KANSAS CITY, MO – Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America recently launched #NotAnAccident Index and interactive map, a first-of-its-kind tracking of unintentional shootings by children 17 or under across the United States shows Missouri suffered at least five unintentional shootings involving children, resulting in four injuries and one death in 2015—including shootings in Elmo, Florissant, Kansas City, Platte City, and Willwood.
Nationally the #NotAnAccident Index indicates that since January 1, 2015, there have been at least 88 unintentional shootings involving children, resulting in 65 injuries and 25 deaths—that’s an average of one unintentional child shooting in America every 36 hours. The index is based on media coverage and police reports of instances where a child 17 years or younger unintentionally fired a gun and harmed either him or herself or another person.
“As a parent, I was shocked to see how many unintentional child shootings there are here in Missouri,” said Erin Gregory, volunteer with the Missouri Chapter of Moms Demand Action from Kansas City. “I do everything in my power to keep my children safe, but the reality that more than two million American children live in homes with unsecured guns and that once every 36 hours, a child unintentionally fires a gun and harms someone. That is unacceptable—as adults, we need to be responsible for gun safety. These are not accidents, they are preventable tragedies.”
The Missouri shootings on the #NotAnAccident Index are:
• January 5, 2015, Willwood, MO
A six-year-old boy was watching television with his siblings in the back bedroom of his grandmother’s home when he discovered a loaded gun on top of a tall dresser. He unintentionally fired it, injuring himself in the thigh. The children’s grandmother, Cheryle Spaeth, 59, was in the shower at the time. According to press the boy was expected to recover, and Spaeth was charged with felony first-degree endangerment of child welfare.
• January 6, 2015, Kansas City, MO
Three-year-old Ta’Riyah Davis was playing with her four-year-old brother when the boy retrieved a .38 caliber revolver and unintentionally fired it, hitting her in the chest. Davis underwent surgery but fully recovered. The gun belonged to the children’s father, Jessie Ross III, 26, who is a convicted felon. He initially denied any knowledge of the gun but later said he was holding it for a friend.
• January 19, 2015, Elmo, MO
A five-year-old boy found a .22 revolver that belonged to his grandfather and unintentionally fired it, hitting and killing his 9-month-old brother, Corbin Wiederholt. Nodaway County Sheriff Darren White told reporters, “It was just not locked up … the child was able to get to it.” Authorities ruled the shooting to be unintentional.
• February 16, 2015, Platte City, MO
A 12-year old boy was home alone with his 9-year old sister and playing with a .45 caliber handgun when he unintentionally shot himself in the leg.
• February 21, 2015, Florissant, MO
A three-year old boy found a gun and accidentally shot himself. According to police his injuries were not life threatening.
In efforts to reduce the number of shootings by children, Everytown and Moms Demand Action recently launched the Be SMART campaign, a new public education campaign asking gun owners and non-gun owners alike to come together to reduce the number of unintentional shootings, suicides, and homicides that occur when firearms are not stored responsibly and children or teens get ahold of a gun. The campaign asks parents and caretakers to take five steps to help prevent shootings by children: Secure all guns in your home and vehicles; Model responsible behavior around guns; Ask about the presence of unsecured guns in other homes; Recognize the risks of teen suicide; Tell your peers to be SMART. More information on Be SMART is available at BeSMARTforKids.org.
“The Be SMART campaign is a great way to get Missourians talking about basic gun safety and preventing further tragedy,” continued Gregory. “This campaign is not anti-gun, it’s pro-gun safety. The goal here is not to scare people or take away anyone’s rights, but rather to demonstrate that we have the power to help prevent these tragedies before they happen, and it starts with the Be SMART campaign.”
As part of the Be SMART campaign to promote gun safety in communities nationwide, Everytown and Moms Demand Action will provide one gunlock for every supporter who completes the online gun safety quiz on BeSMARTforKids.org to Moms Demand Action chapters to distribute at local gun safety awareness events.