March 12 2018 12:15 AM by Daniel R. Taylor, D.O., FAAP, FACOP

What if there were a virus that killed or maimed dozens of children daily in the U.S.? We know its structure, mechanism of death and disability, and potential cure, yet we are not funded to research it, to remove antiquated laws that keep it alive and become deadlier as it sits in wait in over 80 million homes, coat pockets, backpacks, and schools.

The unimaginable has happened again. Fingers point and newspaper columns, talk shows, Twitter and Facebook feeds swarm with a tsunami of blame, angst, agony, and personal tragic stories of grief beyond words, repeated with a regularity that no other country in the world accepts. Names of schools big and small forever etched in our consciousness - Columbine, Newtown, and now Parkland. Names of children, sons and daughters, whose parents had marked in their calendars graduation days, teacher conferences, and school dances, that their children now will not attend, due to the inability of, as we were so recently reminded of by a Parkland student who is not yet able to vote or serve in the military, , "We're kids. You're the adults. You're supposed to protect us." The AAP's recent statement on the Parkland school shooting stated that, "Every one of our 100 U.S. senators and all 435 U.S. representatives bear a responsibility to take meaningful action to protect our children, our families, and our communities. Our elected leaders cannot continue to fail at this most essential task." And failing they are: 90 deaths a day by firearms including 7 children a day.

The majority of Americans want and deserve improved gun safety measures such as banning assault rifles and the absurd bump stocks. We want universal background checks, extreme risk protection orders, and funding of research for gun safety. This should be just the minimum.

Unfortunately, even these common-sense measures wouldn't decrease gun deaths of children or their family members much in concentrated areas of violence and poverty outside of school walls, on street corners, and in homes where firearms are still not safely stored - in over a third of households - while suicide by firearm takes over 22,000 lives annually. We have smart gun technology where only a registered owner would be able to fire their gun. We have limited background checks that must be improved. We have legislators that continue to fight for what is right. But until we can honestly look a mother or father in the eye and promise them that their beloved sons and daughters will not be exposed to this deadly scourge in their schools, in their neighborhoods, and in their homes, we cannot lay idle. There are 7 children at risk of dying today and tomorrow. They need our every preventative effort. Now.