(MIAMI) — Skyla Davis was shot before she was even born.
Her mother, Tiffany Davis, 27 and eight months pregnant, was leaving a convenience store Dec. 9 in Miami when gang members started shooting in her neighborhood.
One bullet struck her in the brain; another hit her in the abdomen, piercing her womb and shattering her 4-pound baby girl’s arm and elbow.
Skyla was delivered by emergency Caesarean section. Her arm is now swaddled in a makeshift sling.
Her mother, unable to speak, was told by doctors about the shooting Monday. Because the bullet shattered in her frontal lobe, which controls much of a person’s cognitive function, doctors doubt she’ll fully recover.
The bullets were from a Glock 10, the same kind of handgun carried by Adam Lanza, the 20-year-old who fatally shot his mother and then 26 children and staff members at a Newtown, Conn., school Friday before killing himself.
“This epidemic of gun violence is affecting unborn children,” said Dr. Tanya Zakrison, who treated Skyla. Zakrison attended an impromptu town hall meeting of trauma surgeons at Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami.
Her hospital, where trauma surgeons bound for Iraq and Afghanistan are trained, is a kind of ground zero in a national crisis.
Last year, 600 gunshot victims — more than in all of England in a 10-year period — were treated at Ryder. But Ryder’s emergency room is just one piece of a nationwide puzzle.
In 2010, 31,000 Americans were killed by guns — 60 times more than the number of troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan in the same year.
About a dozen surgeons who spoke to ABC News — some of whom said they owned guns themselves for protection — agreed that they’d like to see guns taken off the streets across the United States, but conceded that it was an impossibility.
“Have all the guns you want,” said Dr. Nicholas Namias, medical director of Ryder Trauma Center. “We need a war on ammunition.”
Zakrison said she could tell immediately when a victim entered the emergency room whether they’d been hit by an assault weapon or a handgun.
“Absolutely,” she said. “[It] looks like a bomb has gone off on the inside.”
She said she wants the bullets used today in many semiautomatic weapons to be banned.
Not only do assault rifle bullets travel about three times as fast through the rifle’s longer barrel, but they are designed not just to strike but to explode or fragment, causing extensive damage.
Zakrison also said that victims of gun violence needed to be counseled. She said that when drunken drivers caused accidents, they were given counseling with the hope that they don’t endanger people again.
She said that patients she saw who’d been wounded by gunfire were often caught in a cycle of violence and were not given that same help.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Lois M. Collins, Deseret News