Washington, D.C. – At the start of Mother’s Day week, Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America today released the #NotAnAccident Index and interactive map, a first-of-its-kind tracking of unintentional shootings by children, and launched Be SMART, 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 #NotAnAccident Index and interactive map released today show that since January 1, 2015, there have been at least 80 unintentional shootings involving children, resulting in 57 injuries and 24 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.
“Too often these types of shootings are misclassified and undercounted – and without the right numbers, we can’t understand the scope of the problem or determine the best way to avoid these preventable tragedies,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “The #NotAnAccident index is a haunting visual representation of just how serious this problem is in our country. The details of each case are a wake-up call to parents that we need to be doing more. These incidents are preventable and it’s on us – responsible adults – to do our part to make sure our children are safe. And the reality is the problem of children finding unsecured guns is happening nationwide– from toddlers in Texas to our most hallowed halls of power, as we saw recently when a child found a loaded gun in Speaker Boehner’s office.”
Also today, Melissa Joan Hart, actor, director and mom of three who is featured in the Be SMART video presentation joined Shannon Watts and child access survivors and families in Washington, D.C. to release the #NotAnAccident index and launch the Be SMART campaign, which 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.
“Just like we protect power outlets with covers from the little fingers of our children, or turn the pot of boiling water so that handle isn’t easy to grab—we must think of storing our guns safely the same way,” said Melissa Joan Hart, actor, director, and mom of three who is featured in the Be SMART video presentation. “The goal here isn’t to scare anyone 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.”
Hart and Watts were joined by moms and survivors from around the country who know from experience why the Be SMART campaign is critical to gun safety and keeping our communities safe.
“A month ago, I was like many parents–doing everything in my power to keep my children safe, but I was sheltered from the reality that more than two million American children live in homes with unsecured guns,” said Misty Uribe, a North Carolina mom of three, her 8-year old son was at a friend’s house when one of his playmates was shot in the face while playing “cops and robbers” with an unsecured gun. “And now we have the power of the Be SMART campaign and I am counting on all of you to talk to your friends and family—go to the Be SMARTforkids.org website to learn more and to get involved in this conversation to promote gun safety.”
“In memory of my son Codrick McCall Jr. and all the other families affected by these tragedies, I urge to please join in this gun safety effort, start the conversation, and Be SMART,” added Ashley Beal, whose 4-year old son Codrick McCall Jr. died from an unintentional, self-inflicted gunshot wound on March 1, 2015 in Houston, Texas, after finding an unsecured gun at the home of a family friend.
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.
“I am not anti-gun, my family and I live in the country, my husband is a hunter, he owns guns,” said Missy Jenkins Smith, a Kentucky mother of two, who was paralyzed in a school shooting when a 14-year-old found an unsecured gun in a garage at friend’s home, brought it to school and opened fire. “What I am passionately against though is irresponsible gun ownership – guns that are accessi ble to anyone, especially children. I was immediately drawn to the Be SMART effort for one simple reason – because at its core is common sense.”
Additionally during the Mother’s Day Week of Action, Moms from all over the country will host nearly 150 house parties giving the Be SMART presentation featuring Melissa Joan Hart. The week will close with the 3rd Annual Brooklyn Bridge March and Rally to End Gun Violence in New York City on Saturday, May 9th in New York City.