The number of firearm-related deaths in children has changed dramatically in the last 10 years. Children are shot in their homes, in their neighborhood, their school, their church and other public places.

This year, Texas leads the nation in the number of unintentional shootings or accidental shootings among children who found a loaded firearm through July 2019. The source of this information is Everytown for Gun Safety, 2019.

Firearm-related deaths are a public health crisis. Texas has a public health crisis because of gun violence. The United States has a public heath crisis because of gun violence. As with all issues of health that cause mutilating injuries and death, adults need to look at the causes and solutions in a careful and thoughtful manner.

The American Pediatric Surgical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Texas Pediatric Society have all issued statements and recommendations to address this national public health crisis. These health professionals feel strongly that this is a health issue — and not an issue of politics or personal freedom.

They suggest Texas lawmakers and national lawmakers should implement common sense firearm safety policies. These include the following:

1. Enact a strong, effective assault weapon ban;

2. Universal background checks for all firearm transactions;

3. Safe gun storage with legislation limiting child access to in-home guns and Strong Child Access Prevention laws;

4. Improve access to mental health services;

5. Research and treatment for survivors; and

6. Research and funding for gun safety and prevention of mutilating injuries and death.

We live in a democracy. We value our children. We recognize that we have a problem and indeed have a crisis. We need to be thoughtful and determined.

If our elected officials don’t have the courage to start to address this crisis, none of us will be able to go to the store, to a football game or to a movie without being afraid.

Contact your elected officials to let them know what you feel they should be doing about this crisis. You can ask why the U.S. Senate hasn’t taken up the bill HR 8 passed by the House for universal background checks. You can ask why the firearms safety policies outlined by Gov. Greg Abbott weren’t addressed in the most recent legislation.

Please don’t become numb to this overwhelming crisis. The children of Texas need your help. Demand action.

Sally Robinson lives in Galveston.


(30) comments

Wayne Holt

"If our elected officials don’t have the courage to start to address this crisis, none of us will be able to go to the store, to a football game or to a movie without being afraid."

Just for perspective on what is being called a crisis of mass shootings (four or more injured or killed) in the US, the following statistics compiled by the National Safety Council, National Center for Health Statistics, et al: you are 154 times more likely to die from the flu than a mass shooting; more than three times more likely to die from choking on food; nearly three times more likely to die from bicycle related injuries.

Are these other causes of death also regarded as crisis level problems in America? If not, why not?

Finally, lumping high profile mass shootings together with low-level, ongoing criminal violence that is not highly publicized gives the impression there is a wave of random mass firearm violence in America; that is simply not the case. From The Guardian newspaper's study of mass shootings in America: "A new analysis of 358 mass shootings in America in 2015 found that three-quarters of the victims whose race could be identified were black. Roughly a third of the incidents with known circumstances were drive-by shootings or were identified by law enforcement as gang-related. Another third were sparked by arguments, often among people who were drunk or high. The analysis, conducted by the New York Times with data collected by Reddit’s mass shooting tracker and the Gun Violence Archive, used law enforcement reports on shootings that left four or more people injured or dead in 2015. Few of the incidents resembled the kinds of planned massacres in schools, churches and movie theaters that have attracted intense media and political attention. Instead, the analysis, defined purely by the number of victims injured, revealed that many were part of the broader burden of everyday gun violence on economically struggling neighborhoods. … Many gang-related mass shootings began as fights over small incidents of perceived disrespect."

We would be better served to bend to the task of growing an economy that can lift people out of poverty, to return to values that honor intact families, and to refuse to permit culture and entertainments that pander to the most violent and debased tastes imaginable. The vast majority of so-called assault weapons are held by law-abiding owners. They should not be penalized for the criminal behavior of others.

Jim Forsythe

Saying do not worry about gun deaths because other actives kill more, does not make it OK, unless we have taken all steps possible to reduce deaths. In a average year, deaths by autos, flu has gone down from the numbers in the past. The number of deaths by guns continues to increase.

