New Children's Defense Fund Report Shows Children and Teen Firearm Deaths Increase for First Time Since 1994

For Immediate Release
July 9, 2008
For More Information Contact:
Ed Shelleby
(202) 662-3602


WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Children's Defense Fund's 2008 report Protect Children, Not Guns tracks the first increase in the number of gun deaths among children and teens since 1994. Based on the most recent data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the report released today shows that 3,006 children and teens died in 2005 from firearms after more than a decade of decline. Trenton, N.J. Mayor Douglas H. Palmer, President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors; Washington, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty; and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence join CDF in calling for reasonable gun restrictions that protect children and communities.

"Imagine a tragedy like the Virginia Tech shooting occurring every four days, or a Northern Illinois shooting happening every 15 hours," said CDF President Marian Wright Edelman. "As implausible as it might seem, this is our reality: guns kill 8 children and teens every day in America. In 2005, guns killed more preschoolers than law enforcement officers in the line of duty. It is time to stop this senseless dying among children and teens. Our children will be less vulnerable and our communities safer if guns are less readily available. It's simply time to reject this culture of violence."

This news comes in advance of the U.S. Supreme Court decision on D.C. v. Heller—commonly known as the D.C. Handgun Ban case—in which the Court will address the Second Amendment for the first time in over 70 years. The Court's decision, expected this month, will likely have a significant impact on how effectively cities and communities can regulate firearms.

"This report only reinforces what mayors across the country have been witnessing for years-gun violence out of control in our nation's cities," said Mayor Palmer. "It is a national crisis that a child or teen is killed by guns every 3 hours somewhere in America. But this problem IS solvable if everyone plays a role. We must support reasonable restrictions on guns to limit the number of illegal guns in our communities and to make certain they don't fall into the wrong hands. Our cities—and our children—cannot wait any longer."

"I stand with the Children's Defense Fund in supporting our gun control laws and raising awareness of the silent epidemic of gun violence affecting so many children and families across the country," said Mayor Fenty. "The District's handgun laws have saved countless lives. We need to protect our residents, particularly our most vulnerable residents: our children."

"The Children's Defense Fund's gun report demonstrates the devastating impact gun violence has on our nation, particularly our nation's children," said Paul Helmke, President of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. "Guns fall too easily into the wrong hands because, in most states, there are few or no laws to prevent gun violence. And with the pending Supreme Court decision, the essential protections for our nation's children and families are in danger of being undermined. We must work together to support and pass gun legislation that protects those we've promised to keep safe."

Protect Children, Not Guns documents the high toll of gun violence on our society:

  • The number of children and teens killed by guns in 2005 would fill 120 public school classrooms of 25 students each;
  • A Black male has a 1 in 72 chance of being killed by a firearm by his 30th birthday while a While male has a 1 in 344 chance;
  • California led with 474 gun deaths among children and teens in 2005; Texas, was second with 264, followed by Florida with 148, Pennsylvania with 138 and Illinois with 130.
  • Since 1979, firearms killed 104,419 children and teens.

The report recommends what individuals, communities and policymakers can do to reverse the increase in gun violence. It calls on Congress to pass common sense gun safety measures that will help decrease the availability of guns and ensure they don't fall into the wrong hands; communities to organize nonviolent conflict resolution support groups, and families to remove guns from their homes as the presence of firearms increases the risk of homicide and suicide in the home.

To view a copy of Protect Children, Not Guns in its entirety and additional online tools, visit