Newsroom image of kids

Child Watch® Column: "We Cannot Stop Until Children Stop Dying from Gun Violence"

Release Date: January 25, 2013

Marian Wright Edelman

On Saturday, January 26, I and many others will gather on the National Mall for the March on Washington for Gun Control. We are calling on members of Congress and state legislators to pass common sense gun safety laws to stop the epidemic of preventable child and adult gun deaths. Others are marching in Boston, San Francisco, Chicago, San Antonio, Jersey City, and in communities across the country. Grassroots groups are coming together in the wake of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Mothers and fathers, grandparents, pastors, gun violence survivors, law enforcement officers, elected officials, child advocates, and everyone who believes that our children’s right to live, learn and grow up safely must be protected before guns, must not stop marching, calling, writing, and visiting and holding our political leaders accountable. We must vote them out if they do not act to end the preventable and immoral loss of child and human lives and honor what most Americans want and our children need.

A new Gallup poll shows that most Americans support universal background checks for gun buyers, a ban on assault weapons, limiting ammunition magazines to 10 rounds or less, and other proposals in President Obama’s Plan to Reduce Gun Violence. It will be a formidable fight to achieve these essential steps but we can and will succeed if all of us raise an irresistible and unrelenting voice in every state in the weeks and months to come, and for as long as it takes.

Don’t let anyone tell you current gun safety regulations are working just fine. They aren’t. The massacre at Sandy Hook woke up many Americans to the epidemic of gun violence which has snuffed out the lives of 148,000 children since 1968 – this is the equivalent of 7,400 classrooms of 20 children and teens. Every 30 minutes a child or teen is shot in the United States. Every 3 hours and 15 minutes a child dies from gun violence. It’s time to say “no more.”

Epidemic gun violence against children—and its toll on all who live in the United States—is a uniquely American phenomenon. In 2010 the U.S. gun death rate— homicides, suicides, and accidents—for children and teens was nearly 65 times higher than the rates in the United Kingdom and Germany and 108 times higher than in Spain. The U.S. gun homicide rate for children and teens was 106 times higher than the rate in Germany and 213 times higher than the rates in Spain and the United Kingdom.

The reason gun deaths are a huge epidemic in the United States is simple: it’s the guns and the permissive gun laws that protect them. In a 2007 study of 178 countries by the Geneva-based Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, the U.S. ranked number one in the number of guns per person (88.8 per 100), far ahead of all the other countries in the study. Yemen was a distant runner-up with 55 guns per 100 people, 40 percent less than the U.S. rate.

Although the U.S. accounts for less than five percent of the global population, Americans own an estimated 35 to 50 percent of all civilian-owned guns in the world. Between 270-300 million guns are in civilian hands in the U.S. – nearly one gun for every man, woman, and child. Our nation is saturated with guns and the National Rifle Association wants more and more.

We can free our nation of this scourge of gun violence. No external enemy ever took the lives of so many children and adults. We can and must change this. I am confident that most Americans value children’s safety and right to live more than they value the right of anyone to have assault weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines. If America can’t stand up for its children, it doesn’t stand for anything.

Marian Wright Edelman is President of the Children's Defense Fund whose Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities. For more information go to

Mrs. Edelman's Child Watch Column also appears each week on The Huffington Post.

Sign-up to receive CDF President Marian Wright Edelman's weekly Child Watch Column.

Let us know what you think about this column:

Enter this word: Change

Here's what others have said:

Submitted by Deb at: February 1, 2013
I can't believe our country is protecting guns while throwing our children to the assassins. The time to outlaw assault guns and rifles and high capacity magazines is now and long ago.

Submitted by Steve Wayles at: February 1, 2013
Our love affair with guns is killing our kids. Thanks, Marian, for telling it like it is - and for offering an alternative for what it could be if we are willing to change.

Submitted by Steve at: January 31, 2013
No "solution" will be foolproof but the "law of averages" will be to our advantage after we get mental health services up to snuff and we ban military hardware and large clips. The level of mayhem will be substantially decreased.

Submitted by Anonymous at: January 30, 2013
Guns per say are not the problem - people are. Preventing security personnel and other appropriate people from having guns in schools will not solve the problem because criminals will still get the weapons they desire to have. We need physical protection in many places so that gun-free zones are not targets for those who do violence. Additionally, things are not going to get better in this country until we, as a country, starting with individuals and families, from the poorest and least powerful to the wealthiest and most powerful, truly come back to God and Godly values.

Submitted by erik at: January 29, 2013
remember that guns really do kill people. registration and legal ownership is all we ask. being required to lock them up is all we ask. not being able to kill more than 10 people at a time without reloading is all we ask. arguments?

Submitted by sam at: January 29, 2013
Back round checks and gun registration are good ideas. Making gun owners responsible for their guns like people are held resposible for their automobiles maybe requiring liability insurance like with your car. But the most effective way to slow down the rate of gun violence is for each and every community to intervene in the lives of the communities' children- providing preventative services to help reduce child abuse and neglect, substance abuse, spousal abuse, improve physical and mental health, assure adequate housing and nutrition and provide effective education. This can be done by using programs that work with at risk families and children to prevent the rage and violence from turning into suicide and homicide and wrecked lives.

Submitted by Joy at: January 28, 2013
I appreciate your passion and honesty.

