One of the most highly debated issues in American politics right now is that of gun violence and how to handle it properly — but you don’t need to be told that. Chances are you watch the news, use social media, and watch the policy wars waged around every mass shooting.
However, something not often talked about is the role of guns and firearms in childhood domestic violence. Children’s lives are damaged, ruined, and sometimes lost at the hands of close family and friends who wield these weapons at home. It’s crucial we don’t overlook the role of firearm abuse when talking about the safety of our children, and so with that we choose to examine the issue.
What Do the Stats Say?
In a recent study conducted by Katherine Fowler of the CDC, it was discovered that 5,800 U.S. children are wounded by gunshots each year, and 1,300 children are killed. It was reported in the same study that over half of these instances are homicides, most of which happen in the context of domestic violence.
With that in mind we know that thousands of children are suffering from domestic violence involving guns and firearms. Children don’t just die from guns in extreme cases like school shootings, but in home violence cases at the hands of people they know. The gun control discussion suddenly gets more complicated when talking about the lives of children in their own homes. Were there ways to stop these abusers from obtaining guns? Could we have seen any red flags? Childhood domestic homicide happening in the safety of one’s home brings the conversation closer to many of our own hearts.
Guns Begetting Guns
Crazy or not, children who grow up with guns are more likely to use them later in life. It’s not too much of a secret that many domestic abusers were themselves victims of domestic violence early in life. Domestic violence is a pattern, and gun violence in such a context can be as well.
Domestic violence begets domestic violence, and aggressive behavior begets aggressive behavior. Gun violence and aggression with a gun can be passed down by example, as well as habits and patterns when done to a child or in front of a child.
Those children who end up using guns in violent circumstances before the age of 18 often obtain them from home. It’s probable, in light of all these things, that carelessness or aggressiveness in relation to guns is a learned attitude. Furthermore, children who grow up in violent homes often have problems with substance abuse, mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety; and physical problems including heart disease and chronic pain.
What Should We Be Doing About It?
Currently, registered domestic abusers cannot own guns. However, some of them are nonetheless fighting for their rights to own a gun. If they succeed, some studies say domestic violence victims’ lives could be at risk up to five times more than already! While tensions around the topic of gun rights increase, we cannot lose sight of what this would mean for the safety of our children, especially since this is already an issue to worry about.
First of all, we should be talking about solutions to gun violence in general. We cannot let this become a taboo subject, as people’s lives depend on it! Second, seeking practical solutions to gun violence and halting those who should not have guns from being able to own them — such as former abusers — is a must. Third, empowering social workers seeking solutions to domestic violence and training them to see signs of gun violence being threatened in the home is also important. We need our ears and eyes ready to act before gun violence occurs so lives are not lost.
If you are a child or person under 18 experiencing dangers of gun violence at home, please contact a local authority or person you can trust. If you are an adult or person over 18 who thinks gun violence is being threatened on children in your life or near you, please contact the authorities.