Although it drew little attention, the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) recently issued a statement that “reinforced its long-standing message that the safest home for children and teens is one without guns, while maintaining that it is not an ‘anti-gun’ organization.” The AAP’s original guidance issued in 2000 called for bans on handguns and so-called “assault weapons.” Interestingly, the updated statement calls for restoration of the ban on the latter and leaves out handguns with an evidently disappointed aside “…recognizing that gun ownership is legal and common…”
AAP actually did concede that firearms related deaths have declined, but continues to claim that “…firearms still one of the top three causes of death in the pediatric population, which it now defines as ages 1 to 19. The minimum age for enlistment in the United States Military is 17 (with parental consent) and 18 (without parental consent).
Yet, the National Safety Council’s 2012 “Injury Facts” shows that the cause for accidental fatalities for the young ranks behind (in order) motor vehicles, drowning, poisoning, fires, falls, choking, suffocation, and all other events constituting about 1.3 percent of these numbers. Here I would note that the serious and sustained work of the NSSF and many other groups have helped push this number down with many proven and practical safety and educational programs. The National Safety Council figures also show, thankfully, that firearms accidents have steadily decreased to their lowest numbers in over a century.
With approximately 300 million firearms in private ownership, the total number of accidental deaths involving firearms in this entire age group was 123, a record low, with 61 occurring in the 15-19 age cohort. The total number of suicides involving firearms in this entire age group was 748, with 698 occurring in the 15-19 age bracket. The total number of homicides involving firearms in this entire age group was 2,037, with 1,785 occurring in the 15-19 age bracket. As you might expect, this older age group, hardly “children,” are involved with the vast majority of “pediatric” misuses of firearms.
Every death is a tragedy, we agree, but the AAP is supposed to base its guidance on science. One would hope a group with such prestige would want to concentrate its efforts then on those things that would really make the most difference in preventing the deaths of children. What we see instead is “reinforced” guidance with even less weight behind it than we saw 12 years ago. The organization’s institutional and stubborn anti-gun agenda is clearly on display, their protestations to the contrary notwithstanding.
The American Academy of Pediatrics claims that it is not anti-gun – it just doesn’t want people to own any.