Wed, Dec 26, 2012 - Page 7 News List

Young children are often victims of gunfire in US

AP, WASHINGTON

“Now that it’s clear that no community in this country is invulnerable from gun violence, from its children being stolen ... we can finally have the national conversation we all need to have,” NAACP president Ben Jealous said.

The problem is not confined to the inner city or is simply the result of gang or drug violence, as often is the perception.

Faith Ehlen, 22 months, Autumn Cochran, 10, and Alyssa Cochran, 11, all died on Sept. 6. Their mother killed them with a shotgun before turning it on herself in DeSoto, Missouri, a community of about 6,300.

In Dundee, Oregon, Randall Engels used a gun to kill his estranged wife Amy Engels and son Jackson, 11, as they ate pizza on July 4. An older sibling of Jackson’s also was killed. Engels then committed suicide.

Many of the children who died this year were shot with guns that belonged to their parents, relatives or baby sitters, or were simply in the home. Webster said children’s accidental deaths by guns have fallen since states passed laws requiring that guns be locked away from youths or have safeties to keep them from firing.

The Obama administration will push to tighten gun laws, many that have faced resistance in Congress for years. The solutions may include reinstating a ban on assault-style rifles, closing gun buying background check loopholes and restricting high-capacity magazines.

Those may have limited effect for children like Amari Markel-Purrel Perkins, of Clinton, Maryland. He shot himself in the chest on April 9 with a gun that an adult had stashed inside a Spiderman backpack.

Like most of the child victims at Newtown, Amari was 6.

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