ER doctors urge Kentucky lawmakers to action on rising child gun violence
FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- Emergency room doctors from Louisville delivered alarming news to Kentucky lawmakers Wednesday about the growing number of children killed and injured by gun violence.
The physicians specialize in pediatric trauma and see the impact of gun violence up close.
“One of the most frustrating things is when we see injuries and children killed by things that could be prevented,” said Dr. Brit Anderson, a pediatric emergency physician.
Anderson was among those who took their case for gun violence prevention to the Interim Committee on Health, Welfare and Family Services.
The numbers are startling. Gun violence is now the third-leading cause of childhood deaths.
“On average, 1,300 children die and 5,800 are treated for firearm injuries each year in the United States,” said pediatric surgeon Dr. Cynthia Downard.
The numbers include homicide, suicide and accidents. They are different circumstances but the same painful result, according to Morgan Skaggs, director of Kentucky Emergency Medical Services for Children.
“The sights and sounds that you hear on these scenes stay with you,” Skaggs said. “And sometimes they come back at unexpected moments.”
Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist Dr. Christopher Peters said gun safety laws are part of the solution.
“Educating about locking up,” Peters said. “If that's all you did, said we'll make sure people lock up their guns, you would be saving lives.”
One Louisville lawmaker emphasized that gun safety is not gun control.
“We don't want to take guns away from people, for goodness sakes," said Democratic Rep. Mary Lou Marzian. "The NRA would go crazy. But locking them up so kids cannot get them."
Committee chair Sen. Julie Raque Adams (R-Louisville) said she hopes to begin a serious conversation. When it comes to a hot-button issue such as gun safety, Adams said the first step toward any legislation is information.
“The only way you fix a problem is if you understand what the problem is,” Adams said.
Anderson said she and her colleagues came to Frankfort to move that conversation along.
“We will take anything we can do to reduce injuries in the children that we see," she said.
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