JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – 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 Florida suffered at least five unintentional shootings involving children, resulting in four injuries and one death in 2015—including shootings in Davie, East Lake, Jacksonville and Orlando.
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 and grandparent, I was shocked to see how many unintentional child shootings there are here in Florida,” said Chryl Anderson, the volunteer chapter leader for the Florida chapter of Moms Demand Action. “I do everything in my power to keep my grandchildren 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 Florida shootings on the #NotAnAccident Index are:
• January 21, 2015, East Lake, FL
Two-year-old Kaleb Ahle found an unlocked .380-caliber firearm in the glove compartment of the family vehicle and unintentionally discharged the weapon, killing himself. The gun belonged to his father, Kevin Ahle, who heard the gunshot and called law enforcement. Police said it appeared Kevin had taken reasonable steps to secure the weapon and that he would not be charged.
• February 2, 2015, Davie, FL
A three-year-old boy found his mother’s gun in her purse, and unintentionally fired it, hitting his mother in the leg while she slept. She was treated at a local hospital, released, and charged with culpable negligence by storing or leaving a loaded firearm within easy reach of a minor.
• February 11, 2015, Orlando, FL
According to investigators, a four-year-old boy found a gun on the floor of his mother’s vehicle and when he picked it up, the gun discharged, hitting him in the leg. The boy’s mother drove her son to the hospital, and police learned of the shooting when doctors called them. The mother said she did not know the gun was in the vehicle, and she is not facing criminal charges.
• February 23, 2015, Jacksonville, FL
A 14-year-old boy was playing with a rifle when he unintentionally shot another 14-year-old boy, hitting him in the lower torso. At first the teens told police that they were victims of a drive-by shooting, but they later explained that one had shot the other. Authorities said they would not charge the teens, but were investigating who owned the gun. They did not believe the gun belonged to anyone in the teen’s family.
• May 6, 2015, Jacksonville, FL
While their mother was out grocery shopping, an 11-year-old boy unintentionally shot his twin brother in the shoulder while playing with their parents’ long-barreled rifle in their home. The victim was treated at a local hospital for non-life threatening injuries. Police are investigating, and as of May 7 have not filed any charges.
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 Floridians talking about basic gun safety and preventing further tragedy,” continued Anderson. “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.