First, a look at the problem. American children live in a heavily armed war zone, proven by these extremely troubling statistics:
- The number of U.S. children and teens killed with a gun greatly surpasses the number of U.S. military personnel killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. For instance, 2,793 children and teens were killed with a firearm in 2009, which equals six dead children for every one U.S. military personnel lost in the same year (466).
- The number of preschoolers killed by firearms from 2008 to 2009 (173) was nearly double the number of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty (89) in those two years, according to the Children’s Defense Fund.
- Guns take the lives of more children and young people than cancer or infection, killing twice as many children and teens than cancer and 15 times more kids than infection, according to the New England Journal of Medicine.
- 87 percent of child gun fatalities throughout 23 industrialized nations happen in the U.S.
Simply put, we have an epidemic of gun violence in America – and thousands of children are the direct casualties. The remedy that the NRA and staunch gun rights activists refuse to admit is that stricter gun laws save lives.
Here’s the proof:
- When analyzing 10 years worth of data, 60 percent more children are killed with guns in the 10 states with the weakest gun laws compared with children living in the 10 states with the strongest gun laws.
- Five of the 10 states with the weakest gun laws make the top 10 list for highest rates of child gun fatalities.
- In addition, five of the 10 states with the highest gun-ownership rates make the top 10 list for highest rates of child and teen gun deaths.
As shown in the charts below, the average annual child gun death rate in states with the strongest gun laws is considerably lower than child gun fatality rate in states with the weakest gun laws.
|States with the Strongest Gun Laws||Average yearly gun death rate per 100,000 children, 2000-2010||States with the Weakest Gun Laws||Average yearly gun death rate per 100,000 children, 2000-2010|
|Average annual gun death rate per 100,000 children in states with strongest gun laws||2.6||Average annual gun death rate per 100,000 children in states with weakest gun laws||4.1|
 The state firearms law analysis is drawn from a 2010 report by the Legal Community Against Gun Violence entitled “Gun Laws Matter: A Comparison of State Firearms Laws and Statistics.”  The data on state-by-state child gun fatalities is drawn from a 2013 report by the Children’s Defense Fund entitled: “Protect Children, Not Guns: Gun Violence in the States, 2000-2010.”
Of the 10 states with the highest rate of gun fatalities among children, seven of them make the top 10 lists for weakest gun laws or highest gun ownership rates — or both. (Note that Alaska and Louisiana, known for lax gun laws, didn’t make LCPGV’s top 10 list for weak gun laws.)
|10 States with Highest Rate of Gun Deaths of Children and Teens||Average yearly gun death rate per 100,000 children, 2000-2010|
|New Mexico *||5.8|
|* State is on the top 10 list for weakest gun laws, as judged by the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.+ State is on the top 10 list for highest gun ownership, per LCPGV.|
In an ideal world, guns would never harm anyone except “bad guy” attackers. But that’s not the reality. How long before the majority of policymakers accept the hard reality this data shows us? How many more children will die before we revamp U.S. gun ownership laws?
Add your thoughts below.
About the author: Stacie Borrello is an experienced blogger, freelance writer and content producer with a passion for politics and social justice. When she’s not knee-deep in current events, she enjoys providing custom web content to clients via her freelance writing business Capitalize on Content.