Friday, June 27th, 2014
There’s no doubt that the discussion about gun control and gun violence has increased since the Sandy Hook shootings in Newtown two years ago.
A new study (“Innocents Lost: A Year of Unintentional Child Gun Deaths“) just released by Everytown for Gun Safety reveals that between December 2012 and December 2013 at least 100 kids (younger than 14 years old) across the nation have died as a result of accidental shootings. Toddlers (ages 2 to 4) were more likely to die from self-inflicted shooting while school-age kids (ages 12 to 14) were more likely to die from a peer shooting.
The Huffington Post reports:
Unintentional shootings of children occurred most often in places familiar to those who were killed. Eighty-four percent of victims were killed in their home, the home of a friend, or the family car, according to the study. In 76 percent of the cases, the gun belonged to a parent or other family member.The killings occurred more often in small towns and rural areas than in cities. They occurred in 35 states.
The findings from Everytown came from an extensive review of news stories and subscription services in the 12 months following the December 2012 shooting in at Sandy Hook Elementary School, which resulted in the deaths of 20 students and six school employees. Researchers with the group followed up with law enforcement officials in cases where there was any ambiguity. If it remained unclear whether the shooting was accidental, the researchers did not count it.
As a percentage of total victims of gun violence, children who are unintentionally killed is quite small. But the 100 shootings over the course of the year averages out to almost two per week.
Part of the problem, Everytown argues, is poor education about the dangers of firearms and how to safely store them. The group advocates “well-tailored child safety” laws, including those “imposing criminal liability” for irresponsible gun storage. The report cites Florida’s “Child Access Prevention” law as one to emulate.
Image: 9 mm gun on wooden table via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, December 11th, 2013
A woman who sews sock monkey toys for a living ran into a surprising obstacle while trying to board a flight at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport this week–TSA officials confiscated a two-inch toy pistol that’s an accessory for one of the boys. More from NBC News:
Phyllis May of Redmond, Wash., was travelling from St. Louis on Dec. 3 when she noticed a TSA agent inspecting one of her carry-on bags, according to NBC affiliate King 5.
May sells the dolls and had several sock monkeys and sewing supplies in the bag. One of the monkeys, named “Rooster Monkburn,” after John Wayne’s character “Rooster Cogburn” in the movie “True Grit,” is a cowboy with a two-inch long pistol.
“She said ‘This is a gun,’” May told King 5. “I said ‘No, it’s not a gun, it’s a prop for my monkey.’”
“She said ‘If I held it up to your neck, you wouldn’t know if it was real or not,’ and I said ‘Really?’” May said.
May told King 5 the TSA agent took the monkey’s gun and informed May she was supposed to call the police.
“Rooster Monkburn has been disarmed so I’m sure everyone on the plane was safe,” she told King 5. “I understand she was doing her job, but at some point doesn’t common sense prevail?”
King 5 reported that the agent did not call police and May was able to keep her sewing supplies and other dolls and board the plane.
In a statement, the TSA defended its action, citing its longstanding policy of prohibiting any replicas of firearms from being allowed onto airplanes.
Image: Sock monkey, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, November 12th, 2013
Movies that are rated PG-13, which means that children over age 13 can see them in theaters, have gotten more and more violent in the last 2 decades, to the point where many are more violent than movies that earned an “R” rating in the 1980s. More from NBC News:
Psychologists say it’s a worrisome trend that we should take seriously, because there is evidence that watching violence on screen increases aggression in real life.
“Of course it’s not the only factor, and it may not even be the most important factor, but it isn’t a trivial factor — and it’s one we can change,” says Brad Bushman, an Ohio State University psychologist and lead author of the new report.
Bushman and colleagues analyzed 945 popular films released from 1950 to 2012. Each movie was among the 30 top-grossing films of that year, and they randomly chose 15 of those top 30 movies to scrutinize. Undergrads watched every film and counted every violent act — they defined a violent sequence as “physical acts where the aggressor makes or attempts to make some physical contact with the intention of causing injury or death.”
They found that since 2009, PG-13 movies have featured as much or more violence than the R-rated films released those same years. And in 2012, there was more gun violence in PG-13 films than in the R-rated ones out that year….
There are a few things that might explain the remarkable rise in violence in PG-13 films. Ratings are determined by the Motion Picture Association of America — which means, Bushman says, they’re “assigned by the industry.” (The MPAA declined to comment on the study, but you can read more about the ratings system here.)
And a movie rated PG-13 will attract more theatergoers than an R, of course, because kids can go see it. Romer also thinks the rise in sci-fi and comic book movies has something to do with it —violence may be easier for us to handle if it’s got a fantasy element to it. And violence is understandable in every language, which means violence-fueled action movies are more marketable overseas than comedies.
Image: Teens at movies, via Shutterstock
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Monday, October 28th, 2013
A new analysis of hospital records by two Boston doctors who presented their research to the American Academy of Pediatrics shows an astounding rise in the number of kids injured or killed by gunshot wounds. More from NBC News:
About 500 American children and teenagers die in hospitals every year after sustaining gunshot wounds — a rate that climbed by nearly 60 percent in a decade, according to the first-ever accounting of such fatalities, released Sunday.
In addition, an estimated 7,500 kids are hospitalized annually after being wounded by gunfire, a figure that spiked by more than 80 percent from 1997 to 2009, according two Boston doctors presenting their findings at a conference of the American Academy of Pediatrics, held in Orlando, Fla.
Eight of every 10 firearm wounds were inflicted by handguns, according to hospital records reviewed by the doctors. They say the national conversation about guns should shift toward the danger posed by smaller weapons, not the recent fights over limiting the availability of military-style, semi-automatic rifles.
“Handguns account for the majority of childhood gunshot wounds and this number appears to be increasing over the last decade,” said Dr. Arin L. Madenci, a surgical resident at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital and one of the study’s two authors. “Furthermore, states with higher percentages of household firearm ownership also tended to have higher proportions of childhood gunshot wounds, especially those occurring in the home.”
Among homes with children, rates of gun possession ranged from 10 percent in New Jersey, for instance, to 62 percent in Montana, the researchers found.
Madenci, and his colleague, Dr. Christopher Weldon, a surgeon at Boston Children’s Hospital, tallied the new statistics by culling a national database of 36 million pediatric hospitalizations from 1997 to 2009, the most recent year for which figures are available.
Image: Small handgun, via Shutterstock
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Friday, October 25th, 2013
Police in Sonoma County, California shot and killed 13-year-old Andy Lopez after the boy refused to drop a rifle that resembled an AK-47 but was later determined to be a fake. More from NBC News:
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The Sonoma County deputies on patrol saw the boy, identified as Andy Lopez, walking in a blue hoodie with what appeared to be a rifle at 3:14 p.m. Tuesday, Sheriff’s Lt. Dennis O’Leary said in a statement. The replica gun resembled an AK-47 with a black magazine cartridge and brown butt, according to a photograph the sheriff released. It did not have the traditionally orange tip of a replica firearm.
Andy’s father, Rodrigo Lopez, said he can’t believe his son wouldn’t listen to authorities if they asked him to drop the weapon. His son, he said, had a lot of respect for police.
“I sense that he did obey orders,” Rodrigo Lopez said.
Other community members also stood behind the boy.
“He was not a gang member, he was an 8th grader,” said Anita Ruiz, whose son was friends with the victim. “He was not a criminal, but yet he’s dead. He’s 13 years old. Couldn’t something else have been done?”