There is a growing concern for the future, proportionate to an increasing awareness of the frequency of gun-related injuries among youths. The data uncovered in recent studies conducted by the Kids’ Inpatient Database drew shocking conclusions by revealing that every year 7,000 children require hospitalization following injuries inflicted by firearms. This staggering data calls into question the true nature of any “safety” brought about by the possession of guns within the communities that also suffer from these statistics.
Daniel Webster, the Director of the John Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, regards the morbidity and mortality rates among youths associated with firearms as both a unique and abnormal problem. With the United States ranks as one of the wealthiest nations in the world, the fact that the nation’s firearm-related mortality rates are roughly ten times the amount of other high-income nations, has created an “extraordinary health burden in our youth,” says Webster.
The nation is no stranger to gun violence, especially within public schools, where American families expect their sons and daughters to be provided with a safe haven for their educational pursuits. The tragic shootings that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary claimed the lives of 26 people, with 20 of those being children. With an average of 20 hospital visits for youths involved in gun-related injuries every day, the aforementioned massacre sheds a harrowing light on just how close to home these numbers can be.
Gun reform legislation has been a pressing matter in the public eye for years. The gun control initiative proposed by Barack Obama seeks to impose certain limits in areas revolving around gun ownership that were previously either exempt or in need of a revamp. The list of congressional actions that would require input from Congress include mandatory criminal background checks for all gun sales, with the inclusion of previously-exempt private sellers, and strengthening criminal penalties against individuals who pass these criminal background checks solely to purchase firearms on behalf of another, appropriately named “straw purchasers.”
A second part of the initiative includes executive actions that the President would be able to move forward on his own. Among this list are more direct approaches to empowering law enforcement and state officials with information that will allow them to more adequately handle and even prevent incidents involving firearms. These methods range from providing analytical reports that detail information on lost and stolen guns to all law enforcement authorities and issuing a presidential memorandum requiring all federal officers to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations, to providing incentives for schools to hire more qualified resource officials and providing all related officers with training in the event of an armed attack situation.
The need to strengthen laws that will protect homes and families is made more and more apparent in the face of every gun-related disaster. A great number of the resulting hospitalizations and fatalities could easily be prevented with both more effective policies and the proper education. It is the responsibility of every current and prospective owner of a firearm to be constantly reminded of the dangers that exist when weapons are not treated with the caution warranted by the destructive power they possess.
Opinion By Darrell Purcell