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Taking Aim at Kids and Gun Violence in MO

October 22, 2008

St. Louis, MO – It's time to start taking aim at young people and gun violence. That's the theme being recognized today as part of this "International Day of Concern about Young People and Gun Violence." Federal statistics show the number of gun deaths of children and teens in Missouri has risen three years in a row, with 73 dead in the most recent year tallied.

The Children's Defense Fund has been tracking the trends for ten years, and spokesman Ed Shelleby believes changing gun laws is just the first step in reversing the cycle. Shelleby explains that Americans are desensitized to brutality in the media, and that creates a "culture of violence."

"We have this sort of romanticized notion of guns and violence in video games and movies, on television and the Internet. The first step is for parents to say, 'You know what? We're not going to give this to our children.'"

Shelleby says the latest statistics show firearms kill more preschoolers nationwide in a year than law enforcement officers are killed in the line of duty, and while some deaths are accidents, most are murders.

"It is time to talk to community leaders and tell them about the effects of gun violence, not only for children, but for themselves, and for communities."

Those opposed to changing gun laws cite interference with the constitutional right to bear arms.

More information on firearm deaths of children and teens is available online at www.childrensdefense.org.

Deborah Smith/Steve Powers, Public News Service - MO