This weekend was yet another marred by tragedy at the hands of preventable gun violence in places where kids and teenagers should feel safe. On Saturday night, a youth football scrimmage in Lancaster, Texas turned deadly when an argument between coaching staff devolved into gun violence. Mike Hickmon, coach of the Dallas Dragons Elite Academy Coach, was shot and killed, and according to reports, the shooting took place in front of a number of children, including Coach Hickmon’s 9-year-old son. This shooting is not an anomaly. In May of this year, gun violence rocked youth sporting events in at least four states within a one week period, leaving children, families, and spectators traumatized. Last September, communities around the country saw a similar story.
It’s not just sporting events that are being impacted — on Sunday, shooting broke out at a Six Flags parking lot in Gurnee, Illinois, spreading panic among park-goers and forcing the park to go into lock-down. Three people were shot and wounded, at least two of whom were teenagers. Both of these tragedies are emblematic of a larger epidemic: thanks to the gun lobby’s decades-long “guns everywhere” agenda, places where children and teens should be safe — schools, sporting events, music festivals, parks, and more — are being turned into shooting grounds.
Across the country, gun violence is costing children their lives. Each year, more than 3,500 children and teens are shot and killed, making gun violence the leading cause of death among our youth population. This is a uniquely American problem. Compared to other high-income countries, children in the United States aged five to 14 are 21 times more likely to be killed with guns. Beyond those staggering numbers, the effects of gun violence extend far beyond those who are wounded or killed. An estimated three million children witness gun violence annually, and those experiences can have drastic impacts on them for years to come.
To protect kids from gun violence, state lawmakers should take action to pass common sense gun safety laws. Research shows that states with stronger gun laws, like policies requiring a permit to carry a concealed gun, have lower rates of gun violence while states with weaker gun laws, like those with permitless carry, have higher rates of gun violence. More information on the impact of gun violence on children and teens is available here, and Everytown’s interactive gun law ranking tool — which shows how the strength of each state’s gun laws compare to its rate of gun violence — is available here.