Gun violence has killed nearly 1,200 children in the United States since the school massacre in Parkland, Florida, one year ago. Few of these deaths became the focus of the nation’s attention. Maybe that’s because these killings were so mundane, so normal, in the 21st-century United States.
A few weeks after the Parkland shooting, a 17-year-old high-school student in Birmingham, Alabama, named Courtlin Arrington, who’d long dreamed of becoming a nurse, was shot and killed in class, just months before she was to graduate. In July, three siblings—the oldest of whom was 6—were, according to news reports, murdered along with their mother by their father, who used the same gun to kill himself. A few months after that, a 17-year-old budding entrepreneur in Dayton, Ohio, named Lashonda Sharreice Childs was allegedly murdered by her ex-boyfriend. Just days before her death, according to local news media, Childs had written in a Facebook post that “domestic violence is real,” that it wasn’t “just in movies.” In December, Izabella “Izzy” Marie Helem was shot to death at the age of 4. Izzy’s 3-year-old brother had been playing with a gun he found in their grandmother’s Lebanon, Indiana, home and accidentally fired it in her direction.
While the rate of firearm-related homicides has declined since its peak in the 1980s, gun violence is the second most common cause of death among children in the U.S., according to one recent study, and its role in youth fatalities has expanded significantly in recent years. Seldom do such fatalities result from high-profile campus massacres like that in Parkland, Florida, last February, when a 19-year-old former student slaughtered 17 people, including 14 students.
Seldom do those fatalities happen on school campuses at all, in fact. While comprehensive data are limited, a 2017 study found that the majority—85 percent—of children 12 or younger who were shot to death from 2003 to 2013 were killed in a home.