CARTER HILL, age 4, was strapped in his car seat and being driven down the highway when he was shot in the head in a road rage incident on Aug. 6. What is just as horrifying is that Carter was one of at least 10 children who was shot in the United States that day. Daily gun violence that maims and kills children is par for the course in this country, and that is the most terrible thing of all.
The struggle to save Carter’s life and the cost of his near-fatal injuries were detailed by The Post’s John Woodrow Cox in the latest installment of a searing series that examines the impact of violence on children. Shot just before midnight in a car driven by his mother, the boy was among the last victims of a stretch of gun violence that day that included a 2-year-old who fatally shot himself in Missouri after he got hold of a gun, a 16-year-old girl killed in Virginia by a bullet meant for someone else and a 14-year-old boy shot to death as he stood on his porch in Chicago.
Analysis by The Post of the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission showed that on average, 23 children were shot each day in the United States in 2015. Of the approximately 8,400 shootings, 1,458 were fatal, a death toll that exceeds the entire number of U.S. military fatalities in Afghanistan this decade. The Post’s analysis is in keeping with previous studies, including a report published in June in Pediatrics, that have established gun-related deaths as the third-leading cause of death overall among Americans ages 1 to 17.
The impact of gun violence on children — including the trauma to children who survive or witness it — represents a crisis, a serious public-health problem that demands attention. That, as one emergency-room doctor observed, “people just don’t want to talk about it” is due in large measure to a national gun lobby that has used its clout to shut down debate and close off consideration of basic and sensible protections that enjoy widespread support. Instead of enacting legislation to require safe storage of firearms — a move that would save countless lives lost to teen suicides and accidental shootings by toddlers — members of Congress who are compliant to the National Rifle Association push unrestricted sales of silencers because of the supposed health crisis to the hearing of hunters.
The surgeon who successfully operated on Carter has treated at least 30 children struck by gunfire in his career. His first night as a neurosurgery intern in 2011 saw the case of a 17-year-old who had been shot “clean through” the back of the head. “There’s nothing we can do,” the doctor recalls telling the boy’s mother. Congress doesn’t have that excuse.