NEW YORK – Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, part of Everytown for Gun Safety, today marked 200 unintentional child shootings in America since the start of the year. The incidents tracked on the #NotAnAccident Index and interactive map – a first-of-its-kind tracking of unintentional shootings by children 17 or under across the United States – revealed that Florida, Ohio and Texas lead the ranks with 14 shootings each so far this year, with Michigan trailing just behind with 13 shootings.
Nationally, the #NotAnAccident Index revealed that since January 1, 2015, there have been at least 200 unintentional shootings involving children, resulting in 60 deaths and 143 injuries – an average of one unintentional child shooting in America every 32 hours.
A deeper analysis of the index revealed that 110 incidents (55%) resulted in a child shooting someone else and 90 incidents (45%) resulted in children shooting themselves. By evaluating the circumstances of each incident, it was determined that 124 of the 200 incidents (62%) could have been prevented had the gun been stored locked and unloaded.
“The milestone of hitting 200 unintentional child shootings this year is nothing to celebrate and is instead an important reminder for gun owners and non-gun owners alike that the responsibility falls on us – the adults – to ensure the safety of our children,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense In America. “These deaths and injuries are not blameless accidents. They are preventable tragedies that afflict hundreds of families each year and is a problem – with a clear solution – that we’re seeing nationwide. The goal here isn’t to scare anyone or take away anyone’s rights, but rather to demonstrate that we have the power to prevent these tragedies before they happen, and it starts with responsible gun ownership.”
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. The latest incident occurred over the weekend in Ogden, Utah, when an 11-year-old girl found her grandparents handgun hidden under the bed and while moving the gun, unintentionally shot her 13-year-old sister in the neck.
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.
“Our daughter was killed at her best friend’s home when a father left his gun unsecured in a kitchen cabinet. He had given his daughter a false sense of security about handling the gun without adult supervision and an unreasonable amount of responsibility,” said Jacob and Darchel Mohler, who founded The Brooklynn Mae Mohler Foundation to promote safe gun storage and keep children safe from gun violence. “We want responsible gun owners to lock up their guns, and for parents to ask the only question that we didn’t, ‘Do you keep unsecured firearms in your home?’ It may have saved Brooklynn’s life — and it can make an immediate impact in stopping these completely preventable deaths.”
The Brooklynn Mae Mohler Foundation supports the BeSMART campaign and its non-political approach to preventing child access to firearms.
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.