Monday, December 17, 2012

Protecting children from guns

The tragedy in Newtown Connecticut on Friday 12/14/12 was a national disaster. A disordered young 20 year old man killed his mother at home and took her semi-automatic guns to a nearby elementary school and killed 26 people, 20 of them being first graders!

We must ask how often a gun having the feature of being semi-automatic helps save the life of a child. Then we must ask how often it costs the life of a child. This Friday, if the guns used were not semi-automatic, it is very possible some of the 20 children may have lived, as well as some of the adults. The young man may not even have attempted what he did.

There was a period from 1994 to 2004 when progress in protecting children from guns in the U.S. was constant and significant.  The child death rate by guns was almost cut in half! 
Firearm Deaths of Children & Teens, 1979-2006
Right-click above image & hit open link to enlarge.
Can we ignore this pattern and say we are working to better protect our children? The chart below is another different view of similar statistics during these same general years.

To honor the memory of the children who died Friday in Newton, Connecticut we also cannot ignore the facts related in this article from Australia, and the chart below. After a massive shooting in 1996 they enacted restrictions against semi-automatic weapons and started a weapon buy-back program.  

The United States has about 32,000 gun related deaths annually, or about 10 for every 100,000 population. While car-related deaths have been more numerous in the past, that is slowly changing due to constant improvements in car safety. This changing pattern was seen by the fact that in 2009 there were already 10 states wherein the death rate by guns was higher than the death rate by cars:
Ten states with higher death rate by gun than by car
Right-click above image & open link to enlarge above chart.
Please note that while the majority of car related deaths are accidental, the large majority of gun related deaths are intentional, either suicides or homicides.

"Strength to carry on and make our country worthy of their memory."