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Report: Take Aim at Reducing Child Gun Deaths in PA

June 11, 2008

Harrisburg, PA – More preschoolers die in gun violence every year than law enforcement officers are killed in the line of duty. It's a fact featured in a new report that compiles Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics of children killed by guns. Pennsylvania lost 138 children to firearms in one year, 2005, and the numbers have been creeping up every year, whether the deaths are homicides, suicides, or accidents.

Ladd Everitt with the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence says technology is available to protect children in every case by making guns more difficult to access and use, by such means as smart-gun technology that only allows the registered user to fire the weapon.

"There is a lot of room for improvement in terms of the way we manufacture guns in order to make them tamper-resistant to children."

Gun-rights groups contend that most proposed laws infringe on constitutional rights to own weapons, and they advocate gun safety education to protect children. But Everitt argues that gun safety education is not very effective in a society that glamorizes guns. He believes safety laws should go hand-in-hand with gun rights.

"We do shockingly little both to make guns safe, and then to make sure that they're stored safely in the home."

Nationwide, gun deaths of children went up in 2005 for the first time in more than a decade, with more than 3,000 children dying in gun violence that year.

"Protect Kids, Not Guns" is the Children's Defense Fund report that analyzes the CDC's data. You can read the full report online at www.childrensdefense.org.

Deborah Smith/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - PA