#22: Shooting Children

Table of Contents:

Shooting Children
Gun Violence Is Killing More Kids in America
2019—The Year Before Covid-19
The Children’s Defense Fund
Pivot—From Gun Violence On Children To Gun Violence On Everyone
Gun Violence—Faster Than A Speeding Bullet
Gun and Ammunition Sales
President Biden—Gun Control Efforts—2021

Shooting Children

In earlier reports, I’ve written about young shooters, grade and high school shootings, threat assessments, preparing for school shootings, teenage shooters, cognitive dysfunction, allowing children to own guns, and motivated shooters. These subjects necessarily but incompletely address the special issue of aiming guns and pulling triggers expressly to shoot children. Children are not little adults or teenagers, although some teenagers are little adults. A child is a young human being below the age of puberty. Puberty is a scientific process marked by physical changes through which a child’s body matures into an adult body capable of sexual reproduction. It is initiated by hormonal signals from the brain. For girls it happens between ages 10 and 14. Boys are slower—it usually arrives between ages 12 and 16. We call them kids until then.

For scientific and emotional reasons we value childhood more than almost anything does. Shooting children is the ultimate crime, the worst possible outcome, and something even gun manufactures hate. They just make and sell guns—they don’t kill children—their guns do that.

Gun Violence Is Killing More Kids in America

That was the stark headline in the Associated Press release on October 12, 2021—the subtitle, “COVID-Related Idleness, Access To Weapons Cited” was dead on point.[1] Subtitles are often misleading; but this one conveys the larger message about guns in America. But for the mere presence of a gun, most child homicides would never occur. Which is the greater culprit? The child shooter or the gun in his hand? Clearly, guns are not evil. They are innocent, necessary, and innocuous in the hands of sane, kind and nonviolent adults. When paired with a deranged shooter, the gun becomes an extension—a part of—and death’s delivery system. But innocence alone is not enough to support a country awash in guns and devoid of reasonable control over their intended use—to kill.

For gun enthusiasts the argument is right of ownership. All well and good. Why don’t more gun enthusiasts support reasonable gun control legislation? Here’s why—slippery slope arguments by gun manufacturers and their unprincipled lobbyist—the NRA.

Beyond the reasonable gun control dilemma, there are other reasons child killers are on the rise. Covid-related idleness plays a role. Gun access has a part. Mental illness is a factor. Politics make reasonable regulation unlikely. However, the main actor is the protagonist in every gun violence story about killing a kid. “Shootings involving children and teenagers have been on the rise in recent years, and 2021 is no exception. Experts say idleness caused by the COVID-19 pandemic shares the blame with easy access to guns and disputes that too often end with gunfire.”[2]

The child killed in the AP story was four years old on June 29, 2020. The angry shooter was mad at the boy’s father. He’s awaiting trial. The boy is buried in Kansas City Missouri. He aimed for the father but hit the son. “The U.S. saw 991 gun violence deaths among people 17 or younger in 2019, according to the website Gun Violence Archive, which tracks shootings from more than 7,500 law enforcement, media, government and commercial sources. That number spiked to 1,375 in 2020 and this year is on pace to be worse. Through Monday, shootings had claimed 1,179 young lives and left 3,292 youths injured. FBI data backs that up. The agency released a report on Sept. 28 showing homicides in the U.S. increased nearly 30% in 2020, and homicides among people ages 19 and younger rose more than 21%. Horror stories abound. In St. Louis, a 9-year-old died when another angry shooter opened fire on the family’s car. The shooter, himself barely 19 was arrested and charged. Two Minneapolis children were gunned down in May. They were unintended victims of bullets fired by other angry assailants. One was a six-year old shot when her mother drove her car through a gun battle. An eleven-year-old girl was killed and a 5-year-old girl was injured when someone fired into their family’s car from another vehicle.”[3]

2019—The Year Before Covid-19

“The U.S. saw 991 gun violence deaths among people 17 or younger in 2019, according to the website Gun Violence Archive, which tracks shootings from more than 7,500 law enforcement, media, government and commercial sources. That number spiked to 1,375 in 2020 and this year is on pace to be worse. Through Monday, shootings had claimed 1,179 young lives and left 3,292 youths injured. FBI data backs that up. The agency released a report showing homicides in the U.S. increased nearly 30% in 2020, and homicides among people ages 19 and younger rose more than 21%.”[4]

The Children’s Defense Fund

The Children’s Defense Fund reports, “Child and teen shooting deaths reached a 19-year high in 2017 and have remained elevated. Black children and teenagers were four times more likely than whites to be fatally shot were. The fund’s president and CEO, the Rev. Starsky Wilson, said a spike in gun sales during the pandemic has made things worse. ‘There are more guns available on the street and there are folks with less opportunity to engage in productive activity . . . A combination of those two is really challenging.”[5] The data points tell a frightening tale.[6]

Each Day in America for All Children:

  • 9 children or teens are killed with a gun.
  • 20 children or teens die from accidents.
  • 46 children or teens are injured with a gun.
  • 121 children are arrested for violent crimes.
  • 223 children are arrested for drug crimes.
  • 514 public school students are corporally punished.
  • 1,785 children are confirmed as abused or neglected.
  • 1,909 children are arrested.

Pivot—From Gun Violence On Children To Gun Violence On Everyone

“2020 was the deadliest gun violence year in decades. So far, 2021 is worse. The Washington Post reports that while national rampage is part of the story, experts fear the it will only get worse.[7] “The shootings have come at a relentless pace. Gun violence this year has cut through celebrations and funerals, places of work and houses of worship. It has taken lives at a grocery store and in a fast-food drive-through lane. And most of all, it has unfolded on city streets and in family homes, away from the cameras and far from the national spotlight. By almost every measure, 2021 has already been a terrible year for gun violence. Many fear it will get worse. Last weekend alone, more than 120 people died in shootings, according to the Gun Violence Archive, with three especially dangerous incidents in Austin, Chicago and Savannah, Ga., leaving two dead and at least 30 injured. Through the first five months of 2021, gunfire killed more than 8,100 people in the United States, about 54 lives lost per day, according to a Washington Post analysis of data from the Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit research organization. That’s 14 more deaths per day than the average toll during the same period of the previous six years. This year, the number of casualties, along with the overall number of shootings that have killed or injured at least one person, exceeds those of the first five months of 2020, which finished as the deadliest year of gun violence in at least two decades.”[8]

Gun Violence—Faster Than A Speeding Bullet

According to Gun Violence Archive, “From January 1 to September 15, a total of 14,516 people died from gun violence in the US. That’s 1,300 more than during the same period in 2020, a 9% increase. Mass shootings are also on the rise. Through September 15, there have been 498 mass shootings across the US, or an average of about 1.92 per day. That’s 15% higher than last year, when there were a total of 611, a rate of 1.67 per day, according to data from the GVA.”[9]

Gun and Ammunition Sales

In 2020, Americans bought a record number of 23 million firearms — up 65% from 2019, according to Small Arms Analytics[10], a consulting firm based in Greenville, South Carolina. The National Shooting Sports Foundation estimates that among those purchasing guns in 2020, 8.4 million were new gun owners. At the beginning of 2021, gun sales continued to spike, with 2.2 million firearms sold in January, according to SAAF. While gun purchases decreased in most of the preceding months compared to 2020 levels, the number of purchases remains higher than previous years. In August, the year-over-year sale of firearms was down 25% compared to the previous year. However, the number of sales is still far outpacing those “of any year except for 2020,” according to SAAF Chief Economist Jurgen Brauer. Whether over manufacturing disruptions due to Covid-19, the influx of new gun owners, panic purchasing, the increase of hunters or a myriad of other factors, ammunition has been scarce since 2020. Even police departments have issued warnings for ammo to be reserved.

President Biden—Gun Control Efforts—2021

“While Congressional legislation on gun control is nowhere in sight and the issue of gun violence has largely fallen out of the political zeitgeist, Biden’s executive actions continue to run through the federal rule-making process. Two significant proposals from the Biden administration’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives focus on regulating certain types of pistol braces as well as so-called ghost guns. The public comment period for the ATF’s proposed rule, changing the definition of a “firearm” to include unfinished firearms — ghost guns — ended on August 19. The ATF also proposed a rule in June that would significantly regulate pistols that use certain stabilizing braces. The comment period for the proposed rule ended on September 8. The agency is currently reviewing the comments for both proposed rules before writing the final draft of the rule.”[11]

President Biden and Vice President Harris announced “Six actions in 2021 to address the gun violence public health epidemic. The recent high-profile mass shootings in Boulder – taking the lives of 10 individuals – and Atlanta – taking the lives of eight individuals, including six Asian American women – underscored the relentlessness of this epidemic. Gun violence takes lives and leaves a lasting legacy of trauma in communities every single day in this country, even when it is not on the nightly news. In fact, cities across the country are in the midst of a historic spike in homicides, violence that disproportionately affects Black and brown Americans. The President is committed to taking action to reduce all forms of gun violence – community violence, mass shootings, domestic violence, and suicide by firearm . . . Last month; a bipartisan coalition in the House passed two bills to close loopholes in the gun background check system. Congress should close those loopholes and go further, including by closing “boyfriend” and stalking loopholes that currently allow people found by the courts to be abusers to possess firearms, banning assault weapons and high capacity magazines, repealing gun manufacturers’ immunity from liability, and investing in evidence-based community violence interventions. Congress should also pass an appropriate national “red flag” law, as well as legislation incentivizing states to pass “red flag” laws of their own.” The six actions are:

  1. Ghost Guns: The Justice Department, within 30 days, will issue a proposed rule to help stop the proliferation of “ghost guns.” Criminals are buying kits containing nearly all of the components and directions for finishing a firearm within as little as 30 minutes and using these firearms to commit crimes. The Justice Department will issue a proposed rule to help stop the proliferation of these firearms.
  2. A proposed rule dealing with devices marketed as a stabilizing brace effectively turns a pistol into a short-barreled rifle. They will be subject to the requirements of the National Firearms Act.
  3. The Justice Department will publish model “red flag” legislation for states. Red flag laws allow family members or law enforcement to petition for a court order temporarily barring people in crisis from accessing firearms if they present a danger to themselves or others.
  4. The Administration is investing in evidence-based community violence interventions. Community violence interventions are proven strategies for reducing gun violence in urban communities through tools other than incarceration.
  5. The American Jobs Plan proposes a $5 billion investment over eight years to support community violence intervention programs. A key part of community violence intervention strategies is to help connect individuals to job training and job opportunities.
  6. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is organizing a webinar and toolkit to educate states on how they can use Medicaid to reimburse certain community violence intervention programs, like Hospital-Based Violence Interventions. Five federal agencies are making changes to 26 different programs to direct vital support to community violence intervention programs as quickly as possible.[12]

[1] Jim Salter and Claudia Lauer, Associated Press, St. Louis, October 12, 2021.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] https://www.gunviolencearchive.org/

[5] https://www.childrensdefense.org/state-of-americas-children/

[6] Ibid.

[7] Rachel Woolf, Reis Thebault, Joe Fox, Andrew Ba Tran. The Washington Post. June 14, 2021. https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/06/14/2021-gun-violence/

[8] Ibid.

[9] https://www.cnn.com/2021/09/19/politics/gun-violence-spike-2021-explainer/index.html

[10] https://smallarmsanalytics.com/

[11] https://www.cnn.com/2021/09/19/politics/gun-violence-spike-2021-explainer/index.html

[12] https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/04/07/fact-sheet-biden-harris-administration-announces-initial-actions-to-address-the-gun-violence-public-health-epidemic/

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