Carter Hill, age 4, was strapped in his car seat and being driven down the highway when he was shot in the head in a road-rage incident on Aug. 6. What is just as horrifying is that Carter was one of at least 10 children who was shot in the U.S. that day.
The struggle to save Carter’s life and the cost of his near-fatal injuries were detailed by the Washington Post in the latest installment of a searing series that examines the impact of violence on children. Analysis by the Post of the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission showed that on average, 23 children were shot each day in the U.S. in 2015. Of the approximately 8,400 shootings, 1,458 were fatal, a death toll that exceeds the entire number of U.S. military fatalities in Afghanistan this decade. The Post’s analysis is in keeping with previous studies, including a report published in June in Pediatrics, that have established gun-related deaths as the third-leading cause of death overall among Americans ages 1 to 17.
The impact of gun violence on children — including the trauma to children who survive or witness it — represents a crisis, a serious public-health problem that demands attention. That, as one emergency-room doctor observed, “people just don’t want to talk about it” is due in large measure to a national gun lobby that has used its clout to shut down debate and close off consideration of basic and sensible protections that enjoy widespread support.
The surgeon who successfully operated on Carter has treated at least 30 children struck by gunfire in his career. His first night as a neurosurgery intern in 2011 saw the case of a 17-year-old who had been shot “clean through” the back of the head. “There’s nothing we can do,” the doctor recalls telling the boy’s mother.
Congress doesn’t have that excuse.
FROM AN EDITORIAL IN THE WASHINGTON POST