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12 Children a Day by Kevin O

12 Children a Day?
Let's Get Real
by Kevin O'Brien Contributing Member

"Twelve children a day die from gun violence" is one of the most used and misused phrases the anti-self-defense criminal-enabling community has ever bellowed. This figure screams at us from every news story about guns, every anti-gun group, and a growing number of politicians from the President on down. But is this figure true or just more propaganda in the fight against guns? The sad fact is itís trueóif you count gang members, suicides, and people shot by copsóbecause, as usual, the Devil is in the details.

The actual number is 11.5. This is derived from taking the total number of gun deaths for 1997, (the latest year that figures are available) and dividing by 365. But a closer look at the details reveals many things that are left out of the debate about children and guns. Many experts have spent a lot of time and resources trying to fit the numbers to suit their views. Some have tried to be impartial while others have used questionable methods to get results they want. To try and sort them out would take a good deal of time and space.

What I want to focus on here is the REALITY behind the misued, overused, and blatantly abused phrase "12 children a day die from gun violence". So let's take the year where the anti-self-defense, anti-gun statistics abusers have grabbed this number, and let's get real today.

A look at current trends in crime and accidents shows that crime is dropping steadily since reaching an all time high in the early 90ís. Accidental gun deaths and all unintended gun accidents are also at the lowest levels in decades. With this in mind, a closer look at age groups and the leading causes of death in those groups shows how the 12 children a day statement breaks down. There are a lot of statistics here, these are necessary in order to show how anti-gun groups manipulate the figures to come up with the 12 children a day figure.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (CDC) and the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, (NCIPC) compile data from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) and break this down into age groups. The CDC breaks this into groups for ages 1, 1-4, 5-9, 10-14, 15-24--and 10-year groups thereafter, while the NCIPC uses 0-4, 5-9, 10-14, 15-19, 20-24--in 5-year groups. (This differentiation in age grouping can cause minor differences in the numbers where the age groups overlap.)

Upon studying carefully the information provided from these sources, a few facts stand out readily for anyone who can add and count.

1) A toddler has more to fear from a backyard pool than from a gun.

In the age group 1-4 the leading cause of death is a group called "Unintentional Injury and adverse effects". This group includes motor vehicle accidents, drowning, fire, and gun deaths and accidents. (Unintentional injury and adverse effects is also the leading cause of death for all groups until age 35.) In 1997 there were 657 traffic deaths followed by 456 drowning deaths, 354 deaths by fire and burns 142 deaths by suffocation. Firearm deaths total 20 or 1% of the 2005 unintentional deaths for 1997. The Fourth leading cause of death for 1-4 year olds is homicide. Of the 375 murders in 1997, 53 or 14.1% were committed with guns. It is also interesting to note that:

2) Even with homicides, a child is 5 times more likely to die by fire than at the hands of someone with a gun.

Of course, fire extinguishers are a good thing for putting out fires just like guns serve a purpose for deterring crime.

3) A child has a greater chance of dying on the way home from daycare than from a gun.

The age group 5-9 continues the trend with Unintentional Injury leading the list. Motor vehicle accidents have risen to 808, drownings have dropped to 234, fires and burns are at 178. Gun deaths are 28 or 1.8% of the 1534 deaths for 1997. Homicides are the fourth leading cause of death for 5-9 year olds with a total of 174. Of these 77 or 44.3% were committed with firearms. Car crashes kill 8 times more children than guns. Of those crashes 62% of the deaths involve unrestrained children ages 0-14. Drunk drivers cause 39% of fatal crashes and of those involving children 60% are riding with the drunk driver.

3) A 10-14 year old still has a greater chance of dying riding to and from soccer practice than from a gun.

This group continues with Unintentional Injury deaths totaling 1837. Motor vehicle accidents are 57% of the total with 1056, followed by drowning at 215, fires and burns account for 5.4% or 99, and firearm deaths are 94 or 5.1%. Suicide now becomes a troubling fact in this age category--as the third leading cause of death at 303. Of these suicides, suffocation is the most common at 154 or 50.8%, and firearms are used in 126 suicides or 41.6%. Poison is third at 14, or 4.6%. Homicide is the fourth cause of death with a total of 283 deaths. Firearms are the most used accounting for 73.5% or 208. It is in this age group that a lot of disturbing trends start which explode in 15-19 year olds. Until now, cars and drowning have been the most deadly for children. Crime and suicide now become a greater threat as children become adolescents

Nonetheless, the fact of the matter is clear:

A child faces a greater threat from a car than from a gun.

Without homicide, suicide and legal intervention a car is almost 20 times more deadly than a gun. Even with homicide, suicide, and legal intervention deaths, a car is 4 times deadlier.

50% More children drown than die from firearms and more die in fires.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines a child as "someone between birth and puberty". Looking at a total of 606 gun-related deaths for children 14 and under could give an idea of how dangerous guns are. Take away homicides and suicides and the figure falls to 142. Compare that to 2681 motor vehicle deaths, 965 drowning deaths and 684 deaths by fire.

