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Children and Teen Firearm Deaths On the Rise in CA and Nation

June 11, 2008

Sacramento, CA - After more than a decade of decline, gun deaths of children in the United States have increased for the first time since 1994. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that more than 3,000 children died in the year 2005 in gun-related deaths, including nearly 500 California babies, children and teens.

Susan Gates with the Children's Defense Fund analyzed the statistics and says the increase coincides with the expiration of the federal assault weapons ban.

"What we do know is that when gun laws are in effect, gun safety mechanisms, that deaths and accidents among children and teens go down dramatically."

In a report titled "Protect Children, Not Guns", based on the CDC figures,the CDF calls for "common sense" gun safety measures, encourages parents to remove guns from homes, and asks parents to boycott products that glamorize violence.

Griffin Dix with the Oakland chapter of the Brady Campaign lost his son to gun violence in 1994. He says that, although California has put gun safety and gun purchasing laws on the books, tougher federal action is needed.

"We need to make it harder for dangerous people to get dangerous weapons. You know, it's much wiser to have prevention and to have these laws in place. And the laws I’m talking about do not make it more difficult for law-abiding citizens to own guns."

A bill moving through the California Legislature, AB 2235, would require that handguns include recognition technology in their grips that allows only the registered gun owner to fire the weapon.

Gun rights groups warn against new gun laws, saying they infringe on the constitutional right to bear arms, and they say carrying a gun protects personal safety for many Californians.

The CDF report is available at www.childrensdefense.org.
Information on the proposed AB 2235 can be found at www.assembly.ca.gov.


Lori Abbott/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - CA