The Terrible Toll

Over the years that I have been involved in the gun violence issue, there is one thing that has bothered me more than anything else. Every day, I am barraged with stories of the deadly cost of our national fascination with guns. The ones that tear at my heart the worst are those involving children. These stories come in every horrible form imaginable: children who accidentally kill themselves with guns they find in their homes, depressed fathers who shoot and kill their loved ones, and even children who murder their own parents with firearms.

The toll of children and teens lost to gunfire has been well chronicled by the Children €™s Defense Fund-one child or teen every three hours, eight every day, 58 children and teens every week; with more than five times that number suffering non-fatal firearm injuries. No other industrialized democracy in the world experiences anything like it; we are unique in putting our youth at such risk.

Fortunately, I have recently seen some hopeful signs that our elected officials are ready to do more to ensure the safety of children.

First there was the Obama Administration €™s public declaration that they support making guns in this county childproof. For more information about these initiatives, visit the Million Mom March website.

Then there was the news that the District of Columbia will be including a Child Access Prevention statute in its newly revised gun laws. This provision will impose criminal liability on adults who negligently leave firearms accessible to children or otherwise allow children access to firearms.

Finally, after a series of shootings involving families with young children, the state legislature of Maryland is considering two bills which would give judges more authority to remove firearms when a victim seeks a protective order against a spouse.

Hopefully these measures will serve as an example to other states. No action, legislative or otherwise, is too ambitious when it comes to protecting our kids.

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