A new study has revealed that about 500 American teenagers and children die in hospitals every year from wounds inflicted by gunshots. In addition, 7,500 are hospitalized as a a result of gunfire — a rate that jumped by more than 80% in a period of 12 years.
According to NBC:
Eight of every 10 firearm wounds were inflicted by handguns, according to hospital records reviewed by the doctors. They say the national conversation about guns should shift toward the danger posed by smaller weapons, not the recent fights over limiting the availability of military-style, semi-automatic rifles.
“Handguns account for the majority of childhood gunshot wounds and this number appears to be increasing over the last decade,” said Dr. Arin L. Madenci, a surgical resident at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital and one of the study’s two authors. “Furthermore, states with higher percentages of household firearm ownership also tended to have higher proportions of childhood gunshot wounds, especially those occurring in the home.”
Among homes with children, rates of gun possession ranged from 10 percent in New Jersey, for instance, to 62 percent in Montana, the researchers found.
Madenci, and his colleague, Dr. Christopher Weldon, a surgeon at Boston Children’s Hospital, tallied the new statistics by culling a national database of 36 million pediatric hospitalizations from 1997 to 2009, the most recent year for which figures are available.
During that period, hospitalizations of kids and teens aged 20 and younger from gunshot wounds jumped from 4,270 to 7,730. Firearm deaths of children logged by hospitals rose from 317 in 1997 to 503 in 2009, records showed.
Statistics show that not only are too many of America’s children dying and being harmed from firearms, but the problem is becoming substantially worse.
Imagine any other product that delivered this much death, injury and tragedy to America’s children and how legislators would react. Still conservative groups and Tea Party politicians resist making even minimal changes, including expanding background checks. Any measure to improve gun safety has been meet with the usual Second Amendment extremism and extremist misinterpretations of the Constitution.
In addition, right wing paranoia about a government conspiracy to confiscate firearms has complicated the debate. The simple fact is that no one in government is plotting to take away guns from citizens. It’s distractions like these that are talking away focus from the real issue: our children must be protected.
Congress and the states have to legislate ways to make guns legal but handled like the deadly tools they are.
Watch a segment from Lawrence O’Donnell on how guns are marketed to children in the video below: