In a move that is drawing a variety of opinions from people on every side of the debate over gun violence, the American Academy of Pediatrics appealed to Congress this month to pass legislation that includes an assault weapon ban, mandatory background checks and waiting periods before all firearm purchases, a ban on high-capacity magazines, handgun regulations and requirements for safe firearm storage under federal law. NBC News has more:
“I think we can be honest brokers,” says Dr. Lolita McDavid, medical director for child advocacy and protection at University Hospitals, part of Case Western Reserve University’s school of medicine in Cleveland.
“We have to have a collectively louder voice,” Dr. Danielle Laraque, who chairs the pediatrics department at Maimonides Infants and Children’s Hospital in Brooklyn, told a meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies in Washington, D.C., earlier this month. “What we need is a call to action, to really look at how we can change public policy that is not often affected by data.”
They don’t always get a friendly reception. Just two weeks before the doctors arrived, Congress had scuttled what gun-control advocates had considered a modest bill to expand background checks for gun sales.
Congress had already dropped a wider measure pushed by President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden after the December shootings of 20 schoolchildren and six adults in Newtown, Conn.
As many as one in five American children who are considered to be at risk of committing suicide have access to guns–the most effective method of killing yourself–in their homes, says a new study that was presented to the Pediatric Academic Societies meeting this week in Washington, DC. NBC News has more:
They said their findings show it’s extremely important to screen children for suicide risk, and to educate parents about how to keep guns out of their hands if they are. And early treatment is also vital.
The researchers, who presented their findings at the Pediatric Academic Societies meeting in Washington, D.C., say they don’t want their results to get mixed up in the current debate over firearms regulation. They just want to keep kids safe.
“A lot of kids, surprisingly, don’t have a history of mental illness but they attempt suicide,” says Dr. Stephen Teach, an emergency room doctor at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
Suicide is the No. 3 cause of death for children and youths aged 10 to 24, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 4,600 kids and young adults kill themselves each year, and 45 percent of them use guns. Another 40 percent suffocate or strangle themselves and 8 percent poison themselves.
“Guns are the most lethal method that is commonly used in suicide attempts,” says Dr. Matt Miller, an injury control expert at the Harvard School of Public Health. People who try to commit suicide using pills or by cutting themselves complete the suicide just 3 percent of the time, he said.
Teach and colleagues made their discovery while trying to come up with an easy, short questionnaire for emergency room doctors to use while seeing children for a range of troubles. Their study included 524 patients ages 10 to 21 being seen at three pediatric emergency rooms.
“When we were asking kids these questions, we also asked kids questions about firearms and bullets. To our surprise, one-fifth reported firearms in the home,” Teach said in an interview. “That’s a pretty volatile mix. Nearly half of all completed suicides involve firearms, which is pretty scary.”
A 4-year-old Houston boy has died after he picked up a handgun and shot himself, NBC News is reporting, adding that the gun belonged to the boy’s father and was stolen. More from NBC:
Marquiez Deshon Pratt, 21, was asleep on the couch when his son, Jaiden, picked up the gun and shot himself in the stomach, according to a report from the Houston Police Department.
The weapon, a .40-caliber semiautomatic pistol, was stolen during a burglary in 2011, according to the police report.
Jaiden was spending the weekend with his father when the incident occurred. The boy’s mother dropped him off every Friday and was scheduled to pick him up Sunday at noon, according to the Houston Chronicle.
After the shooting, the elder Pratt ran out of his second-floor apartment with his son in his arms, yelling to his neighbors for help, according to the Houston Chronicle.
When officers arrived, Pratt handed his son over to them and ran back to his apartment.
While some officers pursued Pratt, others performed CPR on the young victim, but the boy was pronounced dead at the scene.
The Facebook Town Hall interview with Vice President Joe Biden conducted earlier this week by Parents.com executive editor Michael Kress has made headlines on a wide range of outlets, with analysts and reporters commenting in particular on a comment Biden made urging a mother to “buy a shotgun” instead of a weapon with a high-capacity magazine.
Wednesday night, the moment was featured as the “Moment of Zen” on the Comedy Central program “The Daily Show” (video below). Here are links to some other news reactions to the Town Hall:
Gawker.com: Joe Biden’s Advice for Defending Your Home: ‘Buy a Shotgun, Buy a Shotgun’