According to a shocking new report from the North Carolina Child Fatality Task Force, the state commission that studies child deaths, in 2021 children here were 51% more likely to die from gun violence than children in the U.S. as a whole.
North Carolina Child Fatality Task Force Executive Director Kella Hatcher said the spike in children’s firearm deaths started in 2020 when many people purchased guns in response to the pandemic and the civil unrest over the murder of George Floyd.
The report found 93 children in North Carolina died of homicide and 62 died of suicide in 2021 with over 70% of those deaths caused by a lethal firearm. This is a dramatic increase over previous years.
Research shows most children who use a gun to commit suicide get that gun from their home. A CDC student survey found 30% of kids in North Carolina said they could obtain and be ready to fire a loaded gun within an hour – without a parent’s permission.
The report makes a host of recommendations to reduce the incidents of child deaths including a recommendation to allocate recurring funds to increase the number of school nurses, social workers, counselors and psychologists to support the physical and mental health of students. This same recommendation is also included in the Leandro report that Republican lawmakers continue to ignore despite multiple court orders to comply.
The report’s findings are a wake-up call for North Carolina leaders to take immediate action to address the problem of gun violence and to protect the state’s children. Time will tell if our GOP lawmakers will once again prioritize tax cuts for corporations over ensuring the health and safety of our kids, but their track record so far is not encouraging.