In the first month of Kid Shootings, we have reported on 169 separate shootings and reports of gun crimes which involve children age 17 or under, from 37 states and D.C. The reports span the full range of types of shootings: homicides, attempted homicides, accidents, kidnappings, stray bullets, defensive shootings, law enforcement shootings, and one suicide. Most kids were victims. Some were shooters. Some just found the family gun and handled it without supervision. But there was one thing that nearly all of them had in common: children were in possession of or in the proximity of firearms, with tragic consequences. So many shootings could have been prevented if only the adults owners had unloaded and locked their firearms, or simply removed them from the home.
Caveat: The articles of gun crimes and shootings that we post mostly come from Google Alerts and keyword searches for very recent online news articles, and we have posted every single one that we could find, whatever the circumstances of it. But they don't represent every shooting out there. Some child-involved shootings and gun crimes simply don't get reported in the media, particularly suicides (which are, of course, very personal), accidental discharges which don't actually injure anyone, or incidents in small, rural areas. And not all that are reported online are filtered to us in a Google Alert. Every time we do a "deep dive" and investigate more thoroughly, other stories pop up, and we hear stories from local law enforcement officers, crime scene cleanup professionals, and school officials which never make it to the news.
Everyone can see the statistics, but the huge numbers fail to register in our minds. Just over 3,000 kids are killed by gunfire, according to one estimate, and 17,500 are injured. That's almost as many kids killed in just one year as the total number of American soldiers killed in combat in the entire Iraq war, and more than all allied forces (U.S. and allies) casualties in the entire war in Afghanistan. This is the real cost of our "freedom" to own guns and the lax gun regulation in America. But the huge numbers fail to register in our minds. We've grown numb to them, as a nation. This blog looks beyond the numbers to the individual cases.
When you read the individual stories, see the pictures of the kids, understand the circumstances, the problem of guns in our society becomes more clear. The rhetoric of the pro-gun lobby takes on a hollow sound. More concealed guns on the streets wouldn't have stopped most of these, if any. Opposing Child Access Prevention laws seems barbaric. And the idea of having more guns in more hands is a glaringly deadly proposal.
So what percentage of all shootings are reported by Kid Shootings? Let's look at one statistic: deaths by gunfire. One estimate is that just over 3000 kids are shot dead each year. That's 267 a month. Around 60 of those are suicides (based on the CDC report for 2006-2007), which aren't typically reported in the media. Here at Kid Shootings, we reported on 51 deaths of children by firearms. That's about 19% of all fatal shootings of kids (or about 25% of non-suicide shootings). So one assumption is that we are finding and publishing reports on around 19% of cases out there. I'm already shocked by the number we publish, but the full scale of the problem hits home when you realize that we are just scraping the surface.
Here are the statistics for our posts for January, 2012
Total number of gun crimes and shootings posted on: 169
Total number of children who were victims: 175 (see below; doesn't count intentional shooters)
Total children killed: 51
Total children injured: 100
Total non-injured (shot at but missed, kidnapped at gunpoint, etc): 24
Shooters: 40 (20 of which seemed intentional)
Types of shootings:
Attempted Homicide: 50
23 involved children "playing with" or handling unsecured guns
3 were from gun owners "cleaning a gun" when the gun discharged
2 were hunting accidents
Stray Bullets: 21 (5 were apparently from New Year's celebratory gunfire)
On School Grounds: 8
Clearly Gang-Related: 8
Law Enforcement: 3
Pellet / BB Gun-Related: 4 (3 of which on school grounds, 2 were fatal)
Toy Gun-Related: 1
These numbers, as troubling as they are, are the real cost of our lax gun regulations, and children pay the price for it.
What are YOU going to do to reduce kid shootings?