This week two leaders of Women Against Gun Violence, Loren Lieb and Donna Finkelstein whose children were injured in the 1999 Los Angeles Jewish Community Center shooting, visited my synagogue’s senior staff to ask our synagogue community and schools to promote education and advocacy on behalf of gun safety.

Here are statistics showing the disastrous effects of gun violence on American lives (provided by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and Women Against Gun Violence):

Children (0-19 years)

• Every year on average – 17,499 American children and teens (0-19 years) are shot in murders, assaults, suicides & suicide attempts, unintentional shootings, or by police intervention – 2,677 kids die from gun violence – 14,822 kids survive gun injuries

• Every day on average – 48 children and teens are shot in murders, assaults, suicides & suicide attempts, unintentional shootings, and police intervention – 7 children and teens die from gun violence – 41 children and teens are shot and survive

All ages

• Every year on average – 108,476 people in America are shot in murders, assaults, suicides & suicide attempts, unintentional shootings, or by police intervention – 32,514 people die from gun violence – 75,962 people survive gun injuries

• Every day on average – 297 people in America are shot in murders, assaults, suicides & suicide attempts, unintentional shootings, and police intervention – 89 people die from gun violence – 208 people are shot and survive

Firearms are the 2nd leading cause of death for children and teens ages 1-19

A gun in the home is 22 times more likely to be used to kill or injure in a domestic homicide, suicide, or unintentional shooting than to be used in self-defense

Gun ownership in a country is a significant predictor of firearm homicide rates. For each percentage point increase in gun ownership, the firearm homicide rate increases by .9%.

There are 65 million more guns than adults in America.

Suicides account for 60% of gun deaths each year.

1 out of 3 homes with kids have guns and 1.7 million children live in a home with an unlocked, loaded gun

82% of firearm suicides among youth under 18 used a firearm belonging to a family member, usually a parent

76% of children ages 5-14 know where firearms are kept in the home

24% of students in grades 7-12 report having easy access to a gun in the home

29% of households with children younger than 12 fail to lock up their guns

33% of 8-12 year old boys who come across an unlocked handgun pick it up and pull the trigger

22% of children who live in a house with a gun handle a gun without their parents’ knowledge

50% of all unintentional shooting deaths among children occur at home – almost 50% occur in the home of a friend or relative

Millions of guns are sold every year in “no questions asked” transactions. 40% of guns now sold in America are done so without a Brady background check

The statistics of gun violence, killings and injuries are staggering. Is there anything we citizens can do to protect ourselves and our children better?

Here are suggestions offered by Women Against Gun Violence and the Brady Campaign Against Gun Violence:

1. The safest house is one without a gun – if you have a gun, lock it up, separate the weapon from ammunition, or get rid of it;

2. If you are a parent whose child has a play-date in a friend’s home, ask the child’s parent(s) before the play-date if there are guns in the home and if so, are they locked up? If not, do not allow your child to play at that house. Invite your child’s friend instead to play in your home;

3. Talk to your children about gun danger and gun safety. Tell them never to pick up a gun that they see lying around a house. Then they should tell an adult there is a gun. Then they should call you (their parents) and go home. Remind them frequently that guns can kill.

4. Talk to your teen-age children about attending parties where there may be unlocked guns. If they learn that there is an unlocked gun, they should follow the steps in item #3 above.

5. Invite Women Against Gun Violence to speak to parents and children in your child’s schools.

6. Display posters advocating gun safety in schools, synagogues and community buildings.

7. Fight the National Rifle Association (NRA) refusal to support reasonable gun safety legislation and don’t support any congressional, senate or presidential candidate who refuses to support the same.

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