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Taking Aim at Young Arizonans and Gun Violence

October 22, 2008

Phoenix, AZ - The "Day of International Concern," taking place today, aims to call attention to issues of firearms violence and youth. Federal statistics show the number of gun deaths of children and teens in Arizona has increased three years in a row, with 102 dead just in the last year. The Children's Defense Fund has been tracking such trends for a decade, and spokesman Ed Shelleby says that, while changing gun laws would help, it's also about what he calls the nation's "culture of violence."

"We have this sort of romanticized notion of guns and violence portrayed in video games and movies, on television and through the Internet. It would be a great place to start if parents said, 'You know what? We're not going to expose our children to this.'"

Shelleby says the latest statistics show more preschoolers nationwide are killed by firearms in a year than law enforcement officers are killed in the line of duty. Some of those children's deaths are accidents, but most are murders.

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

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

Those opposed to changing gun laws cite interference with the "right to bear arms" mentioned in the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Complete statistics on firearm deaths of children and teens is available online at

Deborah Smith/Steve Powers, Public News Service - AZ