The tragic massacre that occurred a year ago at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT brought gun violence and regulation debates to the forefront of American politics. But the bickering lasted too long and since then, public interest has waned and too children continue to die from gunfire.
The most popular proposal that emerged in the wake of the shootings was the expansion of background checks on firearm purchases. At the height of the debate, nearly 90 percent of Americans polled by ORC/CNN supported universal background checks. Even though an overwhelming majority of Americans supported expanding background checks, when it came time for the Senate to vote, a GOP filibuster forced the bill to stall.
It has been 19 years since Congress passed any meaningful gun legislation:The Brady Act. Since President Clinton signed the law in 1993, the law has stopped over 1.6 million bad gun sales and decreased gun crimes. Now, as lawmakers have failed to implement what would have been a smart addition to American gun legislation, support has tapered. The Huffington Post reported that since the shooting, there has been a steady, downward decline in gun control support.
Support for universal background checks for firearm purchases still remains alive within the majority; however, support has been decreasing. Once at 90 percent, support for universal background checks has fallen to 77 percent now. Despite the numerous attempts to pass expanded background check legislation through Congress, 17 percent believe that Congress was successful in those attempts. Most of that 17 percent are Republicans.
However, despite one piece of gun legislation passed in 1993, although successful, gun incidents involving children still run high.
Mother Jones reported that since the Sandy Hook shootings, 194 children ages 12 and under in America have died from fatal gunshot wounds; whether it be murder, suicide, or accidental deaths. Most of these deaths, 127, occurred inside the home and of the 194 deaths, 72 were self-inflicted or inflicted by someone in their age cohort.
But this report is very narrow and specific in scope. It doesn’t account for all minors under age 18 involved in gun deaths, which more than doubles the number that Mother Jones reported. NBCNews reported that on average, 500 minors are killed in gun-related deaths each year. And the number of injuries towers that figure at 7,500. The type of gun seems to have a lot to do with these incidents, as well.
“Handguns account for the majority of childhood gunshot wounds and this number appears to be increasing over the last decade,” said Dr. Arin Madenci, a surgical resident at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “States with higher percentages of household firearm ownership also tended to have higher proportions of childhood gunshot wounds, especially those occurring in the home.”
The number of gun-related child deaths in America is troubling. Gun crimes have been decreasing since the passage of the Brady Act, but child gun deaths have been steadily increasing. Over the last 10 years, the number has increased 60 percent from with 317 deaths in 1997 increasing to 503 in 2009.