This gives a better idea of the real danger of guns to children. But letís not forget that even this number is too high. We all need to do everything we can to make sure those accidents and other misuses of firearms donít happen at all.

The 15-19 year old age group is troubling. For this group I am using the NCICP figures as they have figures for 15-19 year olds compared to 15-24 for the CDC. Unintentional Injury deaths rise to a total of 6603. Of this, motor vehicle accidents are 5,228 or 79%, drowning deaths are 372 or 5.6 %, firearm deaths are 164 or 2.5%. Homicide is the second leading cause of death with a staggering total of 2,618. Of this the firearms total is 2233 or 85%. Suicide is third with 1802 total deaths. Firearms account for 1135 deaths or 63%, suffocation is 527 or 29%. The 15-24 age group is the only group that has higher homicide rates than for suicides.

Within the numbers for homicide are some revealing facts. The Department of Justice's Juvenile Offenders and Victims 1999 National Report shows that 85% of all counties in the United States had no juvenile murders in 1997, 8% had one, 7% had 2 or more and 25% of all juvenile murders happened in just 5 counties. The cities in these counties in order of murders are Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia and Detroit. These cities make up only 9% of the total U.S. population. All of these cities have some of the strictest gun-control laws in the country. 50% percent of murder victims are between 15 and 17. Males make up 71%. Blacks make up 50% of victims. Other juveniles and young adults murder most juveniles. 45% are murdered by an acquaintance; family members murder 40%. Half of all arrests are people under 21. 90% of gangs use guns in their crimes.

It is clear that a large portion of gun deaths involve inner-city gangs.

Those poor, poor children.

These "poor children" are already into puberty and do not meet the definition of "child" according to the dictionary mentioned above. But set aside dictionary definitions for a moment and let's look to the harsh realities of gangs in America. If a 15 year old rapes, murders, commits armed robbery, steals, and behaves in other ways unbecoming to the human race including various assorted crimes which involve the criminal misuse of a firearm, and if he/she can be tried as an adult for said heinous crimes, where is the logic in calling such a person a "child"

Suicide is a disturbing fact among young people. The suicide rates for the ages of 15-19 has risen 11% from 1980-1997.The rate for 10-14 year olds has risen 109%. From 1980-1996, the rate for African-American youth ages 15-19 has risen 105%. Among 15-19 year olds, firearm-related suicides have accounted for 62% of the increase. Though guns tend to make a suicide attempt successful, there are many ways for a person to take their own life. And sadly few ways to stop someone who has made up their mind to do so. This is a very complicated problem that deserves more space than what is here.

Let's just end the suicide topic this way: suicides don't count in a rational debate about the criminal misuse of guns; someone committed to ending their own life will do it (a fact verified by any mental health professional worth his salt), and the fact that a gun is used in a pre-meditated suicide is irrelevant to the topic of gun control. Japan's gun laws are RESTRICTIVE, and they have more suicides than America. People who want death will have it, period.

A closer look at these numbers is needed in order to make sense of how the homicide and suicide rates impact the statement "12 children a day die by gun violence". With the 0-14 age group having 606 gun related deaths there are 1.7 children killed each day. Take away homicide and suicide, then accidents are .39 per day. Compare this number to 7.3 a day for motor vehicle accidents, and 2.8 for drowning. Add the numbers for 15-19 year olds and the number jumps to 11.5. Homicides add 6.1 per day followed by suicides at 3.1 per day. Unintentional and undetermined (61) add .6 per day, for a total of 11.5 in 1997. 15 teens a day died from motor vehicle accidents in 1998 for a total of 5606. Subtract the gang-related homicides and pre-meditated suicides and the figure doesn't begin to approach the inflated number put forth by such calculating liars as President Clinton or Sarah Brady.

Overall, the crime rate in the United States is falling.

Juvenile crime rates are falling also. Accidental gun deaths are the lowest they have been in decades. Suicide rates are also slowly falling. If the trend continues then the 11.5 figure will fall also, but that figure, as proven above, is ABUSED. In 1993, the rates for all of these areas were some of the highest on record. The CDC, to compare the United States against the rest of the industrialized world, used this same yearís record. The results are questionable now--with our falling rates--but that does not stop the gun control groups. "The U.S. has X times this and Y times this countries level of gun violence" they love to say. But while our levels are falling, those countries that have outlawed the private ownership of guns have seen their levels rapidly rise.

The loss of life however it happens is a tragedy--even in the case of the gang members shooting gang members. Each of these statistics represents a life, a family that has suffered. I know. My nephew was murdered with a gun in 1998. But to blindly rush to quick, easy solutions that have been proven NON-solutions is another tragedy. For in looking at the numbers over the years there is one other time that crime levels were as high as they were in the early 1990ís. That was in the late 20ís and early 30ís when the United States banned alcohol, and we all know how successful that was.

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