Responding to shootings this weekend in the United States, in Pleasantville, New Jersey and Paradise Hills, San Diego, Amnesty International USA’s End Gun Violence campaign manager, Ernest Coverson said:
“On the heels of the preventable tragedy in Santa Clarita this week, this country is once again in pain as children bear the brunt of inaction in Congress. For our country’s leaders to continue to fail to take any action on gun violence prevention is damning.
“Blood from these shootings lies squarely in the hands of Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, who has refused to take any action as children as young as 3 suffer the consequences.
“The time for words is over. It’s well past time to act – elected officials from across the country must finally take a stand to pass common-sense legislation that will help deter these tragedies.”
Amnesty International USA’s report, In The Line of Fire, examines how gun violence impacts children all across the U.S.. High rates of gun ownership, weak gun violence prevention laws and readily available (often unsupervised) firearms, make U.S. children much more vulnerable to death through gun violence than children in other high-income countries. U.S. states with the highest rates of gun ownership also have the highest rates of gun death, including among children.
Nearly 40% of children in the U.S. exposed to a shooting develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Nearly 60% of high school seniors in the U.S. report fears of a shooting in their school or community. Even if a child survives a gun-related incident, long-term exposure to gun violence can lead to numerous developmental problems, including impairment of brain function, inability to focus, trouble following directions, difficulties retaining and utilizing memory and difficulties engaging in organizational and decision-making tasks. They are also more susceptible to a range of mental health issues such as anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. If not adequately addressed, these issues often cause long term problems including performance issues at school, issues with finding and keeping a job, physical health problems, trust issues in developing relationships, and violent and aggressive behavior.
This week, Amnesty International USA was in Ecuador for an Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) hearing focusing on survivors of gun violence in the United States. Amnesty International USA’s testimony focus on much needed international attention to the urgent and escalating problem of gun violence in the United States, which has become so prevalent that it amounts to a human rights crisis.