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Young children are often victims of gunfire in US
Created on Friday, 28 December 2012 10:00 Last Updated on Tuesday, 01 January 2013 14:22 Published on Friday, 28 December 2012 10:00 Written by Monika Mathur Associated Press Writer Hits: 1845
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Angel was cradled in his father's arms on a sidewalk near their home in Los Angeles when a bicyclist rode by on June 4 and opened fire, killing the infant.
Most media reports don't include information on the type of gun used, sometimes because police withhold it for investigation purposes.
Gun violence and the toll it is taking on children has been an issue raised for years in minority communities.
The NAACP failed in its attempt to hold gun makers accountable through a lawsuit filed in 1999. Some in the community raised the issue during the campaign and asked Obama after he was re-elected to make reducing gun violence, particularly as a cause of death for young children, part of his second-term agenda.
"Now that it's clear that no community in this country is invulnerable from gun violence, from its children being stolen ... we can finally have the national conversation we all need to have," said Ben Jealous, president of the NAACP.
This year's gun deaths reviewed by the AP show the problem is not confined to the inner city or is simply the result of gang or drug violence, as often is the perception.
Faith Ehlen, 22 months, Autumn Cochran, 10, and Alyssa Cochran, 11, all died Sept. 6. Their mother killed them with the shotgun before turning it on herself. Police said she had written a goodbye email to her boyfriend before killing the children in DeSoto, Mo., a community of about 6,300.
In Dundee, Ore., Randall Engels used a gun to kill his estranged wife Amy Engels and son Jackson, 11, as they ate pizza on the Fourth of July. An older sibling of Jackson's also was killed. Engels then committed suicide. The town of more than 5,000 people boasts on its website that it is a semirural town with "the cultural panache of a big city."
Many of the children who died in 2012 were shot with guns that belonged to their parents, relatives or baby sitters, or were simply in the home. Webster said children's accidental deaths by guns have fallen since states passed laws requiring that guns be locked away from youths or have safeties to keep them from firing.
But even people trained in gun use slip up — and the mistakes are costly.
A Springville, Utah, police officer had a non-service gun in his home that officials said did not have external safeties. His 2-year-old son found the gun and shot himself on Sept. 11. The names of the father and son were not released at the time of the shooting.
Obama has tapped Vice President Joe Biden to shape the administration's response to the Newtown massacre. The administration will push to tighten gun laws, many that have faced resistance in Congress for years. The solutions may include reinstating a ban on assault-style rifles, closing gun buying background check loopholes and restricting high-capacity magazines.
Those may have limited effect for children like Amari Markel-Purrel Perkins, of Clinton, Md. He shot himself in the chest on April 9 with a gun that an adult had stashed inside a Spiderman backpack.
Like most of the child victims at Newtown, Amari was 6.
(Follow Suzanne Gamboa at http://www.twitter.com/APsgamboa)
(Follow Monika Mathur at http://www.twiter.com/@monikamathur)
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