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Children Gun Deaths Still High in Iowa

October 22, 2008

Des Moines, IA – Children's advocates are looking down the barrel today when it comes to firearms deaths of children and teens as part of the "Day of International Concern About Young People and Gun Violence." In Iowa, the number of children killed in gun violence rose to 16 in 2004 and has remained near that level since.

Ed Shelleby with the Children's Defense Fund says saving children's lives needs to be a priority. While updating gun safety laws is one option, he says there are things parents can do, too.

"The easiest influence parents can have is to refuse to buy products for children that glamorize guns."

Those opposed to changing gun laws say it interferes with the constitutional "right to bear arms." Shelleby says Iowans need to be vocal about the senseless deaths of children.

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

According to the CDC, most of the children who died in Iowa from firearms killed themselves. Suicide is the second-leading cause of death in that age group, and Shelleby says research shows that the presence of a gun in the home raises the risk of successful suicide.

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

Dick Layman/Steve Powers, Public News Service - IA