For decades, our leaders have failed to protect children, not guns—and a growing number of children are paying with their lives. Gun violence is now the leading cause of death for all children and teens ages 1-19. In 2019, 3,371 children and teens died from guns—enough to fill 168 classrooms of 20 children. While mass shootings grab fleeting public and policymaker attention, routine gunfire kills more children every week than the Columbine, Sandy Hook, and Parkland massacres combined. Children of color continue to face the greatest risk. Black children and teens are four times more likely to die from gun violence than their white peers. Enough is enough. It is time to stop the killing of children in America.
All children in America should be guaranteed the right to live, learn and grow up safely—free from violence and fear. CDF envisions a nation where children and teens feel safe in their communities and classrooms and leaders at all levels protect children, not guns.
We work to demand elected officials protect children, not guns by advocating for common sense gun safety and gun violence prevention measures. To ensure all children a safe start and future, we must:
- Implement Universal Background Checks: Current federal law does not require background checks for gun sales at gun shows, on the internet or between private individuals. Background checks do not prevent legal gun purchases but they could prevent child and teen gun deaths. We must extend background check requirements to cover all gun sales.
- Prohibit Firearm Access for High-Risk Groups: We must keep guns out of the hands of those who would use them to harm children, families and communities. People convicted of domestic abuse or other violent crimes should have restricted gun access.
- Enact Child Access Prevention Laws: Child and teen gun deaths are preventable and child access prevention laws can reduce accidental shootings of children by as much as 23 percent. We must require that guns be stored safely so children and teens cannot access them unsupervised.
- Require Child Safety Features for Every Gun: It is outrageous that the Consumer Product Safety Commission can regulate the sale and manufacture of teddy bears and toy guns but not real guns. We must subject all guns to safety regulations, including childproof safety and child lock requirements.
- Ban Assault Weapons: Military-style weapons have no place in our communities. We must ban assault weapons, high-capacity ammunition magazines, and other devices which allow shooters to increase the rate of fire in semi-automatic weapons.
- Fund Gun Violence Prevention Research: To tackle the gun violence epidemic in America, citizens need more information, not more guns. We must increase federal funding for research on gun violence and its causes.