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Looking Down the Barrel of Gun Violence and Kids in FL

October 22, 2008

Tampa, FL –Taking aim at young people and firearms is part of today's "Day of International Concern About Young People and Gun Violence." Federal statistics show the number of gun deaths of children and teens in Florida has risen three years in a row, with 140 children dead in the last year tallied.

Children's Defense Fund has been tracking the trends for ten years, and spokesman Ed Shelleby says that, while changing gun laws would help, it's also about what he terms the nation's "culture of violence."

"We have this sort of romanticized notion of guns and violence in video games and movies, on television, and on the Internet. If parents can stop the cycle at home by saying 'no' to violent video games and entertainment, that would be a great first start."

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

Shelleby says it's also important not to become desensitized to the violence, which is easy to do because it's so common in entertainment.

"It is important 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 - FL