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(Madison, WI) – A report from the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families finds that
Wisconsin is not making progress in reducing the number of children killed by guns. Wisconsin
had made significant headway in keeping children safe from firearms prior to 2010, but since,
the number of children killed each year has stayed fairly level.
In 2015, 20 children in Wisconsin were killed with guns. This brings the total number of children in Wisconsin killed with guns between the years 1999 and 2015 to 428. Homicides made up just under half of the gun-related child deaths in Wisconsin firearms over this period, or 48% of the total. Another 45% of the deaths were suicide. Accidental deaths made up seven percent of the total.
The characteristics of children killed by guns vary by race and ethnicity. Guns are the third
leading cause of injury death for Wisconsin children overall, and the leading cause of injury
deaths for African American children. 71% of white-non Hispanic children killed with guns in
Wisconsin die from suicide—including children from rural areas of the state. Meanwhile,
children of color are more likely to die from homicide than suicide.
Ken Taylor, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, points out
that this issue is complex but there are multiple things communities can do to keep children safe. “Communities must work together to find solutions so that no child is killed by a gun,” said Taylor. “These solutions will vary from community to community, but ultimately, we need to be investing in children, families, and communities to ensure they are safe and healthy. Things like improving access to mental health care, reducing violence in communities by expanding economic opportunity, and funding violence-prevention programs can all help play a big role in reducing the number of kids killed by guns.”
Suicide and violence prevention are key to reducing the number of children killed by guns in
Wisconsin. Cheryl Wittke of Safe Communities Madison-Dane County, believes the solution to
reducing the number of children killed by self-inflicted, intentional injuries is simple: reduce
access to firearms.
“Research has shown that we can prevent youth suicides by reducing youth access to firearms. Because most suicides are impulsive, putting time between a young person’s suicidal thoughts and their access to a gun can deter many tragedies,” said Wittke.
Jennifer Rosen Heinz, Madison Local Group Leader of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense,
echoes Wittke and strongly urges adults to play their role in keeping kids safe and away from
“We can reduce the suicides and unintentional shootings which occur when children get ahold of an unsecured firearm,” said Heinz. “As responsible adults, it is up to us to make sure that
children do not have access to guns in their home by keeping all firearms unloaded, locked, and ammunition stored separately and locked. We also encourage adults to ask about unsecured guns in other homes that their child may visit”
The report also calls for federal lawmakers to fund studies on gun violence and the best ways to prevent it, but federal lawmakers have long refused to allocate such funds.
To view the full report visit: http://www.wccf.org/publication/death-toll-wisconsin-children-