Atlanta Teen Voices / all

collage by Moran Veale/ VOX ATL Journalism Fellow

“Leaving a gun lying around somewhere is the most irresponsible thing a person, not just a parent can do. Owning a gun doesn’t bother me, but leaving it out for an infant to kill himself is the epitome of stupidity.”

Teens React to Rise of Gun-Related Child Deaths in Atlanta

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In the state of Georgia, it is now legal for Georgians to carry a handgun in public without a license from the state. Enthusiasts of this law were ecstatic when Gov. Brian Kemp signed this bill in 2022. However, people needed to be made aware of the effect that it would have on the community.

According to WSB-TV, on Sept. 5, 2023, 1-year-old Royal Clark found his father’s gun and accidentally shot himself, days before his second birthday. Paramedics arrived shortly to the Marietta home after the incident, desperately trying to save the boy. However, he died from all the injuries. His father, Conrad Clark, who was cooking dinner when the child found the gun, faces charges of involuntary manslaughter, reckless conduct, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Police on the scene state, according to 11 Alive, “it was accidental, but the adult is responsible.” While Clark’s death was tragic to everyone in the community, he is not the only one that has passed due to the gun violence. 

As reported by 11 Alive, on Sept. 4, 2023, 7-year-old Zayre Daughtery was found dead in the back of a car in DeKalb County after finding his father’s loaded gun while his father was in the gas station. Left unattended, Zayre fired the gun, injuring himself while his little brother ran due to the noise. Zayre Clark later died from his injuries, and his father faces second-degree murder charges. 

NBC reports that “Guns became the leading cause of death among children and teens in 2020, killing more people ages 1 to 19 in the U.S. than vehicle crashes, drugs overdoses [sic], or cancer.”

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CNN also reported that “Firearms accounted for nearly 19% of childhood deaths (ages 1-18) in 2021,” according to CDC data.

That said, many people in the metro-Atlanta area find the increase in gun violence to be an issue. Jason Kimani, a freshman from Woodward Academy, worries about the increase of child deaths, having two younger brothers.  He states: “If you have a child, you should be more mindful about the items placed around, and having a gun around said child is an issue that needs to be solved.” 

Another student, Bryce Jackson who is senior from Woodward Academy, questions individuals who carry weapons around minors: “ The idea that parents would A: have a gun around any child of any age is ridiculous, but B: An adult who made the decision to have a child has to be responsible. Leaving a gun lying around somewhere is the most irresponsible thing a person, not just a parent can do. Owning a gun doesn’t bother me, but leaving it out for an infant to kill himself is the epitome of stupidity.”

It is important to be mindful of a child’s tendency to grab and take things that they see their parents use or have. Gun violence is a serious issue that needs to be solved and is affecting children and the lives around everyone.

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