John F. Kennedy Library Foundation)



The Massive Human and Moral Cost of Gun Violence

By Marian Wright Edelman, Reader Supported News

13 January 13

 

he heartrending massacre of 20 6- and 7-year-old children and six educators in Newtown, Conn., has galvanized public attention once again after a mass shooting. But the killing of children by gun violence is not new. It has been a relentlessly unreported and under-reported plague that has snuffed out the lives of 119,079 children and teenagers since 1979. That's an average of 3,721 child and teen deaths every year for 32 years. That's 4,763 classrooms of 25 children each. The number of children and teens killed by guns since 1979 is two and a half times greater than the number of U.S. military personnel killed in action in the Vietnam (47,434) or Korean (33,739) Wars, and over 22 times greater than American military personnel killed in the wars in Afghanistan (1,712) and in Iraq (3,518).

The United States of America has spent a $1.5 trillion on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars so far, purportedly to protect our children and citizens from enemies without, while ignoring the reality that the greatest threats to child safety and wellbeing come from enemies within.

Gun violence saturates our children's lives and relentlessly threatens them every day. It has romped through their playgrounds; invaded their birthday parties; terrorized their Head Start classrooms, child care centers, and schools; frolicked down the streets they walk to and from school; danced through their school buses; waited at the red light and bus stop; lurked behind trees; run them down on the corner; shot them through their bedroom windows, on their front porches, and in their neighborhoods. Gun violence has taught, entertained, and tantalized them incessantly across television, movie, and video game screens and the Internet. It has snatched away their parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, sisters, friends, and teachers; sapped their energy and will to learn; and made them forget about tomorrow. It has nagged and picked at their child and youthful minds and spirits and darkened their dreams, day in and day out, snuffing out the promise and joy of childhood and inflicting them with post traumatic stress disorders – often chronic. It has caused them recurring nightmares and made them afraid to go outdoors or to the movies. It has made them want to or feel they have to get a gun or join a gang to protect themselves because adults can't or won't protect them. It has made them plan their own funerals because they don't think they'll live to adulthood. It has killed them with guns every three hours and 15 minutes and injured them every 34 minutes. It terrifies them and makes them cry inside and wonder if and when enough adults are ever going to stand up and make it stop and make children safe.

President Obama, in his moving remarks at the Sandy Hook interfaith prayer vigil at Newtown High School Dec. 16, 2012, got it right when he said: "Caring for our children. It's our first job. If we don't get that right, we don't get anything right. That's how, as a society, we will be judged." And we will not pass the test of the God of the prophets or New Testament or all great faiths if we do not protect all of our sacred children against repeated and preventable gun deaths and injuries. Every child has a right to live and to dream and to strive for a future that is not destroyed in a second because we cowered before a special interest lobby and refused to protect them.

What can we do? Learn the truth about and debunk the myths that guns make us safe. Did you know that one-third of all households with children younger than 18 have a gun and 40 percent of gun-owning households with children store their guns unlocked? Contrary to what many people believe, having a gun in your home doesn't make you safer but instead endangers you and your loved ones. A gun in the home makes the likelihood of homicide three times higher, suicide three to five times higher, and accidental death four times higher. For every time a gun in the home injures or kills in self-defense, there are 11 completed and attempted gun suicides, seven criminal assaults and homicides with a gun, and four unintentional shooting deaths or injuries.

Read the Children's Defense Fund (CDF)'s new "Protect Children Not Guns: The Truth About Guns," which debunks myths that guns make you safe. Convene congregational and parent and community study groups and let the enormity of lost child and human life sweep over you and pierce your hearts and make you determined to wake up, stand up and do something! Check CDF’s website regularly for steps you can take and that others are taking. Small acts by enough of us can set off big ripples across our nation and shake up our political leaders. The important thing is to care and to act and to keep acting for as long as it takes until the NRA's lock on gun policy is broken. Stop shopping at stores that sell firearms over the counter -- making their purchase and use as routine and normal as a flashlight or toaster. Assault weapons should not be normalized and treated as a household product or glorified as American as apple pie. Turn off the violent TV shows. Stop buying the violent toys and video games and call for nonviolent conflict resolution and restorative justice training of our educators, faith leaders, children, and all of us. Let's make violence unacceptable rather than acceptable in our nation which leads the world's industrialized nations in military expenditures, in number of guns sold and in circulation (an estimated 300 million), and in child, youth, and adult civilian gun deaths.

