Once again, we express our thoughts and prayers for murdered children on social media, demanding that Congress take action to prevent such heinous acts. Although most of us are demanding change, this atrocity will fade from the media and our consciousness too soon without anything substantial being accomplished, as the will of the majority will have been thwarted by the minority. (And the few who remember such past events will add “again”.)
Here are some facts about guns and the murder of our children by guns. According to a June 2021 Pew Research survey, “four in ten American adults report living in a household with a gun, including 30% who report owning one.” The 30% own nearly 400 million firearms, according to the latest Small Arms Survey. That’s about 120 firearms for every 100 people. In comparison, France had an average of 19 firearms per 100 civilians. India had five.
This same survey also estimates that there are 857 million civilian-owned firearms worldwide. This means that only 4% of the world’s population, us, owns 46% of all civilian-owned firearms on earth. Gun deaths in the United States increased by 43% between 2010 and 2020. Fifty-four percent of those deaths were suicides, while only 43% were homicides. Both categories included young children. Another Pew survey found that almost half of Americans know someone who has been shot. Consider these startling statistics.
Then think about these. In 2020, for the first time in our country’s history, gun violence has become the leading cause of death among our children and adolescents. According to the Gun Violence Center, so far in 2022, at least 653 children and adolescents have been killed by firearms, and another 1,609 children and adolescents have been injured.
For years, researchers at the University of San Francisco and the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health have compared firearm death rates in the United States and other high-income, populous countries, primarily in Europe. They found that of the 29 countries in the latest study, the United States accounted for nearly 97% of gun deaths among children 4 years of age or younger, and 92% of gun deaths among children aged 4 and under. from 5 to 14 years old.
The Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence reveals that an average of nearly 8,000 children and adolescents were shot and more than 1,600 died each year between 2015 and 2019. Of those who died, 52% were murdered, 40% died of suicide by firearm and 5% were killed. unintentionally killed. And there have been between 11 and 75 shootings resulting in casualties (injuries and deaths) in public and private elementary and secondary schools each year between 2000 and 2020.
The Buffalo and Uvalde murderers were both 18 years old and both armed with legally purchased assault weapons. How is this possible when neither of them was old enough to legally buy alcohol and tobacco? Consider that last month, a week before either event, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit overturned California’s ban on the sale of semi-automatic rifles. to anyone under the age of 21 who believes they violate the Second Amendment.
Heather Cox Richardson’s Memorial Day 2022 column focuses on the dead of World War II, but her closing lines also apply to the 19 children and two adults murdered in Uvalde, Texas: “Thinking about our untimely deaths is bad enough difficult, but I am haunted by the holes these deaths forever tear in the social fabric: the discoveries not made, the problems unsolved, the marriages not solemnized, the babies not born.
Despite all of these grim statistics, most gun owners are responsible people who only use their guns for sport, such as skeet and target competitions, or for hunting, and secure their guns on fire if young people live in or visit their homes.