As a youngster, I loved playing Jarts. I’m old enough to remember the original version. The heavy metal tips were designed to stick firmly in the ground if you threw the lawn dart with enough of an arc.
In 1987, a seven-year-old girl was killed when a Jart thrown by another child penetrated her skull. At that time, there had been 6,100 emergency room visits in the past 8 years resulting from lawn dart injuries, but the federal government had resisted banning the product. Enough was enough – public outrage over this death led the US Consumer Product Safety Commission to immediately ban Jarts (although you can now buy a safer version with plastic tips). I could live without Jarts.
Fast forward to 2022. The Center for Disease Control reports that 3,219 children aged 1 to 18 died from firearms in 2020 — the leading cause of death for this age group. Mass killings of children involving assault rifles are all too frequent. Hundreds of children die annually when guns are not safely secured in the home. Irresponsible gun sellers target youth in their advertisements. The few gun safety regulations that exist are riddled with loopholes.
So how did we get to a place where one unnecessary childhood death was too many when it came to Jarts, but 3,219 children dying from firearms each year isn’t enough to justify taking significant action regarding firearms safety?
The modest reform package working its way through Congress is a good first step and hopefully will pass, although it’s discouraging to hear that some members of Congress will not even support these common-sense reforms. More will need to be done if we really care about keeping children alive by reducing the number of childhood firearm deaths.