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More American children die from gunfire, alarming police and families – Twin Cities

Kendall Munson was so worried about gun violence in her neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side that she sent her sons to live with their maternal grandparents in suburban Atlanta. But death found them anyway.

On December 9, her silly, football-loving 11-year-old son, Elyjah, and some friends were walking to a gas station for an after-school snack when one of Elyjah’s best friends , a 12-year-old boy, pulled a gun from his backpack and shot Elyjah in the head.

This is the second time in the last year this family has been disturbed by gun violence. Two weeks before Elyjah was killed, his 5-year-old cousin, Khalis Eberhart, was shot dead after his 3-year-old cousin found a gun under the sofa cushions.

“Getting guns is easy. Our children are very susceptible to one,” said Ms. Munson, who believes her son’s death was not intentional. “When you’re a naughty kid playing with what you think is a toy, this is what happens.”

The number of children and young people killed by guns has increased sharply during the coronavirus pandemic. The researchers describe this increase as a deadly consequence of rising nationwide homicide rates, untreated COVID-19 injuries and the rise of a pandemic of gun purchases that are driving more children close contact with firearms – both the victim and those using the gun.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the rate of gun deaths among children 14 and younger has increased by about 50% from late 2019 to late 2020.

And it looks like the number went up last year. More than 1,500 children and young people under the age of 18 were killed in accidental homicides and shootings last year, compared with about 1,380 in 2020, according to the Gun Violence Archive, a database. Publicly sourced tracks gun deaths in real time before official government statistics.

Toddlers are exploring guns under piles of clothes and between couch cushions. Teens are getting untrackable ghost guns made from kits online. Middle school students are carrying handguns for protection.

While children die from guns at a much lower rate than adults, the increase in children’s lives being cut short has raised alarm among police officials and families across the country. .

“We keep seeing the same thing over and over again, where two young children, including Khalis Eberhart, recently died from accidental shooting,” said Keith Meadows, police chief in South Fulton, Georgia. “When the pandemic hit, we only had a large number of people applying for gun licenses. People are buying these weapons without being properly educated.”

Police departments and cities across the country are struggling to intervene. Larger cities like Philadelphia, plagued by rising youth violence, are drawing millions into violent intervention programs, youth leadership groups and community groups. In December, Meadows held a gun safety course that was attended by 50 parents, some with their children.

A day later, a 3-year-old boy was injured after finding a gun under his bed and shooting himself in the stomach.

According to the Gun Violence Archive, the majority of the casualties were concentrated in a few dozen major cities, with Chicago, Philadelphia, Houston and Milwaukee topping the list.

But few places in the US are unscathed. In Sedalia, a city of 22,000 in central Missouri, 4-year-old Andre Walker fatally shot himself at home after finding the family’s loaded pistol. D’Shaunti Kyanni Hunter, 17, was found shot dead in a cemetery in rural Georgia.

After a gunman killed four teenagers at Oxford High School in Michigan, the local prosecutor filed a lawsuit crime of involuntary manslaughter against parents of the 15-year-old suspect. Prosecutors allege the teen’s parents bought him the pistol as a Christmas present and kept it ready for him in an unlocked bedroom drawer, even as school officials warned of the dangers. their son’s violent fantasy. The parents have pleaded not guilty.

But for the most part, adult gun owners are not charged when their weapons are involved in mass shootings that kill children and teenagers, legal experts say. And some families said they were disappointed that the shooting – which disproportionately affected black and Hispanic children and youth in poorer neighborhoods – did not appear to have raised concerns. fear more widely.

https://www.twincities.com/2022/01/09/why-more-american-children-are-dying-by-gunfire-2/ More American children die from gunfire, alarming police and families – Twin Cities

Yasmin Harisha

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