Nearly 40,000 People Died From Guns in U.S. last Year, Highest in 50 Years. These deaths can not be reduced by a shot like flu can. The only way to reduce the number of deaths by guns is take steps to reduce the cause of these deaths.

Seasonal influenza is a killer, even in milder years. Lately, mild flu seasons tend to kill about 12,000 Americans, and more severe flu seasons kill up to 56,000. A high percent of the deaths are from people that did not get a flu shot or have a compromised immune system.

What Sally Robinson was talking about is Pediatric problems.

More than 1,200 children in US killed by guns last year.

As of April 19, 2019, a total of 186 pediatric deaths had been reported to CDC during the 2017-2018 season. This number exceeds the previously highest number of flu-associated deaths in children reported during a regular flu season (171 during the 2012-2013 season). Approximately 80% of these deaths occurred in children who had not received a flu vaccination .

Flu vaccine helps in reducing deaths , what reduces gun deaths?

Last winter was not the worst flu season on record. The 1918 flu pandemic, which lasted nearly two years, killed more than 500,000 Americans, historians estimate (no flu vaccine ).

The best defense against flu, the CDC, FDA, pediatricians and other health experts agree, is a flu vaccine.

Wayne Holt

Jim, I was addressing specifically the column's clear suggestion that recent mass shootings are indicative of a trend, i.e., that we soon will be unable to be in any public place without the threat of a mass shooting. The first item listed as a proposed solution was the banning of assault weapons; this is familiar in articles seeking more gun control.

It is clear from the data offered there that a case hasn't been made for taking this type of weapon away from law-abiding Americans; rather the outsized numbers of killings are done by criminal elements, for gang-related or petty revenge. Back these numbers out and, relative to the number of weapons at-large in America, you find a very peaceful and law-abiding cohort of gun owners. Why are these gun owners being lumped in with violent criminals and being told their Second Amendment rights must be abridged?

Not to get lost in the weeds re the flu, in an average flu season, the shot given has about a 25% chance of effectiveness against the flu strain most active that year. The numbers I've seen indicate single-digit percentage differences between those not taking flu shots and those who do as far as developing the flu.

Meanwhile, the federal government gives blanket liability immunity to companies that make the vaccines. Why would they need to do that if the cure was so much better than the disease?

Thanks for your civil response and point of view, Jim. I consider myself a learner in all things.

Jim Forsythe

I hope we can agree on reducing gun deaths would be a good thing. How can we do that? Mental health help is a place to start. Be honest on who should have guns. I have known 10 people that have committed suicides, 8 used a gun , one gassed himself and one hung himself and all were asking for help with by their actions before their deaths . Take a look at what guns make since for home protection and hunting sports. Why do we need large capacity clips? Until we change the way we think about guns, nothing will change. 40,000 people die each year from guns and we need to find a way to reduce that.

What ever percentage of reduction of death because of getting flu shot, is better than doing nothing. While the annual influenza vaccine isn't 100 percent effective, it's still the best defense against the flu. Vaccine effectiveness can vary from season to season and among different age and risk groups and even by vaccine type. Recent studies, show that flu vaccination reduces the risk of flu illness by between 40 gand 60 percent among the overall population during seasons when most circulating flu viruses are well-matched to the flu vaccine. flu vaccination reduced the risk of flu-associated death by half among children with underlying high-risk medical conditions. For healthy children, it cut the risk by nearly two-thirds.

Wayne Holt

Jim, I'll place this here to be nearer to your second post. We indeed can agree that reducing gun deaths would be a good thing, no doubt about it. The problem is that the solution suggested creates problems of its own, if you're talking about things like specific weapons. We would have less religious strife in America if we banned religions. We would have less political strife if we were only allowed to express the Party line. We would have less inconsistency of law if states were abolished, and we became not a federal government but a national government with one set of laws.

