WASHINGTON - September 13 - Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children's Defense Fund, today expressed her dismay at Congress' and the Bush Administration's failure to renew the Assault Weapons Ban.
"Today our nation takes a grievous and giant step backwards by allowing the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban to expire despite the backing of police chiefs across the country and the support of nearly three-fourths of registered voters and a majority of gun owners. The Bush Administration, with empty rhetoric, sound bites and buck-passing, did nothing to extend this critical child and citizen protection. In addition to the obvious peril of returning military-style, semi-automatic assault weapons to the streets in our communities, this catastrophe demonstrates an equally grave danger in America today -- the manipulation of the political process by powerful special interest groups who care only about their own extremist agenda at the expense of our children's lives.
"The Assault Weapons Ban has made a difference. In the decade before its passage, child and teenage gun deaths increased each and every year. Since the ban passed in 1994, child and teenage gun deaths have decreased each year. Sadly, we are still losing eight children a day to gun violence. The rate of firearm deaths among children under age 15 is 12 times higher in the United States than it is in 25 other industrialized countries combined. Between 1979 and 2001, nearly 93,000 children were killed by firearms. That is more than all the American soldiers killed in the Vietnam War. While we have just passed the mark of 1,000 American military deaths in the Iraq war, 2,911 children and teens died from gunfire in America in 2001 alone.
"What will it take for all of us to stand up and stop the killing of children in America?"