The Gun Fight: The youngest victims - CBS46 News

The Gun Fight: The youngest victims

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Laurona and Sammy Laurona and Sammy

A bullet--how can something so small change so many lives? A bullet doesn't know who it's meant for or why it's being sent.  

What is known is once it gets to its intended target, no one will ever be the same.   

The youngest victims--the ones with the most to look forward to--those shootings are the hardest shootings to take.

"My most valuable thing in life is being a mom. I loved being a mom," said Lady Laurona Phelps.

Eusebio and Laurona Phelps are unwilling members of a club no parent wants to be a member of.  It was two years ago November 2 that their son Sammy was killed by someone with a gun.

"It is quite upsetting that kids can put their hands on a weapon without even knowing the impact that that weapon has once that trigger is pulled," said Eusebio Phelps.

According to the Justice Department and the Centers for Disease Control, children in the United States are 14 times more likely to die from being shot than in any other country and that number is even higher for African-American and Latino children.

There were just over 32,000 gun deaths in the U.S. in 2011. Of those deaths, 591 were ruled accidental and of those, 102 were younger than 18. Fifty of those killed were younger than 13 years of age.      

Those are the latest numbers the government has on record. Since then there have been thousands of young lives lost, leaving families scrambling to find a new normal.

"It was never a time that I didn't tell him I loved him," said Laurona Phelps. "Just last week I was having a conversation with one of my clients and she asked me, 'What's the hardest part of this.' I said, 'the thought of what could have been."

Atlanta police Lt. Jeff Cantin said that's one reason they started a peer group within the department.

"Our peer group is just there, so that way they have a fellow officer to talk to who's been there before, who knows what that person is going through and help them decompress," said Cantin.

Laurona Phelps also started a group, Mothers Against Guns and Gangs.

Angela Washington became a member after losing her son Ryan. She said it doesn't matter if you have kids-- this gun problem is everyone's problem.

"We have to be more focused on our children and on our next door neighbors' children and my children down the street. That's where we lose it as a community," said Washington.

And even though police officers can't make the law, Cantin said he understands why officers get frustrated when a child loses their life because someone didn't lock up a weapon.

"I'd be happy to tell anybody, do what you can to secure the weapon to protect your family; make sure your children know it's there and tell them what it's for so that way they don't find it and think it's a new toy and play with it," said Cantin.

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