So the challenge is to reduce gun deaths while not abridging the freedoms spelled out in the Bill of Rights...and no, the Second Amendment was not placed there to make sure we could always hunt deer with a six-shot carbine. There is a serious purpose for it, one that's at least as significant as religious freedom and freedom of speech.

If you look at pediatric gun injuries, I would bet the vast majority are either from unsecured handguns that are found in a home or crime related drive-by shootings or thefts that go wrong. In both cases, the responsible assault gun owner is lumped in with the idiots and the criminals; I strenuously object to that.

When advocates can bring forward proposals--such as the background checks--that could help to keep guns out of the hands of known criminals or the disturbed without demonizing the vast majority of those who hold higher capacity weapons in a lawful and responsible way, we will be well on our way to making inroads on the problem of criminal gun violence. It's a thicket of issues to cut through, but I am always suspicious when the first thing proposed is a ban on a weapon that is not shown to be the problem; if you're looking for that, it would cheap handguns.

It's been a long, long time since I've been a pediatric anything, but I haven't had a flu shot in 25 years and haven't had a problem. Must be all that clean living and oceans of coffee : )

Emile Pope

More blathering and excuse for doing nothing...

Bailey Jones

"Flu vaccine helps in reducing deaths , what reduces gun deaths?" Or more broadly - what reduces killing? A vaccination against hatred, intolerance, and the sort of rhetoric that dehumanizes "those other" people. We don't teach compassion and empathy in our schools - it goes against our idea of "winning", it's seen as a weakness. We certainly don't practice it in our political discourse. Murder is inevitable in a nation that devalues compassion and empathy.

David Smith

This problem will never go away

Until you make the punishment fit the crime.

People are killed everyday by cellphones..

You going to ban them?

A gun has NEVER killed one person...

People ( use guns to)kill people ..

Address the problem

Not the prop

Sharon Stratman

A gun has never killed a person, but a cellphone has???

Carlos Ponce

Cell phones are being investigated for its effects on brains especially the young.

Raymond Lewis

People are killed every day by cell phones? Supporting evidence please.

Karen Sawyer

Thank you Dr. Sally!!

Gary Miller

40,000 gun related deaths a year? How many were in Democrat controlled inner cities? How many were due to drug and gang wars? How many could be avoided with restrictions on honest law abiding citizens? Looking at the where, why and how of most gun deaths it looks like the only way to reduce or end the killing would be to not elect Democrats.

Dan Freeman

We should thank Dr. Robinson for her careful delineation of the threat of guns to our children. Her proposals are entirely consistent for the Second Amendment. Justice Antoine Scalia in writing for the majority in District of Columbia et al. v. Heller states the right to bear arms refers “…to weapons that were not specifically designed for military use and were not employed in a military capacity.” He continues: “we do not read the Second Amendment to protect the right of citizens to carry arms for any sort of confrontation, just as we do not read the First Amendment to protect the right of citizens to speak for any purpose.” He then moves to discuss limitations to the Second Amendment: “Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited….nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”

Thus her modest recommendations are within the guidelines provided by Justice Scalia.

Wayne Holt

Why would Justice Scalia's judicial reasoning be more weighty than the clear words of the Second Amendment, and the historical record of what it was legal to own as far as privately held weapons in colonial times? In olden days, courts looked at the context and the penumbra of law to determine presumed legislative intent. Could not the Founders have made the same prohibitions explicit if that was the intent?

One should look at the history of the judicial branch of the government in commandeering the sole right of final interpretation to understand that. If that were not the case, we would not be fighting to overturn sanctioned "free speech zones"--in reality, a pen away from other people-- in public fora.

Lastly, why this focus on so-called assault weapons when it has been clearly shown they are not the weapon of choice for the large majority of guns deaths in the US, their use in random mass shootings is almost statistically invisible and the vast majority of those who own them do so in a lawful and peaceful manner?

