A report from the Office of the Child Advocate shows that 94 children died from 2001 to 2012 due to gun violence in Connecticut with most of the fatalities being classified as homicides.
The report, which includes the 20 children murdered at Sandy Hook in December, says the highest incidence of fatalities were in boys, aged 15 -17, and that almost half of the fatalities occurred in Hartford, New Haven and Bridgeport.
In that same time frame, 924 children ages 0-17 were injured by guns. Of these 924 gun-related injuries, 88.3 percent occurred among boys, 94 percent occurred between the ages of 12-17 years, 61.6 percent of the gun-related injuries occurred to Black children, and 63 percent of the injuries occurred in Hartford, New Haven and Bridgeport.
The statistics for gun deaths and injuries, the Office of Child Advocate report, said reflect what is happening across the nation. Injuries to and deaths of children from guns are overwhelmingly among male adolescents 15 years old and older, and are disproportionately Black and Hispanic children. The report draws from child fatality data from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and child injury data from the Connecticut Hospital Association.
“Policy changes to prevent deaths and injuries of children by guns will need to address the different contexts and contributing factors,” Jamey Bell, state child advocate said. “Turning the tide won’t be easy or quick, but focused and sustained efforts of all stakeholders and systems that touch children will allow all our children to grow safely into adulthood.”
One gun proponent, though, is questioning the validity of the report and why it was necessary. Rich Burgess, president of Connecticut Carry, a gun-owners rights group, told the New Haven Register he finds it “hard to even consider the credibility of this study. I think the untimely death of anyone, especially children, is tragic. I am not sure why this study only focused on ‘gun deaths’ and ‘gun injuries’. It seems any kind of credible or reasonable study would give some kind of comparison to other types of deaths and injuries among children.”
The Office of the Child Advocate is making the following recommendations:
- Connecticut policymakers and residents should support state level and national level research to understand the root causes of gun violence and how to prevent it.
- Policymakers should strengthen Connecticut’s assault weapons ban, and otherwise control access to guns by increasing requirements for background checks, registration, storage and safety, and permits/licenses to carry; by regulating gun shows; and by prohibiting sales of guns and ammunition to Connecticut residents via the internet;
- Policymakers should work deeply and collaboratively within local communities in multidisciplinary efforts involving law enforcement, mental health, social services, child welfare, education, judicial, and public health, to both support these communities as they heal from such tragedies, and understand and implement ways to prevent future episodes of gun violence.
- Policymakers should establish a long term working group charged with evaluating the state’s community based capacity to a) respond to traumatic events and b) assist local communities/municipalities in the development of trauma prevention and response strategies.