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Let Our Kids Shoot Back! Recent sweeping affirmations by the U.S. Supreme Court, in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) and McDonald v. Chicago (2010), that the Second Amendment protects the right to keep and bear arms for the purpose of… individual self-defense” as a basic right” means gun possession by children and youths must be legalized immediately.

Given the expansion of laws easing more widespread ownership of guns by adults and Court decisions forbidding lawmakers from infringing on this basic individual right,” the seriousness of FBI crime statistics showing that the group most in need of guns to protect themselves is children and teenagers under age 18 creates a moral obligation to let our kids keep and bear arms.

The FBI reports that of the victims for whom the age of the offender could be determined, more than 6,000 U.S. children and youths under age 18 were murdered by adults over the last decade (more than the total murder victims of all ages killed by everyone in the United Kingdom in the same period). In contrast, just 1,200 victims under age 18 were murdered by other children or youths. Thus, six out of seven murders of children and youths are not cases of children killing children” that we hear so much about, but of adults killing children – a large majority by guns.

FBI numbers are clearly underestimated. Even this shocking toll does not include the much, much larger number of American children and youths injured, robbed, or otherwise threatened by grownups. The Administration for Children and Families’ Child Maltreatment 2008 report (also incomplete) substantiated 70,000 cases of violent and sexual abuses victimizing youths age 12 – 17, along with an estimated 1,344 killings of children under 18, inflicted just by parents and caretakers in 2008 alone.

Well, did America’s kids give it right back to the grownups? Not even nearly. Only 2,600 American adults were murdered by assailants under 18 in the last decade – a ratio of 2.3 children/​youths slain by adults per one adult murdered by a child/​youth. The gap is widening. While, in 1995, that ratio was 1.4 to 1, by 2008, it had risen to a staggering 2.6 times more children/​youths murdered by adults than the other way around. What appalling injustice lies behind America’s enormous, growing adult-child murder gap? Clearly, if we accept recent Supreme Court, legislative, and gun-lobby logic, we must conclude that thousands of children and teenagers are being killed, injured, and violently threatened every year due to restrictive U.S. gun laws that deny Americans under age 21 their basic right” to defend themselves against being attacked and murdered by gun-wielding grownups.

Adult criminals, gangsters, and terrorists know young persons are vulnerable targets because youths are more likely to be unarmed or disarmed by law. Would the middle-aged gunman have attacked the Amish school, would a predator kidnap and murder children, would angry fathers shoot up household after household if these killers had to worry that kids might be packing heavy steel to defend themselves? Consider the underlying premise of the Court decisions striking down restrictions on gun ownership: unlike citizens in every other Western nation, Americans face serious violence from other Americans from which law enforcement cannot protect them. Thus, our leading institutions insist, individual Americans must be allowed their own lethal weapons for fundamental self defense.

If that’s the case, then how can the same gun-rights Supreme Court, lawmakers, and lobbies turn around and deny our children and teenagers – the groups now most manifestly victimized by and unprotected from gun violence – the same basic right” under the Second Amendment to protect themselves in armed fashion? If a grownup shoots at a teen, doesn’t a teen have the fundamental right to shoot back? If guns truly protect their owners, then doesn’t the safety of our children and teenagers demand that age restrictions on gun ownership and possession be repealed or struck down?