Last week I received the weekly email from Marian Wright Edelman who is the Founder and Executive Director of the Children’s Defense Fund. I subscribe to it, because she has been a leader in the struggle for justice and equality since her days in the Civil Rights Movement. Please take a few minutes to watch the video at the end of this post to get a sense for the depth of her commitment to peace and justice for children. Her latest email included some shocking information about the level of gun related violence and death impacting our nation’s children, especially our black and brown children. Here is some of what she shared. I highlighted the statistics that were especially shocking to me:
CDF’s new Protect Children, Not Guns report analyzes the latest fatal and nonfatal gun injury data for children ages 0-19 from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It continues to reveal a shameful crisis worsening in a nation that refuses to protect children and teens from the scourge of gun violence:
3,410 children and teens were killed by guns in 2017—the greatest number since 1998.
21,611 children and teens were killed or injured by a gun in 2017—one every 24 minutes.
Gun violence was the second leading cause of death among children and teens of all races 1-19 years old and the leading cause among Black children and teens.
Gun violence killed more children and teens than cancer, pneumonia, influenza, asthma, HIV/AIDS and opioids combined.
Homicide is the leading cause of gun death among children and teens.
Black, Hispanic, American Indian and Alaska Native children and teens are disproportionately likely to be killed or injured with guns.
Guns killed more than twice as many preschoolers as law enforcement officers in the line of duty in 2017: 93 children under 5 were killed compared with 42 law enforcement officers in the line of duty.
Children were not safe from guns in every state between 2008 and 2017. Deaths ranged from 18 in Hawaii to 2,977 in California.
The deadliest states were Alaska and Louisiana with about 8 gun deaths per 100,000 children and teens annually—more than twice the national rate.
Since 1963, four times more children and teens were killed with guns on American soil than U.S. soldiers killed in action in wars abroad.
U.S. children and teens are 15 times more likely to die from gunfire than those in 31 other high-income countries combined.
How would we act as a nation if we took seriously the fact that our children are being killed by guns at rates higher than those who serve in law enforcement and the military? For those of us who follow the Prince of Peace, reducing violence of any kind including gun violence should be a priority. Why can’t our nation follow the example of Australia and New Zealand where episodes of mass shootings resulted in swift and meaningful gun control? Remember the words of Jesus who said, “By their fruits you will know them.” Rhetoric about “thoughts and prayers” for the victims of gun violence is meaningless without the “fruit” of actions that can help reduce that violence. I am grateful to Marian Wright Edelman for sharing this shocking and disturbing information. Once we know this, we cannot “unknown” it. Now the question for us and the nation is, What will we do about it?