2006-07-19 / Features

Increase In Child Gun Victims

BY JOHN TOSCANO

We can protect all New Yorkers from gun violence if we take common-sense steps to keep illegal guns off the streets and out of the hands of criminals. We can protect all New Yorkers from gun violence if we take common-sense steps to keep illegal guns off the streets and out of the hands of criminals. A newly issued report on the impact of gun violence on children shows that 131 children were killed by firearms in New York state in 2003, bringing the state up to the fourth ranking in gun-related deaths behind California, Texas and Illinois.

In New York City, 62 children under age 20 died by gunfire, according to City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr., who issued the report jointly with Donna Lawrence, executive director of the Children's Defense Fund (CDF-NY).

Vallone, who recently joined with Quinn (D-Manhattan) in introducing four bills to combat illegal guns, stated: "We can protect all New Yorkers from gun violence if we take common-sense steps to keep illegal guns off the streets and out of the hands of criminals.

"In order for law abiding citizens to own a gun legally, we need to crack down on illegal guns and irresponsible dealers as well as give law enforcement the proper tools it needs."

Gun violence is one of the harshest realities facing New York kids today, and as a public health matter, is entirely preventable. Gun violence is one of the harshest realities facing New York kids today, and as a public health matter, is entirely preventable. The release of the report follows closely upon the deaths of a 6-and 7-year-old in Harlem and a 7-year-old in The Bronx. In the latter case, the child was killed while playing in his front yard.

Quinn said, "This report provides further evidence that gun violence is a serious threat to kids across New York City."

The report, "Protect Children, Not Guns," outlines eight recommendations for parents and communities to help reduce gun violence, according to the Quinn/Vallone release.

In addition, it calls for imposition of child trigger locks and banning of assault weapons, and outlines new strategies to educate the public about gun violence, such as visiting hospital trauma wards and organizing ceasefires.

Urban ceasefire programs, one of which was instituted in Boston, are cited as playing a significant role in reducing youth homicides. The report documents the age, race and manner of 2,827 gun-related deaths of children under age 20 in the United States.

Lawrence stated: "The deaths of thousands of children each year is morally obscene for the world's most powerful nation. Our organization applauds Speaker Quinn and Councilmember Vallone for their vision and leadership in introducing critical anti-gun legislation.

"We implore our leaders in Washington to seize the opportunity to support these bills and take a stand for common sense gun safety before we lose thousands more children to senseless gun violence."

The legislation introduced by Quinn and Vallone, chairman of the Public Safety Committee, limits access to illegal guns. It includes the Gun Offender Registration Act for individuals convicted of criminal possession of a weapon; a one-handgun-everythree months purchase limit; an inventory bill, which would require city gun dealers to physically examine their inventories twice a year, and a ban on gun coloration kits used to disguise real guns so they look like toy guns.

Commenting on the legislation and the new report, Councilmember John Liu (D-Flushing) said:

"Gun violence is one of the harshest realities facing New York kids today, and as a public health matter, is entirely preventable.

"Pro-gun activists talk about protecting the rights of sportsmen to hunt when we all know that guns in New York City end up killing and maiming innocent adults and children. When are they going to talk about the rights of children to a safe neighborhood?"

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