Like many of you, I spent this past weekend searching for understanding and healing – trying to process the tragic events that took the lives of 20 young souls and 8 adults in Newtown, Connecticut. Understanding may never come, but here are some thoughts on healing.
As a young pediatrician, I know I don’t know everything about child health. But this, I know for sure. Guns kill kids.
While the recent events may seem horrifically random, it turns out homicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for our young people aged 15-24. And if you are African American in that age group, it is the number one cause of death. Sadly, in 2010, an average of 13 kids a day (age 10-24), were victims of homicide. And among those victims, 82.8% were killed with a firearm. Guns.
What happened in Connecticut is heart breaking, but less than 1% of youth homicides occur at school.
The truth is, our kids are dying in our neighborhoods. And they are dying from guns.
Not just guns wielded by the mentally unstable or personally careless, but guns in our homes and guns in our communities. National data has consistently shown that regardless of storage practice, type of gun, or number of firearms in the home, having a gun in the home is associated with an increased risk of firearm homicide and firearm suicide in the home. The bottom line is, guns are unsafe, no matter who bought them or where they are kept. And that’s not even getting into the discussion of semi-automatic weapons (which I don’t think any of us need data to realize, are never safe on our streets).
What happened in Connecticut is what’s happening across our country every day. We must connect the dots. Too many children are dying from senseless gun violence and it is a public health crisis.
We need a national healing and it starts with the collective love of our children and a united refusal to allow any more youth to meet this tragic end. As we mourn the loss of each precious life, we must talk prevention. I join many of you in echoing to our President, congress, state, and local officials, we need comprehensive gun control laws and an expansion of mental health services for those in need.
Contact your officials here.
References: See the links, image credit