When a recommendation is made that has no logical connection to the body of evidence of where the problem lies, one should be especially observant about the facts and reasoning that are offered in support of the proposed solution.

Wayne Holt

Forgot to mention: Childhood gun deaths include people up to the age of 17. Since we just saw a 16-year old indicted this month for capital murder in Galveston Co., it's pretty safe to assume a lot of the gun deaths occurred because of criminal activity on the part of the older "children."

Just so we don't get confused with the Gerber Baby set...

Steve Fouga

Wayne, if high-capacity semiautomatics are NOT the weapons of choice in mass shootings, then what weapons are?

Carlos Ponce

The Santa Fe shooter used a shotgun and a .38 revolver.

Wayne Holt

Steve, perhaps I wasn't clear. If you are talking about absolute number of injuries and deaths in the US, "assault weapons" are a very small

Wayne Holt

I must have gotten careless on that last response...try again.

If you are talking about absolute numbers of injuries and deaths, assault weapons are a small fraction of the total. Whether by careless storage, petty crimes, or intoxication, use of cheap handguns in the US are the weapon class that causes the overwhelming percentage of casualties.

Chicago has comparable numbers of casualties semi-weekly with no reports pounded out about it; it's not newsworthy when it takes three days to kill as many people every other week of the year as when some lunatic does it as a one-off.

As was said in the very early part, the visibility of high profile mass shootings with high capacity weapons obscures the very clear data showing that, in the universe of causes, that weapon type is a minor player. And so I asked, why the obsession with it?

Just to be clear, I'm not talking about things like effective background checks to keep them out of the hands of criminals and the disturbed. I was addressing the first item on the list of things that must be done, and that was ban all assault weapons. Again, with no connection to the bulk of the problem, this will principally affect law-abiding gun owners and is not a logically sound solution.

Gary Scoggin

Those “clear words of the Second Amendment “ include the phrase “well regulated militia”. Just wondering what militia some of you guys are in.

Carlos Ponce

In Heller v DC, the Supreme Court held, "The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home."

"The Second Amendment is naturally divided into two parts: its prefatory clause and its operative clause. The former does not limit the latter grammatically, but rather announces a purpose. The Amendment could be re­phrased, 'Because a well regulated Militia is necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed'.”

Gary Scoggin

So we accept the Supreme Court’s reasoning when it says what we want it to say. How convenient.

Carlos Ponce

It goes to ORIGINAL INTENT, Gary Scoggin. I suggest you read the decision written by the Supreme Court, link provided, before you make such a flippant comment as "it says what we want it to say."

Jim Forsythe

We have different gun laws in a lot of the states and the cities in those states. Part of the Heller decision says "the Second Amendment does not guarantee the “right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose". And the right to gun ownership is anchored in self-defense, with Scalia dubbing a handgun the “quintessential self-defense weapon.”

Can a city ban guns? Some have done so. Highland Park and other cities now have bans in place. The U.S. Supreme Court's refused to take up a challenge to Highland Park's ban on assault weapons and protects similar restrictions in Chicago and other parts of Illinois and sends a message that municipalities have the right to determine how to best protect their communities, according to legal experts. The practical effect of that decision was to signal other local governments that they could legally impose bans on certain types of military-style guns without violating the Second Amendment.

The Supreme Court effectively let stand the decision by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upholding a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines that Highland Park and about 20 other Illinois cities have passed .

What does the ban do? The 20 cities have ordinances like the one below.

Deerfield, Illinois :The ordinance makes it unlawful to possess, sell, transport or store assault rifles. The weapons are defined as semi-automatic rifles able to accept a large magazine. The ordinance also bans certain models, including the AR-15, the AK-47 and Uzis. Violations carry a fine of between $250 and $1,000 per day, the fine is levied each day until there is compliance.

