WASHINGTON — Between 2006 and 2010, 561 children age 12 and under were killed by firearms, according to the FBI’s most recent Uniform Crime Reports.
The numbers each year have been consistent: 120, 115, 116, 114, and 96 in 2010. The FBI’s count does not include gun-related child deaths that authorities have ruled accidental.
‘‘This happens on way too regular a basis and it affects families and communities — not at once, so we don’t see it and we don’t understand it as part of our national experience,’’ said Daniel Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research.
The true number of small children who died by gunfire in 2012 will not be known for a couple of years, when official reports are analyzed.
In response to what happened in Newtown, Conn., the National Rifle Association, the nation’s largest gun lobby, suggested shielding children from gun violence by putting an armed officer in every school by the time classes resume in January.
But Webster said children are more likely to die by gunfire at home or in the street. They tend to be safer when they are in school, he said.
Children die by many other methods as well: violent stabbings or throat slashings, drowning, beating and strangulation. But the gruesome recounts of gun deaths, sometimes just a few paragraphs in a newspaper or on a website, a few minutes on television or radio, bear witness that firearms, too, are cutting short the lives of many youngsters.