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

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Detroit children at risk of dying from stray bullets

This sad story appeared in the Detroit Free Press. From the article:
On Monday, someone stood outside a home on the city's west side and blasted away with an assault rifle, riddling the house with nearly 40 bullets and killing 9-month-old Delric Waymon Miller IV. The case is under investigation.
In late January, a 12-year-old girl was killed the same way, with bullets piercing her home because of a dispute over a cell phone. Two people have been charged.
Police say the problem is with conflict resolution. "They're very quick to grab a gun," Inspector Charles Wilson said. "They're doing it indiscriminately."
When there is easy access to a gun, a conflict is more likely to end in death. In these cases, the young children were totally innocent getting shot by stray bullets flying around in the neighborhood. Nine month old babies should not be shot with stray bullets. And more:
In one case earlier this month, a 9-year-old boy found a loaded gun in his yard and accidentally shot a 15-year-old boy on the city's east side. The boy suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
By summertime, Wilson said, Detroit police hope to launch Operation Ceasefire, an initiative started years ago in Boston. He said the focus will be face-to-face meetings with young offenders -- both violent and nonviolent -- to talk about alternatives to crime and provide resources that could help prevent them from committing crimes. The target group will be ages 15-21, mostly males, Wilson said.
And then this stunning fact from the article:
Accidents were the biggest killer of white and Hispanic teens in that age group; homicide was the leading cause of death among black teens that age, according to statistics provided by the state Department of Community Health. There were 101 total homicides in that age range in 2009. Of those, 87 were African American, 11 were white and three were Hispanic, Zehnder-Merrell said.
Children shouldn't grow up hearing gunshots, Wilson said. "You don't want that to be an acceptable norm," he said.
Helping teens to solve conflicts in a better way is certainly something that needs to be done. But what about making sure guns are not so easily accessible to children and teens?

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

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