It is still spring and yet the indications are already here that we will have a long and deadly summer. Youth homicides are already beginning to reach epidemic proportions in many cities across the country as the economy slumps further and temperatures turn upward. Mayors in places like Chicago and Washington, D.C. are calling for emergency actions to reduce teen gun violence.
A decade ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a study that pointed out U.S. children ages 14 and younger are 12 times more likely to die by gunfire than children in 25 other industrialized nations combined. Young Americans are more likely to die from gunfire than from all natural causes combined.
Why is this? Some would argue that there are cultural differences-that Americans gorge themselves on violent videogames and movies. I have traveled around many countries of the world and I know that youth the world over watch the same violent movies and play the same violent video and computer games. While there is no doubt that there are many factors involved in American gun violence, the single largest factor is the easy availability of guns. This is where the similarities between other nations and the U.S. disappear.
Within our own country there is a similar disparity. A Harvard University study demonstrated that children in the U.S. are more likely to be killed with guns in states where there is a high level of gun ownership as opposed to states with low levels of gun ownership. Dr. Matthew Miller, lead author of the study, said In States with more guns, more children are dying. They are dying in suicides, in homicides, and in gun accidents.This finding is completely contrary to the notion that guns are protecting us. The differences in violent death rates to children are large, and are closely tied to levels of gun ownership. The differences can not be explained by poverty, education or urbanization.
So as we enter the long and violent summer, we can look forward to our big city mayors calling for more action to restrict the easy access that children, criminals and other prohibited purchasers have to guns. Their pleas will be met with silence by our elected officials and candidates for political office. And most likely the tears of parents of dead teenagers will, once again, fail to be seen or heard by our government.
We are the only ones that can change this bleak prognosis and move our nation toward a more rational gun policy. Are you willing to get involved for the sake of our children?