Every year more than 20,000 children ages 0 to 19 are injured by guns, said Dr. David Jaffe, the medical director of emergency services at St. Louis Children's Hospital. Every day, seven of those injuries are fatal.
Jaffe's hospital treats an average of 70 kids a year with gunshot wounds.
In late March, an 11-year-old boy was killed in his home in south St. Louis when he was hit by bullets fired at his house. Less than a week later, an 11-year-old girl was shot and critically injured as she was coming home from a fast food restaurant with her father, he said.
The Newtown massacre has been seared in our collective memory. Gun violence involving teens in St. Louis, especially teens of color, is among the highest in the country. The emotion in Roxana, Ill., after an April Fool’s prank this week put local focus on the issue.
From school shootings to drive-bys to suicide, the level of exposure children in America today have to gun violence is in the news and on the minds of many. Because of this prevalence, some health care professionals contend that it has become a public health issue. Among them:
Local clergy, politicians and law enforcement joined together Friday to call for more action to curb gun violence in St. Louis.
The Missouri Conference AME Church is spearheading the effort, which includes a call for universal background checks; a ban on what they call assault weapons and high-capacity magazines; and federal investment in urban areas most affected by gun violence. Reverend Robert Shaw says it’s crucial for church leaders to take a stand on the issue.