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In the News

CDC Reports Decline in Children’s Gun Deaths; Common Sense About Kids and Guns Applauds Responsible Parents But Warns There’s More To Do
Common Sense about Kids and Guns, 10/8/2001

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Washington, DC -- Firearm deaths for children and teens have dropped significantly including an 18% reduction in the number of gun accidents and a 13% reduction in gun suicides among kids 0-19 years-old, according to new mortality data released by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.

Victoria Reggie Kennedy, president of Common Sense about Kids and Guns attributes the drop in deaths to more responsible gun owners and gun storage practices, but warns of continued risks for the future.

Common Sense about Kids and Guns is encouraged by this downward trend in firearm deaths. (See data.) We applaud the responsible adults who followed our Common Sense Safety Tips and assured that no child or teen encountered a loaded or improperly stored firearm in their home.” Common Sense about Kids and Guns is a nonpartisan group co-founded by Kennedy that has worked for more than two years to promote responsible gun ownership and firearm storage practices.

“But while the decreases are significant, there were still 1,300 kids killed in gun-related accidents and suicides in 1999. This translates into one child or teen killed in a firearm-related accident or suicide every seven hours. And the reality is that many of these accidents and suicides were preventable, if the firearm in question had been properly stored: unloaded and locked.”

In response to reports of a possible increase in gun sales in the first few days after the September 11th attacks, Kennedy said: “As all Americans struggle to find an appropriate response to the tragic events of last month, we strongly urge that adults exercise caution and engage in an honest assessment of their own personal family situations before making the decision to bring a gun into their home.”

“During these difficult and volatile times, parents need to help children cope by giving them a sense of safety and security. Unfortunately, that sense of safety and security can be shattered by a hastily made decision to bring a gun into the home.”

At the heart of the Common Sense about Kids and Guns message is parental responsibility. “A responsible adult cannot rely on a child or teenager not to touch a gun, merely because they have been told not to do so. It is impossible to predict what children, teenagers, and their friends will do, and the risks of mishandling a gun are too great to place the burden of responsibility on anyone other the adult bringing the gun into the home.”

“Without any exaggeration, the way a gun is stored can be a matter of life and death for our children,” Kennedy said. “Tragedies occur daily involving unlocked firearms easily accessible to young people either at their own homes or the home of a relative or neighbor. As adults, we must take action to prevent these tragedies from ever happening again.”

Common Sense about Kids and Guns has developed six simple safety tips that have been endorsed by organizations from the National SAFE KIDS Campaign to the National Shooting Sport Foundation. Whether or not someone decides to keep a gun at home, Common Sense urges all adults to follow these steps to protect kids from gun deaths and injuries:

All gun owners must:
- unload and lock up their guns;
- lock and store ammunition separately; and
- keep keys where kids are unable to find them.
All parents must:
- ask if guns are safely stored at places their kids visit or play;
- talk with their kids about guns; and
- teach young children not to touch guns and to tell an adult if they find one.

“We are encouraged by these new numbers citing a decrease in the number of gun deaths. However, there are still many complex issues that lead to gun violence in our society – issues that we must address in a serious way,” concluded Kennedy. “But right now, if adults act responsibly and follow these six simple steps, we can continue to reduce the number of tragedies involving kids and guns. And remember, the child you save may be your own.”

For more information on this topic, go to the Common Sense about Kids and Guns website at or call toll-free (877) 955-KIDS.

# # #

Data Source: Deaths: Final Data for 1999. NVSR Volume 49, No. 8. 114 pp. (PHS) 2001-1120.

Deaths: Final Data for 1999, prepared by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, is the most recent comprehensive report on mortality patterns in the United States, based on all death records in the United States for 1999.

To arrange an interview with Mrs. Kennedy, contact Paul Marchione (202) 546-0200.

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Please note: Common Sense and its endorsing organizations do not necessarily endorse all content stemming from the links provided in this page.  All resources in these web pages are provided for information purposes only and should not be construed as professional advice. Advice and opinions on mental health and other medical issues should be obtained through consultation with a licensed and trained professional.

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