Study: 19 children shot every day in U.S.

Study: 19 children shot every day in U.S.
(Photo source: WAVE 3 News Archives)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – Every day, Gina O'Neal sees a photo of her 8-year-old nephew Andre O'Neal.

"As soon as you walk through the front door, his picture is right there," she said. "Life of the party as I always say. He was the life of the party."

The second-grader was killed in January of 2016.

Throughout the year, five more children would be killed by gunfire in Louisville. So far in 2017, LMPD says two homicide victims under the age of 18 were killed by gunfire.

A new study from Centers for Disease Control (CDC) researchers shows 19 children in the US are injured or killed by gunfire every day.

In Louisville, children shot are taken to Norton Children's Hospital, where Dr. Michelle Stevenson oversees pediatric emergency care.

"The great thing about this study is that it brings to light that this is a serious national problem," Stevenson said. "We see homicide victims. We see suicide victims, and unfortunately, we even see children that have unintentionally been injured by gunfire in our community."

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The study says 53 percent of the deaths were homicides; 38 percent were suicides.

"The thing about these injuries is that they're 100 percent preventable," Dr. Stevenson said.

"These kids, they don't have a chance to grow up," O'Neal said. "Their life was snatched from them."

In total, 1,300 children are killed by gunfire every year and nearly 6,000 are injured, according to the study.

"Reality sets in that he'll never be with us again and it hurts," O'Neal said. "It hurts me that other people are hurting like we are."

"We as a society have some decisions to make about what we can do to help protect our most vulnerable victims," Stevenson said.

She said gun safety is as important as speaking with children or doctors about mental health.

"It's incredibly tragic," Stevenson said. "We need better rules and regulations around gun safety and we need better prevention methods."

The findings aren't a huge a surprise -- "Firearm injuries are a serious pediatric and public health problem in the United States."

"It's crazy because people are not really affected by it until it hits home," O'Neal said.

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