This summer, Ohio communities have experienced several heartbreaking incidents of gun violence where both victims and perpetrators of gun crimes have been children and teens.
Earlier this month, thirteen-year-old London Hill from Milwaukee was shot and killed while visiting family in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. Hill was shot by a bullet while standing indoors, and later succumbed to his injuries. While details are still developing, reports indicate that Hill may have been shot and killed by two teenagers, a sixteen-year-old and a fourteen-year-old.
In June, sixteen-year-old Galevon Beauchamp was shot and killed in Avondale while using a crosswalk. Four other teenagers were arrested in connection with the shooting of Beauchamp. Hamilton County officials also report seeing a spike in youth gun violence.
“Far too many children and teens’ lives are being cut short due to gun violence. Our hearts are with the families of those taken far too soon in these heartbreaking incidents,” said Mary Anne Crampton, a volunteer with the Ohio chapter of Moms Demand Action. “There is no question that children and teens should not have access to guns — period. We can and must do everything we can to prevent even more of these senseless tragedies in our community by being responsible gun owners and storing our firearms securely.”
Current gaps in Ohio and federal gun safety laws allow for youth to access firearms in several different and complex ways. Children and teens may be able to access unsecured firearms through home environments due to a lack of comprehensive secure storage practices.
Research shows secure storage practices play a vital role in reducing the risk of gun violence. An estimated 54 percent of gun owners don’t lock all of their guns securely. 4.6 million children live in a home with at least one unlocked and loaded firearm. In incidents of gunfire on school grounds, up to 80 percent of shooters under the age of 18 got the gun they used from their home or the homes of friends or relatives. Gun owners can make their homes and communities safer by storing their guns securely. This means storing firearms locked, unloaded, and separate from ammunition.
Firearms are the leading cause of death for children and teens in Ohio. 132 children and teens die by guns every year, and 59% of all gun deaths among children and teens in Ohio are homicides. Black children and teens in Ohio are 5 times more likely than their white peers to die by guns.