LaVonte’e Williams couldn’t read yet, but he loved the Bible. His grandfather even called him Preacher. In August, a day after his baptism, he accidentally shot himself at a park and died at just 5 years old.
Juan Carlos Robles-Corona Jr. had mastered viral TikTok dances. He would perform them at an Auntie Anne’s, where he and his mother worked. In April, he was shot to death near his school in an unsolved killing. He was 15 years old.
Angellyh Yambo prided herself on befriending people considered “annoying or strange.” She drew elaborate sketches on her iPad and liked watching horror movies. In April, a few months after her Sweet 16 birthday, she was killed by a stray bullet while walking outside after school.
LaVonte’e, Juan Carlos and Angellyh were just three of the thousands of children killed or injured by gun violence this year in the U.S. The New York Times Magazine devoted its upcoming issue, published online today, to their stories and those of nine others for its annual The Lives They Lived feature.
The stories are devastating, and I hope you’ll take some time to read them today. They are also representative of a uniquely American problem.
An enduring tragedy
Many Americans are so accustomed to the daily toll of gun violence that they may not realize how much of an outlier the U.S. is for anything related to firearms. Outside of mass shootings like the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School (which happened 10 years ago yesterday), killings of children rarely get much attention. So I want to explain how different the U.S. is when it comes to gun deaths among teenagers and younger children.
Guns are now the No. 1 cause of deaths among American children and teens, ahead of car crashes, other injuries and congenital disease.
In other rich countries, gun deaths are not even among the top four causes of death, a recent Kaiser Family Foundation report found. The U.S. accounts for 97 percent of gun-related child deaths among similarly large and wealthy countries, despite making up just 46 percent of this group’s overall population.
If the U.S. had gun death rates similar to Canada’s, about 26,000 fewer children would have died since 2010, according to Kaiser. But the trend has been going in the opposite direction: Gun deaths among teens and younger kids have gone up in the U.S., while they have declined elsewhere. The victims are disproportionately people of color, most often Black boys.
Why is America such an outlier? Because it has many more guns, as I explained here. The U.S. has more guns than people. This abundance of guns makes it much easier for anyone to carry out an act of violence with a firearm in America than in any other wealthy country.
This is not to say that other countries don’t have violence. Obviously, they do. But when a gun is involved, as is more likely in the U.S., death is a much more likely result.
That outcome is reflected in the statistics, but also in the tragic stories of the children whose lives were cut short.
Related: Explore the data revealing how gun violence became the top killer of American children.
THE LATEST NEWS
The Federal Reserve raised interest rates by half a percentage point, a smaller increase than previous ones, but said that it would keep raising rates to fight inflation.
“Winter of discontent”: Around 100,000 nurses are striking in Britain, joining postal and rail workers in nationwide walkouts for higher wages.
Sam Bankman-Fried’s arrest may finally make tech founders’ schlubby T-shirts and shorts uncool, the critic Vanessa Friedman writes.
Final showdown: The tournament will culminate on Sunday when Kylian Mbappé’s France faces Lionel Messi’s Argentina after France beat Morocco, 2-0, in a semifinal yesterday.
Multiple firsts: Even though the team lost, on some level this will always be Morocco’s World Cup, the one that made it a trailblazer, a record-breaker, a watermark that will not fade, The Times’s Rory Smith writes.
National team coaches: There are no rules that require a team to be managed by someone born, raised or connected to that country. Should it matter?
ARTS AND IDEAS
The show goes on
A cyberattack has hobbled the Metropolitan Opera, the country’s largest performing arts organization, for more than a week. It has shuttered a box office that typically handles about $200,000 in sales each day at this time of year. Peter Gelb, the Met’s general manager, said the attack appeared to be the work of an organized criminal gang.
But there is one positive aspect: As the Met’s digital systems remain incapacitated, it has offered general admission seats at a deep discount, allowing opera fans to take in performances they might otherwise not have been able to afford. Mike Figliulo, a technology director on Broadway, paid $50 for orchestra seats to “Aida” on Tuesday night. Still, he told a Times reporter, “It’s frightening that a cyberattack can happen at a place like the Met.”