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CNN Today

American Academy of Pediatrics Urges Removal of Guns From Homes Where Children Live

Aired April 3, 2000 - 2:02 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

DONNA KELLEY, CNN ANCHOR: Trigger locks may be good, but absence is better. That's the word from the American Academy of Pediatrics today. The group said that the best way to prevent handgun-related tragedies to children is to keep guns out of homes where children live.

For more on the story, we turn to CNN's medical correspondent Eileen O'Connor. She's in Washington -- Eileen.

EILEEN O'CONNOR, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Donna, the American Academy of Pediatrics is citing a number of statistics, and they're, in fact, predicting that by the year 2003, firearm-related deaths will be the leading cause of death related to injury-related deaths. They're also saying in calling for this ban -- the AAP says that it is accessibility to guns that makes the difference. And they cite statistics that show that firearm related deaths in the United States are 12 times greater than that in 25 other industrialized countries for children under the age of 15.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(voice-over): Dr. Joseph Wright (ph) says there are some children a pediatrician never forgets.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I took care of a young girl who was unintentionally shot by her older brother. They were playing with a loaded and unlocked weapon at home.

O'CONNOR: Dr. Wright says three-quarters of the injuries he sees at Children's Hospital in Washington, D.C. are from handguns. Firearm-related deaths are the leading cause of death in the District, but it's the individual tragedies that haunt him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I also remember caring for a young child who got a hold of one of her parent's weapons from a bureau top and fired the weapon, playing with it, into her mouth and killing herself.

O'CONNOR: The little girl was 3 and just one of the reasons he agrees with the American Academy of Pediatrics: The only way to prevent more than 4,000 children and teens under 20 from dying each year is by banning handguns.

In the absence of such legislation, the AAP is also urging guns be subject to safety and design regulations like other consumer products; doctors educate their patients and families as to the importance of safe storage of guns and their potential for harm; and the romance with guns in the popular media be studied and reduced.

The National Rifle Association says education on gun safety, not a ban, is what is needed. Dr. Wright believes the availability of guns is the problem.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If there had been any epidemic, any other epidemic in which we were losing 12 children a day -- 12 children a day are lost to firearms in this country -- there would be a public outcry.

O'CONNOR: For Dr. Wright, the worst part is telling the families their child is gone.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O'CONNOR: Now there are other groups of doctors in United States who say that a ban will not be effective, that it really is education about the safe storage and use of guns that will make a difference. They say that many of the homicides are really all about having guns -- illegal guns in the wrong hands.

I'm Eileen O'Connor reporting live from Washington.

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