The Dec. 26 issue contained a front-page story with a [Buckhead] gun store owner’s reaction to the recent shootings in Newtown, Conn. In response, I would like to give a pediatrician’s perspective.
According to an American Academy of Pediatrics policy study (http://bit.ly/VIieC4), in 2009 nearly 3,000 children died nationwide due to firearms injuries, including homicide, suicide and accidents. Firearms accounted for one in five of all injury deaths in children under 20. Children ages 5 to 14 in the U.S. are eight times more likely to die from firearm suicide than their contemporaries in other high-income countries. The rate of death from unintentional injury is 10 times higher.
A child living in a house with a gun is more likely to die from homicide, suicide or accidents. A curious child, a depressed child, an angry child (or a depressed, angry or inebriated adult) is more likely to be harmed or harm others if a gun is readily available. For these reasons, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents not have guns in their homes. If parents choose to have guns, they must lock them in a safe and lock the ammunition separately to reduce the risk of a child injuring himself or others.
The shooting deaths of the schoolchildren in Newtown was a tragedy. Similar tragedies occur on a much too frequent basis throughout this country when children and guns mix. Fewer guns in homes will let more children reach adulthood safely.
Robert Wiskind, M.D.
Sandy Springs resident
Partner, Peachtree Park Pediatrics
President, Georgia chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics