The celebratory bullets began flying right around midnight, in the final moments of 2022.
The child’s father heard two dings – Happy New Year bullets ricocheting in front of their apartment.
“Ouch,” he heard his 11-year-old say.
Then, she was gone.
“Right at midnight, Amethyst was probably the first child to go in 2023,” he said of his “Stranger Things”-obsessed, animal-loving Texas tween who hadn’t yet aged out of clasping her mother’s hand.
“Ame,” as everybody called Amethyst Sistine Silva, was one of at least nine children and teens to die by gunfire on the first day of 2023, according to the Gun Violence Archive – and one of more than 1,300 children and teens killed by a gun so far this year.
Firearms are now the No. 1 killer of children and teens in America, having surpassed motor vehicles, which had been the leading cause of death among America’s youth until 2020.
Just as cars and roads were becoming safer, guns were killing more and more kids in America: Federal data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the number of gun deaths among US children and teenagers rose 50 percent between 2019 and 2021. But this terrible trendline cannot be articulated through datasets alone.
There are devastating stories behind every one of the numbers – of stolen futures and shattered families, of loving memories and incalculable loss.
Consider King, the Georgia 9-year-old who slept with Lilo & Stitch bedcovers and a Space Jam blanket until he was killed by another child who was handling an unsecured gun.
Or Frankie, the 10-year-old from California who was playing with his cousins when he was killed in a drive-by – a bullet bouncing off the front door, then a ping-pong table before becoming lodged in his stomach.
Or Izaiah, the Maryland 16-year-old empath with a musician’s ear who was gunned down near his high school.
CNN is publishing a series of profiles of these and other gun victims – a daily reminder of some of the many young lives lost this year, and every year, in America.
These stories are not about the circumstances of the individual deaths. Some of the shootings were accidental; some were intentional. All are horribly sad.
The project aims to highlight the scope and scale of the issue by sharing their stories, by focusing on the people, not policy debates.
“I want people to know that Izaiah was your kid; your daughter; your son,” the teen’s mother said. “Izaiah was your child.”