Every year, nearly 3000 children and teens die from gunfire, and nearly 14,000 are injured.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Article: We need a law to keep guns away from kids

HERE is an op-ed from Heidi Yewman, a board member of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, as published in The News Tribune, advocating the passage of a Child Access Prevention law for Washington state:

Since Feb. 22, three children under the age of 10 have died or been seriously injured in Washington state because adults did not lock up their guns. If 2012 is a normal year, there will be at least five more kids shot by Dec. 31.
We see these shootings as unfortunate accidents; we think that nothing can be done.
Twenty years ago a lot of people died in unfortunate accidents as the result of drunken drivers; we thought nothing could be done. But then we did something about it. We passed laws, and drinking and driving became socially unacceptable. Now a lot fewer people die every year from drunken drivers.
We can also do something about kids dying from bullets passing through their little bodies: We can pass laws that hold adults responsible for failing to properly store their firearms. A majority of states have laws designed to prevent children from accessing firearms. In those states, unintentional firearms deaths have fallen by 23 percent among children under age 15.
Laws are designed to encourage a certain behavior for our safety. Drunken-driving laws, seat-belt laws and speed limits make us all safer. Before all these laws were enacted, people died, and we decided to do something about it. Now fewer people die because they’re drunk, speeding or not wearing seat belts.
There are roughly 280 million guns in the U.S., nine guns for every 10 people. This problem is not going away. For context, there are 245 million registered cars, trucks and motorcycles in America – all regulated – because we now know that it’s not “unfortunate” when children die because their parents are driving drunk or not wearing seat belts or driving too fast. It’s preventable.
So are gun deaths. Washington state leaders should, without delay, pass a child-access prevention law to hold parents accountable – but mostly to influence behavior, much as laws have done with drinking and driving, seat belts and speeding. Because there is something we can do about it.
Heidi Yewman of Vancouver, Wash., is the author of “Beyond the Bullet: Personal Stories of Gun Violence Aftermath” and is a board member of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
Thank you, Heidi, for your passionate work to keep children safe.

Every gun in the hands of a child must first pass through the hands of an adult.

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