Submitted by stateofmissouri at: January 28, 2013
I am an American and I do stand up for my Second Amendment right to protect children. The bad guys will always have the guns. You can march and march until finally some day all of the good and decent people are disarmed and all of the evil and rotten people still have their guns, knives, machetes, and bombs. We, the good citizens of the United States, are then left pretty much helpless to defend our families. Many of those that call for disarming us, usually have body guards or live in affluent communities where they have much less to worry about in regard to crime. Or they are simply uninformed. I just encourage you to look at the true facts. In every city where strict gun control laws are imposed on law abiding citizens, crime is rampant. The bad guys know they have less to fear when decent citizens are unarmed. You can march until the moon comes over the mountain and you may finally win and and the good citizens will lose their constitutional right to keep and bear arms. But guess what! The bad guys will ALWAYS have access to firearms. Think people!!!

Submitted by my child is a hunter at: January 28, 2013
People kill people.....not the guns.

Submitted by Concerned at: January 28, 2013
It's not the guns that kill its the person using the gun. You take the guns from the lawbiding citizen the criminals will get their guns anyway.

Submitted by at: January 28, 2013
01/27/2013 Dear Citizens, There was discussion awhile back with Woman and a Presidencial Candidate [Forbes]; he was snickering in 2007 as he was stating everything was "wonderful" and the Woman was explaining there were "Three Americas;" the Rich, The Middleclass, and the Poor. This is an incorrect statement. There a Fourth America---The Invissible [one of many examples---the Unemployed that are no longer are counted]. Now, who do you think need the guns in America. If your answer is no one---you must come to my City Phoenix---I will park you on a street at night where the cops get shot at every night [Media under-investigates this problem on the I-17 corridor]. If your Answer is only Law Enforcement---what happenes when Cops go bad---Ex. Cleveland cops selling Drugs? Or In Phoenix when the disposal of Drugs becomes a center for re-distribution? The People must have the ability to restore order when officials are paid off by Big Corporations like Mercedes or Siemens [Both paid hefty fines recently for bribery---also very Under-investigated]. Yes no doubt we have a problems but the root causes are caused by the Failure of Justice Department attacking White Collar Crime something William Fahey expressed back in 1992 Congressional Compaign when he was my U.S. Attorney who really did a terrible Job [Treason Case 1998 Cox Report authored by the U.S. Congress]. Just look at what Frontline dished out last week about the Banks and the US Prosecutors---makes you wonder why we print ourselves into Bankruptcy. Soon, this will be a moot issue, as it was on April 29th, 1992 in Los Angeles---just days before the Civil Unrest--resulting in Governor Pete Wilson deploying the National Guard for Several Days with Machine Guns at the ready. The Freedom of the Press is what is lacking---even Sean on Fox News has openly made this statement. No Free Press---No Country. Now you what to lock up the Guns? Federal Reserve Charter, 100 year contract, is due this year---should we renew it? Last time we did not 1811-----Rothschild burnt down the White House using the English and French, in 1812. So Enjoy the direction we are going in it will take a miracle to turn this around. Sincerely, Don Karg

Submitted by amalie at: January 27, 2013
Guns are not the killers!!!!

Submitted by Steph at: January 27, 2013
I am very heartened someone is speaking up and willing to take on the NRA

Submitted by Virg Daniel at: January 27, 2013
Actually, the reason gun violence is epidemic is the breakdown of the family and family values, values rooted (as our Founders so rightly noted) in a "firm reliance on Divine Providence." God is missing from our schools and other public institutions. Secular humanism has replaced Divine Providence as the core against we evaluate society. Guns are not violent - people are! Guns are inanimate objects; a human being activates their potential. Until we address that issue, there will be gun violence as bad/evil/deranged/angry/etc. people will always find a gun. No law, no policy will ever prevent that. Indeed, the more we restrict law-abiding citizens - restrict their Constitutional and civil right - the more prone society will be the victim of gun violence. Let's get both our priorities and our understanding of who is the victim back in the realm of common sense and rationality and out of the realm of emotionalism and knee jerk reaction. If government wants a role in all this, then government should reassert its oversight of the truly mentally disturbed and get out of the lives of the law-abiding and constructive citizenry. We are all moved by tragedy. What we need to address is the true disease rather than continue to seek to deal with symptoms. You want social justice? Then, protect the law-abiding from those who seek to disrupt social order for their own evil and misguided ends.

Submitted by Pat at: January 27, 2013
I support your efforts and that of our President on gun control. I sign every petition I receive to stop the violence on our young. It is ashame that the NRA has such control over our Congressmen when they are running for office. Money is definitely the root of all evil. Money silence the ones who should be our supporters. Shame on them!!! I am sending this article to my friends.

Submitted by drouida at: January 27, 2013
I was unable to be in Washington, but I was praying for the success of the March. I am supportive of your initiatives to strengthen the gun laws in America and will be in touch with my Representatives in Washington in that regard.

Submitted by Leslie at: January 27, 2013
I live in Connecticut,and have submitted comments to the State about further Gun Regulation here. I also wrote about School Safety. I will be taking a bus to Hartford (with many others)on Feb.14 about Gun Control. It needs to be National to be effective.

Submitted by cheryl at: January 26, 2013
this needs to share on CNN and or ABC 20/20. the numbers are just crazy.

Submitted by Judy at: January 26, 2013
Thank you, Marian Wright Edelman.

Submitted by GrandmaO at: January 26, 2013
I agree that most Americans value children’s safety and right to live more than they value the right of anyone to have assault weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines. If America can’t stand up for its children, it doesn’t stand for anything. We need to protect our children and ban these weapons!