The most important test for any society is the way it takes care of its children.
Not only did we fail the families of Newtown, Conn., but every year we fail the families of the 30 to 40 young people who are killed by firearms in South Carolina. Firearm-related casualties are among the top three causes of death among youth in the United States.
We as pediatricians counsel parents about the importance of gun safety as well as other threats to their children's well-being. But broad policy changes must accompany these efforts. Addressing the availability and ubiquity of guns that are capable of causing mass casualties is essential in reducing firearm-related morbidity.
The American Academy of Pediatrics last year concluded that "the absence of guns from children's homes and communities is the most reliable and effective measure to prevent firearm-related injuries in children and adolescents."
No evidence supports the belief that the increased availability of guns would effectively reduce firearm deaths in schools and elsewhere. At a minimum, urgent action should be taken to eliminate the availability of assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips.
We need to prioritize evidence-based strategies to reduce firearm deaths without political interference. Congress should immediately reverse all existing statutory bans on firearm-related research and embark on wide-ranging efforts to fund effective gun-related studies.
Children don't need more political rhetoric; they need thoughtful, evidence-based consideration of firearm-related deaths and their prevention.
Our children deserve for us to take their safety seriously.
Dr. Francis E. Rushton, M.D.