Mother Jones’ analysis of deaths related to guns reported in the media shows that at least 194 children under the age of 12 have been killed in accidents or homicides since the Newtown shooting a year ago. The findings collected by the nonprofit news site show that the average age of these victims was 6, and as many as 60 died at the hands of their own parents, while 72 were killed by other children. And, unsurprisingly, the majority (127) were fatally wounded in their own homes. Mark Follman, a senior editor at Mother Jones, discusses the implications of the findings:
Our investigation drew on hundreds of local and national news reports. In some cases specific details remain unclear—often these tragedies are just a blip on the media’s radar. As with previous reports in our ongoing investigation of gun violence, Mother Jones has published all the data we collected in downloadable spreadsheet form….
As I reported in May, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that over the last decade an average of about 200 children ages 12 and under died from guns every year. But those numbers don’t capture the full scope of the problem, due to inconsistencies in how states report shootings, and because the gun lobby long ago helped kill off federal funding for gun violence research. Our media-based analysis of child gun deaths also understates the problem, as numerous such killings likely never appear in the news. New research by two Boston surgeons drawing on pediatric records suggests that the real toll is higher: They’ve found about 500 deaths of children and teens per year, and an additional 7,500 hospitalizations from gunshot wounds….
No other affluent society has this problem to such an extreme. According to a recent study by the Children’s Defense Fund, the gun death rate for children and teens in the US is four times greater than in Canada, the country with the next highest rate, and 65 times greater than in Germany and Britain….
Often when kids are killed in gun accidents, public outrage focuses on the parents. But legal repercussions are another matter: While charges may be pending in some of the 84 accidental cases, we found only 9 in which a parent or adult guardian has been held criminally liable. And in 72 cases in which a child or teen pulled the trigger, only four adults have been convicted. According to the nonpartisan Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, which tracks state regulations closely, only 14 states and the District of Columbia have strong laws imposing criminal liability for negligent storage of guns with respect to children. (Florida, Texas, and California are among the 14.)
The question that Follman asks with this investigation, and the question we should all ask ourselves is: With all this blood cruelly shed in cities and towns in as many as 43 states, how can the National Rifle Association and many legislators keep saying Americans need more guns? More important, how can our nation sleep at night knowing that we are not only always on the verge of another massacre like Newtown, but that slowly but surely child deaths continue to rack up one by one while nearly nothing is done.