Doctors from Children’s MN call on lawmakers to take gun legislative action, citing too many deaths

Children gun deaths

Children gun deaths

More than 160 pediatric healthcare professionals are putting pressure on lawmakers to pass firearm legislation.

In a letter to lawmakers, they write, “When a child is shot in Minnesota, we are the ones who deal the devastation up close. We are the ones who desperately try to save their lives and repair their young bodies, blown apart by a bullet.”

Led by Children’s Minnesota, the healthcare professionals are urging lawmakers to come together to include measures currently part of omnibus public safety bills in both the Minnesota House and Senate — those measures address universal background checks, funding for community violence intervention programs and “extreme risk protection” that are also known as red flag laws.

To drive their point home, the children care providers point to state data from 2020, writing gunshots were more deadly than cancer.

“We have to try every little bit that we can,” Dr. Andrew Kiragu, intensive care unit doctor with Children’s Minnesota, said.

National data highlights an increase in gun deaths in children throughout the U.S.

“Including homicide, suicide, accidents, and all other categories of gun deaths,” numbers from the Pew Research Center and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show a 50% jump in gun deaths among those under 18 years old, from 2019 to 2021.

Pew Research Center

“For many people, it is a number, but for the family, for the child, that is something completely different,” Dr. Kiragu said about the deadly statistics, adding: “For us as health care providers who have to put these children back together again, for the families we have to help navigate this, this is truly something that is heart-wrenching.”

The letter was followed by similar calls from gun safety advocates, who alongside Minnesota attorney general Keith Ellison urged lawmakers to find comprise — especially because of the time left in the legislative session.

RELATED: Ellison joins gun safety advocates in urging action by Legislature

“We can do this in a bipartisan way, we can save lives — but, we only got six weeks to do it. We cannot mess around,” Ellison said.

The AG says he’ll be urging legislators to make “progress,” rather than trying to get everything they want all at once.

The Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus says while they’re willing to have conversations about improving public safety, they do have concerns with the red flag laws.

“The bills right now are way too far infringing on people’s individual rights and aren’t going to address the problems,” Rob Doar, senior vice president of government affairs with the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus, said.  

Doar adds they support violence intervention work and hopes resources can be allotted to mental health resources in great Minnesota to address suicides.

The legislative session wraps up in late May.