Forty Georgia hospital emergency room pediatric physicians wrote an open letter to lawmakers asking for help addressing the rise in children coming into emergency rooms with gunshot wounds.

Dr. Wendalyn Little has worked in pediatric emergency medicine in Atlanta for over 25 years — but lately, she's treating more children with bullet wounds.  

"I feel like in the past weeks and months, I've cared for an increasing number of horrific gunshot wounds and was just moved to write this piece after the experience," Little said. "I took care of four of five within a two-week period."

She began writing down her thoughts in a letter to Georgia lawmakers to express the heartbreak she and the entire team of emergency room professionals feel over the increasing number of children they are treating.

"One of the things I've always been struck by — and I wrote about in this letter — is how small those holes in the body can be," she said. "Someone comes in, and they're dying in front of you with a very tiny hole in their body. And you're just struck by how much damage is done behind that."

When she shared her writing with fellow pediatric ER physicians, they added their feelings to the letter. 

"For me particularly, if it's a younger child, I see my own child in those cases, and my heart goes out to these family members," said Dr. Sofia Chaudhary of Atlanta. "We know that these injuries can happen within seconds."

Both Little and Chaudhary admit that seeing the victims' families in pain is one of the most challenging aspects of the job for everyone working in emergency rooms.

"To see parents come in with bloodstains on their clothing from where they've held their children, and they're horrified. They're frightened," Little said. "We're pretty good at sort of focusing on our jobs, but later, we certainly all think about our own families and our own children."

They want Georgia lawmakers to look at solutions to what they see as a public health crisis.

"Firearms are the leading cause of death for children and youth in Georgia," Chaudhary said. "They're the leading cause of death for all children and youth in the United States. Firearms injuries have surpassed motor vehicle crash injuries and fatalities in children and teens."

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The letter suggests lawmakers support and implement laws to keep our children safe, including safe gun storage requirements, universal background checks and "red flag" laws to keep guns out of the hands of potentially dangerous people.

"I think we can also we can work as a culture to lessen this culture of sort of guns and glorification of weapons that's in music, that's in television — that's all around us," Little said. "I think that's one place where a politician can lead the way and say this is not something we need to glorify in our society."