Child advocate: 94 children killed by guns since 2001

Ninety-four children were killed by gunshot wounds from 2001 through 2012, and 924 were injured by guns in that time, according to a report released Monday by the Office of the Child Advocate.

Twenty of the 94 children who died were first graders killed last month at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The deaths of the other 74 more closely reflect gun deaths among children nationwide — single incidents with victims who are male adolescents 15 and older who are more likely to be black and Hispanic, according to the report.

It was released the same day as a public hearing on gun violence prevention held by the legislative panel established in response to the Sandy Hook killings.

“Policy changes to prevent deaths and injuries of children by guns will need to address the different contexts and contributing factors,” state Child Advocate Jamey Bell said. “Turning the tide won’t be easy or quick, but focused and sustained efforts of all stakeholders and systems that touch children will allow all our children to grow safely into adulthood.”

Of the gun deaths, 44 occurred in Hartford, New Haven and Bridgeport. Thirty-four victims were between ages 2 and 14 — including the 20 Sandy Hook pupils, who were 6 and 7 — and 60 were between ages 15 and 17. Seventy-five of the deaths were homicides, while 16 were suicides and 2 were accidental, while in one case, the manner of death remains undetermined.

The 924 gun-related injuries represented 11.6 percent of all gun-related injuries in the state, according to the report. Nearly all — 88.3 percent — occurred among boys, and 94 percent occurred among those aged 12 to 17. Just over 6 in 10 of the victims were black, while 14 percent were Hispanic and 10 percent were white.

Compared to deaths, the injuries were even more heavily concentrated among Hartford, New Haven and Bridgeport — 63 percent.

The report pointed to the need for more information about the underlying issues behind gun injuries and deaths. A lack of financial support has prevented the state from participating in the CDC’s National Violence Prevention Network and the National Violent Death Reporting System, it said.

“Research needs to focus on both the devastating but relatively more rare mass shootings and the much more frequent gun incidents that occur in towns, and overwhelmingly in large cities, across Connecticut,” the report said.

It had four recommendations:

–       Support state and national research to understand the root causes of gun violence and how to prevent it.

–       Strengthen the state’s assault weapons ban and increase requirements for background checks, registration, storage and safety, permits/licenses to carry, regulate gun shows, and prohibit the sale of guns and ammunition to Connecticut residents through the internet.

–       Support multidisciplinary efforts to support communities healing from gun violence and prevent future gun violence. The work should be collaborative and include people in law enforcement, mental health, social services, child welfare, education, the judicial system and public health.

–       Establish a long-term working group to evaluate the state’s community-based capacity to respond to traumatic events and help communities in developing strategies to prevent and respond to trauma.