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‘Everybody Agrees: No Child Should Be Killed By A Gun’

Gun violence continues to plague American communities, particularly affecting the safety and well-being of children. Recent data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) sheds light on the alarming prevalence of gun-related incidents, revealing that nearly 3,600 children lost their lives to gun violence in 2021 alone.

This staggering statistic underscores a harsh reality: American children are more likely to die from gun violence than from any other cause. Firearms accounted for approximately 20% of deaths among Americans under the age of 18, highlighting the urgent need for action to address this epidemic.

During South by Southwest (SXSW,) a panel of experts and survivors convened to discuss the scope of this problem and propose practical solutions.

Alicia Acuna, a correspondent with Fox News Channel and moderator of the panel, shared her personal experience of receiving a text from her son during a school shooting, vividly capturing the fear and uncertainty that grips parents in such moments.

After the shooting, Acuna recounts having a sense of guilt for taking her son to school.

“I was driving him to school, and I was overwhelmed with this sense of dread. Because I felt like I was doing something wrong. Like I’m taking him to his building where something horrible happened. And then I thought, I’m not the only parent doing this, who’s driving their kid to school and wondering if this is a good idea,” Acuna said.

Also on the panel was Mia Tretta, a survivor and advocate for Gun Violence prevention. In 2019 in the Saugus Shooting, Tretta was shot with a .45 caliber ghost gun and her best friend was killed next to her.

During the panel, Tretta emphasized the importance of advocacy in pushing for meaningful change.

“You’re never going to hear someone say, No, I want more mass shootings. And the general population who’s voting might not even know that what we’re trying to do is not take away guns,” Tretta continued. “We’re not trying to take away rights, we’re just trying to make sure that people are obtaining firearms properly, storing firearms properly. And, frankly, using their right for good and making sure that people aren’t getting hurt.”

Her sentiment was echoed by Dr. Chethan Sathya, director of Northwell Health’s Center for Gun Violence Prevention, who said it’s important to address that it’s not that gun owners are a part of the problem, “It’s that we all have common ground. And I think you need that nuance to actually transcend this polarization.”

Dr. Sathya recently received a $1.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to study gun violence prevention and implement a first-of-its-kind protocol to universally screen among those at risk of firearm injury.

“The general population, right, people have tremendous bias. A lot of folks think this is a political issue, not a public health one,” Dr. Sathya said when explaining gun violence is a health care and public issue that needs to be treated like cancer prevention, and heart diseases prevention.

Education also emerged as a key component of gun violence prevention, with speakers emphasizing the importance of gun safety and education for children at each stage of development. Dr. Sathya stressed the need to normalize conversations around gun safety and partner with community organizations to address the issue effectively.

The panel concluded with a call to action for community involvement and advocacy in addressing gun violence. Speakers emphasized the importance of engaging in open and respectful conversations about gun violence prevention and pushing for policy change at both the local and national levels.

“Talk to the people in your family. But also, even if you have just 50 followers on Instagram, a post goes a long way. A conversation goes a long way,” Tretta continues. “I think it is really important to get the message of the Gun Violence epidemic out there because a lot of people don’t know what’s going on.”

Jovanka Palacios
Jovanka Palacios
Jovanka Palacios, a Mexican-American Politics Reporter and Managing Editor at RA's Gun Violence Watch, unveils the Capitol's inner workings. Focused on Public Education and Gun Policies, she passionately advocates for informed dialogue, delivering concise, impactful insights into the intricate political landscape.


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