A newly-released on children and guns is making lots of Monday headlines, but there are several points about the study, or at least the reporting, that should raise a few questions and plenty of eyebrows.
The study reports that “More than half (53 percent) of deaths due to guns among children were homicides,” according to CBS News. However, most of the reporting, with the possible exception of USA Today, seems to avoid the term “gangs.” In the USA Today report, one finds this: “Boys account for 82% of childhood firearm deaths and 84% of non-fatal injuries, with black boys between 13 and 17 making up the majority of homicide victims.” The USA Today report offers these details”
“Youth homicides, which dropped by 36% from 2007 to 2014, are, “mostly the result of an argument gone bad…”
“The type of argument varies by age. Homicides in older children often occur as a result of another crime and involve gangs and drugs.
“The 13-to-17-year-old age group dies by firearm at 12 times the rate of those younger than them. The same group is about 10 times more likely to die by homicide.”
According to CNN, “Among the injuries, 71% were assault, 21% were unintentional, 5% were related to law enforcement or undetermined and about 3% were from self-harm.”
Gangs and drugs; at that point, this is not merely a look at firearms tragedies but gang-related violence, among a demographic that, under existing state and federal laws, cannot legally purchase, much less carry, handguns. They can’t legally purchase any firearm, though youngsters can certainly carry rifles and shotguns while hunting in most states.
Researchers revealed that 38 percent of deaths among “children up to age 17” are suicides. By no small coincidence, gun rights advocate Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, has championed a suicide prevention effort in Washington State, for which he gets very little credit. Working with Prof. Jennifer Stuber at the University of Washington and State Rep. Tina Orwall over the past two years, Gottlieb has been instrumental in hammering together a pilot project called Safe Homes.
In virtually all of the coverage, phrases such as “Guns kill nearly 1,300 US children each year” or that “guns (are) the third leading cause of death” among children. Here, gun rights advocates may have a point that “guns don’t kill people.” They really don’t. Deliberate intentions, negligence, genuine accidents; those things are fatal. A firearm, left by itself, is little more than a paper weight.
Watch for this new study to get attention from the gun prohibition lobby as more “proof” for the necessity of increasingly restrictive gun control laws.
On the other hand, Second Amendment activists might use this opportunity to press for firearms education as part of the public school curriculum, justifying their push with a line stolen from the gun control crowd: “If it saves just one life…”