At the height of the Vietnam War, anti-war demonstrators filled the Mall and confronted the president, Congress, and Pentagon calling for an end to that war. What is it going to take for the American people -- for you and for me -- to push the president and members of Congress and governors and state legislators to stand up to the NRA, gun manufacturers, and sellers? What is it going to take for them to place protection of children and youths and adults ahead of the protection of guns and profits and their election to office? How much is a child's life worth in today's political economy in America?

In 2013, as we prepare to celebrate Martin Luther King's birthday and the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and the dream of our gun-slain prophet of nonviolence, let us truly hear and follow rather than just celebrate him. Now is the time to free ourselves from the plague of gun violence which has taken over 1.3 million American lives since Dr. King and Robert Kennedy's assassinations in 1968. This is twice the loss of life than all American battle casualties in all the major wars we have fought since our nation began: the Revolutionary War (4,435); the War of 1812 (2,260); the Mexican War (1,733); the Civil War (214,938); the Spanish American War (385); World War I (53,402); World War II (291,557); the Korean War (33,739); the Vietnam War (47,434); the Persian Gulf War (148); the Iraq War (3,518), and the war in Afghanistan (1,712). Isn't it way past time for some hard soul searching about what we believe as Americans? Do we believe in the sanctity of life in America or don't we? We decide.

 

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+20 # RMDC 2013-01-13 07:41
Thanks. This is good. Imagine if the US had spent $1.5 trillion dollars not spreading violence all over the world but spreading peace and respect for people. I think the dollar amount is a lot higher, but that is not the point here. As MLK said way back in 1967 or 68, the US is the greatest purveyor of violence in the world. It has become 100 times worse in the space between 1968 and now. IT is time for the USG to stop using violence all over the globe to terrorize and massacre people into accepting capitalism and free markets.

The first step is for Obama to renounce violence as US foreign policy. He must then move in a systematic way to de-militarize the world.

The gun fetish that plagues the US is only a derivative of the gun fetish that grounds US imperialism. It is time to convert the Pentagon and the Department of War (as it was called up to WW II) into a Department of Peace.
 
 
0 # indian weaver 2013-01-14 06:34
Yes violence of all kinds characterizes the Obama / dubya regimes. Obama is laughable if not downright hypocritical to want gun control, with him the best example of ongoing Crimes Against Humanity, extreme violence worldwide for a fast buck, and conducting war crimes worldwide. Who is going to respect anything Obama says about domestic violence when he is the main purveyor of violence on Earth? He is the typical, usual politican: a lying coward.
 
 
-20 # hd70642 2013-01-13 08:45
I guess these idealist never really had an enemy or ever had to associate with unsavory people or thought they could they could beg their way out of a psychotic stalker. Any body who has ever been harassed or stalked certainly could not be blamed for purchasing a firearm so some person can not interfere with their personal safety and security .
I am not against limiting magazine capacity but a complete ban is complete nonsense . Yeah like the cops will always be able to magically arrive before any harm can be done and the perps will always know where your firearm is and get it before you do
.Of course the celebrities are entitled to armed security squads but please wanting everybody else to remain undefended is highly hypercritical but self perservation is a right hyperctical or not and nobody hires a do nothing Gandhi squad for personal protection !!
 
