Getting some angry emails about my new book from gun owners who assume that any coverage of gun violence — even when focused on how to spare kids from it — is, intrinsically, an attempt to take their firearms away. It’s a notion pushed by gun lobbyists. It's also a lie. (thread)
First, to debunk some myths they keep sending:
"It's the person, not the gun": Nope. Americans aren't uniquely evil. Exorbitantly more people are killed by guns here because we have exorbitantly more guns—as many as 400 million—and laws that are less effective at regulating them.
"Gun laws never stop criminals from getting guns": Universal background checks would, among many things, upend black markets. If gun laws make no difference, why do traffickers travel hundreds of miles to states with weak laws to buy guns to sell in states with strong laws?
"You can't count suicides. People will kill themselves whether they have a gun or not": Overwhelming evidence that this is false, including this astonishing discovery about kids and suicide (pulled from chapter 4 of CHILDREN UNDER FIRE) —
"If you educate kids about guns, they won't make bad decisions with them": This is a fatal misconception that has cost thousands of children their lives. Here's what a doctor told me about a time she had to comfort the parents of a boy who'd shot himself with a rifle.
"Gun laws deprive me of my freedom": The most obvious way to protect children TODAY — mandating that people lock up their guns so kids can't get access to them — would save thousands of lives and do *nothing* to deprive responsible gun owners from buying and keeping weapons.
But here's the twist: When you engage the angry emailer in conversation, you often learn that they actually support many common-sense solutions: background checks, child access laws, even licensing in some cases. It's made me think of what @ChrisMurphyCT told me for the book —
Which leads to one of the biggest myths of all: that most gun owners oppose reform. It's not true. The vast majority say they support change. It's the gun lobby that doesn't, and that opposition has consistently led the Senate to vote no, ignoring the will of their constituents.
The truth is, Americans aren't as divided on gun reform as people think — it's Congress that's divided. I get more much into all this, and what it means for our kids and their future, in the book. But here's the point: progress is not unattainable. (/end)…

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More from @JohnWoodrowCox

5 Apr
Four years ago, I met two extraordinary children. Ava was 7, from rural South Carolina. Tyshaun was 8, from Southeast DC. They didn't know each other or have much in common, but gun violence had ruined both of their lives. This is the story of how they became best friends. (1/)
One afternoon when Ava was in first grade, she walked outside for recess just as a teenager with a gun pulled up in a truck. He opened fire on the playground. Ava dropped her chocolate cupcake and ran.

The shooter killed the boy Ava loved. His name was Jacob. He was 6. (2/)
A few weeks before Jacob was shot, Ava wrote him a note.
“Come play with me please,” she scribbled in pencil. “You can play with my cats. Do you want to get married when you come? My mom will make us lunch.”
Ava called him “Jakey.” He was the only boy she’d ever kissed. (3/)
Read 20 tweets
17 Dec 20
On today's front page, the last in our series on what the pandemic has done to children in America. (thread)…
The first, published just a month into the pandemic, explored the fear and anxiety overwhelming the kids of healthcare workers.…
The next was the story of Nash, Nadeen and Nanssy, three children who depended on their parents for everything and lost both of them to the virus, 20 days apart.
Read 4 tweets
7 Dec 20
I've written almost exclusively about trauma for the past few years, and this story was among the most difficult I've ever reported. I know it's hard to get through, especially now, but I hope you'll try. The Howards are an extraordinary family. (thread)…
When the doctor asked Reign, then 9, if she would donate bone marrow to her younger brother, Messiah, she wondered if that meant the doctors would have to take actual bones out of her body. It didn’t matter, Reign decided. She would still do it.…
“Thank you for saving my life,” Messiah told his sister after the transplant.

Two weeks later, he started wheezing. On April 16, her dad got the call.

“He tested positive,” she heard her mother say, and then she watched her father begin to weep.…
Read 7 tweets
20 Jul 20
As I wrote this story, I heard people claim every day that the virus is a hoax, that’s it’s not as bad as reporters suggest, that it will soon be a memory.

For those people, here is what three children in Michigan have endured since March. (THREAD)
The last time Nadeen saw her mother — her best friend — Nada was being lifted into an ambulance. A day later, Nadeen had to call 911 for her dad, too.
“I’ve been to this address before,” the paramedic told her.
“Yeah,” she replied. “You took my mom.”
Nash — who didn't have a bank account or know what size clothes he wore — was suddenly in charge of caring for his sisters. After losing his mom, his dad wasn't expected to survive Mother's Day.
"Please not today," he prayed. His father died one day later.
Read 6 tweets
28 Dec 18
1/ This year, I partnered w/ @dataeditor to chronicle the many ways school shootings affect children in America. Our project, edited by the magnificent @WPLyndaRobinson, was anchored by a deep look at how the epidemic has changed students who endured them.
2/ Our school shootings database, the most exhaustive ever built, charts incidents dating back to '99. We found that 2018 was, by every measure, the worst year in modern U.S. history.
Shootings: 25
People shot: 94
People killed: 33
Students exposed: 25,332
3/ Three weeks after a teenager killed 17 people in Parkland, we told the story of Jesse Osborne, a 14-year-old in South Carolina whose planning and confession provided extraordinary insight into the mind of a school shooter:
Read 8 tweets
28 Dec 17
1/6 — We published six stories this year that explored how children in America contend every day with gun violence. The first featured Tyshaun, a second-grader whose father was shot outside his D.C. school:
The second followed first-graders Ava, Karson, Siena and Collin, who were on a S.C. playground when a teen shot their friend Jacob. Those kids are among more than 135,000 who've experienced a school shooting since Columbine:
The third was about Latee, a Chicago teen who'd lost 10 people he knew to gunfire, none older than 22. After being shot at age 15, his only goal was to survive:
Read 7 tweets

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