Children's gun deaths not grounds for gun control

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For those of us who are parents, the idea of losing your child at all is beyond what we can probably comprehend. To lose them to violence, particularly while young, is even worse. Children matter to us in ways that can’t fully be explained.

And yet, for the first time, so-called gun violence accounted for more children’s deaths than cars.

From the men-focused parenting site Fatherly:

For the first time since 1999, car accidents are not the number one killer of children. Guns are now the biggest killer of kids. According to data in a letter published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the number of firearm-related deaths among children increased by 13.5% from 2019 to 2020, driven by an increase of almost 34% in the number of children murdered by guns. Gun-related suicides increased by 1.1% during this time.

Car accidents remain the second leading cause of death for children and adolescents, followed by drug overdoses and poisonings, which were grouped together in the dataset. Overdoses and poisonings increased by a staggering 83.6% from 2019 to 2020. There is speculation that the dramatic increase in firearm violence and overdoses/poisonings during this timeframe is related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

And, to be sure, that’s probably it. COVID changed a lot of behavior in a lot of ways.

However, there’s a lot missing from this piece. For example, there were also more car fatalities than in previous years, and this despite numerous weeks when just about no one was on the road. Not just for kids, either.

In other words, what happens with kids tends to be a reflection of what happens with society as a whole.

Further, this study does what far too many studies do and conflates all firearm-related fatalities with one another. However, the solution for teen suicide and the solution for gang violence aren’t necessarily one and the same.

But for the folks at Fatherly, there’s only one possible solution:

Despite his pledge to address the “epidemic” of gun violence in the U.S., President Biden has not made much headway in the murky and controversial arena of gun control since his inauguration. Recently, Biden announced his nomination of former federal prosecutor Steve Dettelbach to fill the role of Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, an agency that has been without a confirmed director since Obama-appointed B. Todd Jones stepped down as director to work with the National Football League in 2015.

However, it should be noted that many of these kids are killed by other kids. Those are people who can’t lawfully buy a gun in any state in the nation.

Further, we know from history that gun control doesn’t lead to a reduction in violent crime. Just look at what happened to the homicide numbers after the Gun Control Act of 1968 was passed for a prime example.

So gun control won’t protect our children.

What will? The answer is simple, but not easy.

We need to start recognizing that when we talk about “gun violence,” the issue isn’t the gun–the adjective in that phrase–but the violence. The constant in all violent crime is that a person is involved, so rather than focusing on the tool, we should be focusing on the tool using it.

Unfortunately, that’s not likely to happen. Focusing on people doesn’t make headlines. It doesn’t make people feel warm and tingly.

It takes hard work; work that often flies under the radar. Politicians hate that kind of thing. They want a legacy that everyone will see and recognize so their greatness will be appreciated. Actually focusing on people not being violent doesn’t do that, so it’s unlikely to happen.