 
+1 # RMDC 2013-01-13 16:04
I don't think any of us idealists are opposed to self-defense. sometimes that is necessary. We are really talking about the aggressive use of guns and violence and the underlying belief that anyone has a right to kill their enemies, such as the US is doing against al Queda. You don't have a right to kill a stalker or someone who harasses you.

Of course, the aggressors try to make themselves appear to be on the defensive, but we all can see the truth.

If we de-legitimize and de-glorify violence in every case, instances of violence will decrease over time. Then maybe you won't need to buy a gun to protect yourself.
 
 
0 # hd70642 2013-01-13 19:52
When somebody is stalking somebody they are up to no good to begin with! As far as violence being gloried being a cause of violence well Hitler and Stalin never had any violent video games nor watched graphicly violent movies growing up .!!
Money and religion are the primary cause of most wars through out history , You are not going hard pressed to find any religion that is not tied with money and most crimes have a strong tie in with money
 
 
0 # indian weaver 2013-01-14 06:36
A complete ban of all assault weapons and associated armament was outlawed in Australia 15+ years ago after they suffered their greatest domestic massacre of 40+ people including 30+ tourists. Since outlawing all assault weapons, and buying back those in private circulation / ownership for the owner's cost + 10%, Australia has suffered not a single massacre or mass shooting. Anyone got a clue here, or is only me?
 
 
0 # dkonstruction 2013-01-14 13:54
In what sense is Edelman an idealist and not a realist? All of the statistics she cites are "real" not "ideal." No place in the article does Edelman talk about an outright ban on guns or denies that people should have the right to defend themselves (but at the same time just because one has the right to do something doesn't mean that we all must or need to exercise that right). Is it "idealistic" to say that assault weapons should not be "normalized" or "glorified" or considered just another "housefhold product?" Is it idealistic to talk about the need to confront a culture that desensitizes people to violence overall? so, again, in what sense is anything that Edleman talks about in this piece idealistic? In fact, she is dealing with reality in a way that the leaders of the NRA, for example, are not and seem incapable of doing so (as opposed to the majority of their members who seem not to be opposed to "rational" gun regulation).
 
 
-9 # hd70642 2013-01-13 09:27
Yes the Us does intervene far too often and Iraq was a snipe hunt and idealistic crusade and a treasure hunt . But thinking all problems can be resolved peacefully is just as dangerous as thinking all problem have a violent resoultion . After all when you call 911 you might need a Dirty Harry Not Gandhi under any circumstances !!!

I guess these idealist never really had an enemy or ever had to associate with unsavory people or thought they could they beg their way out of psychotic stalker. Any body who has ever been harassed or stalked certainly could not be blamed for purchasing a firearm so some person can not interfere with their personal safety and security /.
I am not against limiting magazine capacity but a complete ban is complete nonsense . Yeah like the cops will always be able to magically arrive before any harm can be done and the perps will always know where you firearm is and get it before you do .Of course the celebrities are entitled to armed security squads but please wanting every else to remain undefended is highly hypercritical and nobody hires a do nothing Gandhi squad !! Speaking of which had Japan be able to invade India his civil disobieance to the Japanese would ended in him being tortured to death!!
 
 
+1 # Susan1989 2013-01-13 09:29
We are a culture of qgressio





I fully agree with everything written here, but what do we do now, today....to protect our children from being massacred? The horse is out of the barn...millions aready own guns. Throughout our country there is a culture of aggression and mistrust...some thing that will not change just because we want it to. Guns are merely the vehicle through we as a country are expressing rage. Rape, drunk driving, abuse of gays...the elderly...peopl e wo are different...vio lent sports...bullyi ng...all an expresson of rage. It is my opinion that people feel lonely, hopeless, unloved, afraid...as our culture becomes increasingly dependent on technology to replace human contact. The family and community has broken down...people feel afraid and unprotected.
 
