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For Immediate Release
June 26, 2008


For More Information Contact:
Ed Shelleby
(202) 662-3602


WASHINGTON, D.C.— Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) General Counsel Susan Gates today released the following statement concerning the Supreme Court’s decision in the District of Columbia v. Heller case, which struck down Washington, D.C.’s decades-old handgun ban. Earlier this year, CDF and several other organizations submitted an amicus curiae brief to the Supreme Court urging the Justices to uphold the ban.

“The Children’s Defense Fund is disappointed with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to strike down D.C.’s handgun ban. Laws such as the D.C. ban not only provide reasonable restrictions, but also are critical to protecting children and teens who are extremely vulnerable to gun violence, as highlighted by CDF’s recently released gun report, Protect Children, Not Guns.

“The gun report reveals that in 2005, the most recent year for which data are available, 3,006 children and teens were killed by firearms, marking the first increase of children and teens killed by gun violence since 1994. It is also the first rise in firearm deaths of children and teens since Congress allowed the Assault Weapons Ban to expire in 2004.

In 2005, more preschoolers were killed by guns than were law enforcement officers in the line of duty.

  • The number of children and teens killed by guns in 2005 would fill 120 public school classrooms of 25 students each.
  • Eight children and teens are killed each day by gun violence, a death toll that is the equivalent of one Northern Illinois University shooting every 15 hours or one Virginia Tech massacre every four days.
  • Additionally, more than five times as many children and teens suffered non-fatal gun injuries in 2005.

“While this decision will have a devastating impact on D.C.’s handgun laws, the Supreme Court did recognize that ‘the Second Amendment is not unlimited’ and that prohibitions on possession and use of handguns are constitutional. Federal, state and local governments must enact laws to prohibit use of handguns by and around children and youth to stop tragic deaths and injuries. We also must urge Congress to enact common sense gun safety measures by requiring criminal background checks on those who purchase guns from unlicensed gun dealers. Finally, we must confront America’s culture of violence by stressing more non-violent values and conflict resolution. In light of the Supreme Court’s decision, every citizen must take action to help ensure our children a safe future.”

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