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Study: Child Gun Deaths Up Nationally, and in TN

June 11, 2008

Knoxville, TN – For the first time since 1994, gun deaths among children and teens have gone up nationwide. Analysis of numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by the Children’s Defense Fund finds that more than 3,000 kids died from gun violence in a single year, 2005, and 77 of those deaths were in Tennessee.

Lisa McLeod is executive director of the CDF of Tennessee. She says while new gun legislation is controversial, a focus on safety is needed to protect kids.

"One of the things that seems to be needed is for Tennessee state law to be stricter on handgun control."

Tennessee saw a 30-percent rise in gun deaths in a three-year period. The majority of those were homicides and suicides. McLeod adds they also know that African-American teen boys are most affected by gun violence, but the problems really affect everyone in the state.

"Access to handguns for children and teens also ends up draining resources out of our health care system because we're just looking at 77 deaths in Tennessee, but we know that what goes with that are also other handgun injuries."

Mandatory child-safety locks, a limit on assault weapons and stricter registration rules are among the CDF's recommendations to help reverse the rise in youth gun violence. However, gun rights groups generally oppose new gun laws on the grounds that they infringe on the constitutional right to bear arms.

For the full report, go to www.childrensdefensefund.org.

Barbara Dab/Steve Powers, Public News Service - TN