By Freddie Allen
NNPA Washington Correspondent
WASHINGTON—Gun violence is the leading cause of death among black children and teens, according to a new report by the Children’s Defense Fund, a nonprofit, child advocacy group.
The report titled, “Protect Children, Not Guns 2013,” painted grim picture of the national gun violence epidemic that is the second-leading cause of death among all children ages one through 19. Only car accidents claim the lives of more children and teenagers than guns.
According to the report, white children were nearly three times more likely to be killed in a car accident than by a gun. In stark contrast, “black children and teens were twice as likely to be killed by a gun than to be killed in a car accident.” Examining the most recent data available, the CDF study reported that 18,270 children and teens were killed or injured by guns in 2010.
“Children and teens in America are 17 times more likely to die from gun violence than their peers in other high-income countries,” stated the CDF report.
Despite the claims of pro-gun advocates, having a gun in the home does not make kids safer. In some cases, those homes are even more dangerous, because guns are present.
“A gun in the home makes the likelihood of homicide three times higher, suicide three to five times higher, and accidental death four times higher,” stated the report.
The CDF report continued: “More than half of youth who committed suicide with a gun obtained the gun from their home, usually a parent’s gun.”
In the past 50 years, white children and teenagers accounted for 53 percent of the gun deaths, and black children and teenagers accounted for 36 percent.
Yet, looking at the gun deaths in 2010 alone, 45 percent of gun deaths and 46 percent of gun injuries were among black children and teens, according to the report, even though they account for only 15 percent of all children and teens living in the U.S. Nearly 2,700 children died from gun violence that year.
The CDF report also challenged the perceived power of the National Rifle Association, a group founded in 1871 that promotes gun ownership, marksmanship and self-defense training in the U.S. According to the report, the NRA represents a small segment of all gun owners, which may show why the National Rifle Association’s hard-line stance on gun control policies often contradicts that of most gun owners.
The report said that the NRA claims nearly five million members, but somewhere between 52 million and 68 million adults living in the U.S. own the roughly 310 million guns in circulation. That means that the NRA represents less than 10 percent of all adult gun owners in the U.S.
In the wake of last December 14 school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. that claimed the lives of 20 first-graders and six school staff, even a majority of NRA members (74 percent) were in favor of expanded background checks, at time when NRA leadership fiercely opposed any bills that would do so.
The report offered a number of solutions to address the gun violence that children and teens face growing up in America, including universal background checks that cover sales on the Internet and at gun shows, limits on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, boycotting products that glamorize violence and “supporting non-violent conflict resolution in our homes, schools, congregations and communities.”
Writing in the report, Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF), implored parents, families and friends mentors community stakeholders to pressure Congress to support common sense gun safety and gun violence prevention measures for the nation, including consumer safety standards for all guns, public funding for gun violence prevention research, and resources and authority for law enforcement agencies to properly enforce gun laws.
“Parents, remove guns from your home and be vigilant about where your children play. Boycott products that glamorize violence,” wrote Edelman.
Edelman continued: “The overwhelming majority of Americans agree we can and must do better. Polls show the vast majority of Americans, gun owners and non-gun owners, Republicans and Democrats support universal background checks as a first step to making America safer for our children and for all of us. Together we can—and must—do better right now. So many child lives depend on it.”
This article originally appeared in the Aug. 14 print edition.