 
0 # tbcrawford 2013-01-13 11:57
Here's an idea: VOLUNTEER
Read to school children; plant an urban garden; support music, sports, science and other after-school projects; show up at town council meetings; write to Congress; speak up and out but also listen, participate in local projects or start your own; join a discussion group to solve community problems; pick one cause you believe in and follow through; clean up your local environment; above all, educate yourself and stop "drinking the media KoolAid".

The mind bogles at the possibilities. Just be responsible and stop hunting scapegoats.
 
 
+9 # Eliza53 2013-01-13 10:05
For the Children's Defense fund's full report from 2012 and the January 2013 4-page fact sheet, go to http://www.childrensdefense.org/child-research-data-publications/data/protect-children-not-guns-2012.html

I suggest Marian Wright Edelman meet with Joe Biden and draft new gun control legislation. She is utterly trustworthy to protect children and other innocents.
 
 
-2 # corals33 2013-01-13 12:15
Self-appointed commentators,di scussion forums,presiden ts and kings won't solve this problem.All of us have to.Period.Or else.
If we can organize a riot and a rave on the internet then we can organize to remind the big trees that a little ax awaits.
 
 
0 # reiverpacific 2013-01-13 14:48
I'll bet that the NRA big shots and bullet-pushers are all for "family Values" too!
Yet drug pushers are in chokey for long periods for fulfilling a far less lethal and threatening demand.
OK, I'm not condoning pushing drugs on kids or anybody else, just making a comparison along the lines of "Handy-dandy, who the justice, who the thief"? Or, "Treat every man according to his deserts and who shall 'scape whipping"?
 
 
-2 # hd70642 2013-01-13 15:23
No one who is sane advocates hatred or violence towards anyone or wishes ill fortune on anyone, and ideally every would love one another ,but there is the real world versus the idealized world ,and two shall never meet !!! Whether you like or not you sometimes a degree of force is needed to ensure survival . True not all problems require force to rectify problems , and of course peaceful solutions are always the preferred choice ,but if it us a choice between survival and having to use force to ensure that survival then unless you are some deluded idealist anyone will chose force as distasteful as it might seem to ensure their own survival.!!! The most ridiculous concept in all of known reality is championing idealism over realism!!
 
 
+1 # fliteshare 2013-01-13 18:23
The drama queen media have it.

Yesterday 26000 of under 5 year olds died due to a lack of clean drinking water. Today another 26000 will die and Tomorrow the same, again and again and again for the foreseeable future. (that's 500 jumbojets per day).
The logistical costs of supplying that 5 year old with water = $0.10.

Do I hear anybody in the media about that ?
How come, getting shot by an assault riffle is so much less deserving for the average 5 year old than just plain dying from contaminated water ?

Yep, lets throw ourself into a frenzy and pretend to be able to prevent psychopaths from accomplishing their thrill. While at the same time pretending we are unable to muster $2600.00 a day fighting simple thirst.

One problem we already know how to solve and what it might cost. The other guaranteed to remain a deep mystery locked inside the dark crevasses of very sick brains.

And Yes, I am of the opinion that black haired, brown eyed 5 year olds are just as cute as blond haired, blue eyed 5 year olds. But feel free to call me Liberal, Hypocrite I am NOT.
 
 
0 # hd70642 2013-01-14 02:43
Single issues folks can be rather annoying . How come, getting shot by an assault riffle is so much less deserving for the average 5 year old than just plain dying from contaminated water ?
Of cource the living standards for this country have fallen to inexcusable levels but lets ignore falling wages and the gap rich and poor because gun control is a magically wand that will make violence vanish!!!
Of cource lets get involved in corporate errands instead trying to fix problems world wide.Money and religion are the primary cause of most wars through out history , You are not going hard pressed to find any religion that is not tied with money and most crimes have a strong tie in with money
 
 
-1 # MidwestTom 2013-01-13 19:21
Only 3.5% of fatal gun shots come from rifles of any kind according to the FBI. Also, violent crime in this country per 100,000 people is less than half what it was 25 years ago again according to the FBOI statistics.
 

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