Carlos Ponce

Deerfield, Illinois - "Court Rejects Deerfield's Assault Weapon Ban Appeal " June 14, 2019

"DEERFIELD, IL — An Illinois appellate panel dismissed Deerfield's first attempt to reverse a Lake County judge's ruling blocking the village from enforcing "assault weapons" and "large-capacity magazine" bans passed last year."

Read further:

Jim Forsythe

The theme is, can the Second Amendment says what we want it to say. The answer is of course it can. If this was not true, no case would be reviewed more than once. We have had, and still have bans on machine guns after a certain date and thing like the Federal ban on bump stocks .

Is the Highland Park ban still in place? I do not know because I can not find stating that it had. As far as I can tell it was not part of the Deerfield case.

Jun 15, 2018: "Part of the issue is that Deerfield asserts that its ordinance bans magazines that carry more than 10 bullets. The village also alleges that it closely modeled its ordinance on Highland Park's. The neighboring town's semi-automatic weapon ban was upheld in the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of Freidman v. Highland Park. Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia were the only justices who sought to review the judgement upholding the constitutionality of a municipal assault-style weapon ban."

January 2, 2019: Illinois, A new law called the Firearms Restraining Order Act creates a system to take guns away from people who are deemed dangerous to others or themselves. Relatives or police can request an emergency order of protection against someone who has shown threatening or suicidal behavior, which could include social media posts. The order could lead to that person's guns being seized immediately for two weeks, or up to six months in more extreme cases. January 2, 2019: Oregon, The state has expanded its firearm ban for domestic abusers and stalkers to close a so-called "boyfriend loophole." The new law bans all convicted stalkers, abusers and people under restraining orders from buying or owning guns, regardless of whether they are married or live with children.

You also remember when assault weapons were banned? As they were banned in the past, they can be banned at anytime.

The assault weapons ban of 1994, which outlawed the manufacture, sale and possession of these military-style rifles from the date of the bill's enactment. Assault-style rifles legally owned before enactment were grandfathered. That law lapsed a decade later

Dan Freeman

Mr. Holt asks: “Why would Justice Scalia's judicial reasoning be more weighty than the clear words of the Second Amendment, …?” Because he wrote the majority opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), the case in which the Supreme Court of the United States held that the Second Amendment protects an individual's Right to keep and bear arms, unconnected with service in a militia, for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home, and that the District of Columbia's handgun ban and requirement that lawfully owned rifles and shotguns be kept "unloaded and disassembled or bound by a trigger lock" violated this guarantee.[1] It also stated that the right to bear arms is not unlimited and that guns and gun ownership would continue to be regulated. It was the first Supreme Court case to decide whether the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms for self-defense or if the right was intended for state militias.[2]

Your right to bear arms unconnected to membership in the militia hangs on this decision along with McDonald v. Chicago, 561 U.S. 742 (2010).

Carlos Ponce

"It also stated that the right to bear arms is not unlimited..."

"Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues. The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms byfelons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of fire-arms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms. Miller’s holding that the sorts of weapons protected are those 'in common use at the time' finds support in the historical traditionof prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons. "

"dangerous and unusual weapons" - Without this observation, fully automatic weapons could be sold to the general populace.

Wayne Holt

Gary, I made the comment about Justice Scalia, not Carlos. I don't believe he has said anything about picking and choosing decisions based on preferences.

Anyone with a passing familiarity with the decisions that the Supreme Court has made over the years can easily detect an inexorable erosion of plain sense reading of the Bill of Rights and assorted constitutional constrictions by various methods that usually expand government power. That is CLEARLY not what the Founders intended unless they were an ultra-Federalist.

A single, simple phrase like "promote the general welfare" has been turned into a catch-all to allow the most extreme interpretations of what the central government may do, and the power it is allowed to wield when it does it.

My perspective on this is as a strict constructionist. The idea that Gomorrah on the Potomac is going to produce anything remotely near the genius of the Founders is laughable. They bequeathed a form of government the world had never seen before... and we have allowed it to be taken away, decision by decision.

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