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U.S. worst amongst peer countries in gun-related deaths of children: I’m sick of the politics. We need to do something.

It is June of 2023 and as of this writing, so far this year, nearly 3,000 kids in our country had a bullet penetrate their body. Money and politics mean nothing to those kids and their families. Unless you are defending yourself from terrorists, be rational. Let’s have a conversation. My son died from guns. A bullet traveled through the house and struck him in the head. At five years old, I held him in my arms as they turned off the machines and his spirit left this earth. I don’t want to take your guns away, but by God, we need safety nets in this country.

  • 8 months ago
  • June 20, 2023
Welcome to Orato World Media’s Op-Ed Section where we publish guest posts from influencers and individuals around the world on current trending topics and issues of interest to our readership. Today’s guest post is from T.R. Sherlock. T.R. is the author of the groundbreaking memoir newly released by NFB Publishing called A Song for Kalen: Lessons Learned from the Life and Death of my Son. T.R. holds degrees in Psychology, Clinical Psychology and English Literature. He has worked as a diagnostician and therapist in a residential children’s treatment center, a Child Protective Services Investigator, a service coordinator writing plans of actions for adults and children with disabilities, and an addictions counselor and child advocate. Most recently he partnered with father’s rights attorney Tina C. Bennet, working with clients in the courts and co-founding E-court Coach Consultants and Mediation on Demand. Find him on Facebook.

OLEAN, New York ꟷ In a country as developed as the United States, it is hard to believe guns remain the highest cause of death amongst youth. In fact, in this 2nd Amendment-declaring, NRA card-carrying society, we rank highest amongst peer countries in this category.

In the U.S., we value our constitution. I cannot argue against our right to bear arms, nor do I disparage my neighbors who support the NRA. As a father who lost his five-year-old son to gun violence, you may be surprised to learn my stance. I believe guns serve a purpose in America. At the same time, facts are facts. Guns have the capacity to kill, equating to staggering statistics in this nation.

According to the CDC and Prevention Wonder database, nearly 19 percent of deaths amongst children ages one through 18 in 2021 resulted from firearms. That means 3,600 kids faced the barrel of a gun. This should break our hearts. It should spur empathy, leadership, and a desire to problem solve. Instead, the political battle blazes on as kids keep dying – kids like my Kalen.

We can implement safety requirements for driving. Why should gun policy be any different?

Until recently, a leading cause of death in America revolved around automobile accidents. As gun deaths rapidly increase, our nation saw a drastic decrease in vehicle-related deaths. Why? The National Highway Traffic Association revealed, from 2000 to 2020, youth deaths due to motor vehicles dropped from more than 13,000 to just over 8,000. This 40 percent reduction arose out of increased motor safety measures and in direct correlation to increased federal monies spent on reducing motor vehicle injuries and deaths.

A Song for Kalen captures the vivid and tragic true story, from the point of view of a traumatized and grief-stricken father, following the shooting of his five-year-old son Kalen Sherlock through the careless actions of Kalen’s mother and her boyfriend.

In roughly the same period, U.S. governmental structures allotted little to no funding for firearm safety research. In fact, the Dickey Amendment all but stonewalled any assessment of gun-related injuries. It wasn’t until 2018 that the Government compromised and provided an undisclosed amount of spending to the CDC for gun safety research. Up to date statistics from the Gun Violence Archive reveal, so far in 2023, the number of children up to the age of 17 injured or killed by guns is nearly 3,000. As of May 30, 263 mass shootings took place in 150 days – many involving children.

More must be done. We already know that research, safety provisions, and legislative mandates around automobile safety decreased deaths and injuries steadily over two decades. Our politicians must put aside differences – too often stoked by lobbyists, money, and a desperate grasp for votes – and engage in an empathetic and bipartisan discussion to save lives.

A glimmer of hope and massive obstacles

On June 8, USA TODAY reported Governor Gavin Newsom of California proposed a 28th Amendment to the constitution, leaving the 2nd Amendment untouched. He sought a place where common sense gun safety laws could live. He said the proposal would lock in constitutional protection of common-sense gun safety – something that most gun owners, whether Democrat, Republican, or Independent – do support. It stands to raise the minimum age of ownership from 18 to 21; mandates universal background checks; institutes a reasonable waiting period; and bars civilian purchase of assault weapons – a weapon of war which our founders never foresaw.

The NRA responded by calling it a “publicity stunt” and calling Newson’s action “unhinged contempt for the right to self-defense.” Let’s examine that statement. Someone tries to rob you, break into your house, or hurt people in a public place. In most places, there are already rules about carrying a gun publicly, let alone an assault rifle. So the average citizen’s self-defense plan, according to the NRA’s logic, is to have an assault rifle hanging over your shoulder at all times in the event you need it, then send a blast of 45 bullets per minute through a target if you feel your life is in danger. Ummm, that makes no sense. So why would the NRA use its massive influence and powerful branding to make people believe common sense gun laws will lead to a total stripping of your right to own a gun or defend yourself? Why, because guns present a massive industry in this country and make certain people very, very rich.

When do we – the people living this nightmare on the streets every day – get to have a say? When do the voices of politicians and lobbyists stop drowning us out? There is a compromise in this conversation.

The time for rationality has arrived. If gun safety laws existed, my son might still be alive.

The Giffords Law Center proved it: gun safety works. California ranked top for gun safety in the U.S. and saw a 37 percent lower gun death rate than the national average. At 9 gun deaths per 100,000 people, it beats out card-carrying NRA states like Mississippi (33.9 per 100,000), Oklahoma (21.2 per 100,000), and Texas (15.6 per 100,000).

Look, if I’m trying to accomplish something in business, I learn from the experts. I’m not asking for advice from someone who failed again and again. Sure, there are lessons in failure; but I want people with a track record of success to guide me. Yet we refuse to be logical around this issue. We refuse to consult with states which are seeing success.

It is June of 2023 and as of this writing, so far this year, nearly 3,000 kids in our country had a bullet penetrate their body. Money and politics mean nothing to those kids and their families. Unless you are defending yourself from terrorists, be rational. Let’s have a conversation. My son died from guns. A bullet traveled through the house and struck him in the head. At five years old, I held him in my arms as they turned off the machines and his spirit left this earth. I don’t want to take your guns away, but by God, we need safety nets in this country.

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