National Index Shows At Least 31 Deaths, 102 Unintentional Shootings Involving Children This Year, One Every 36 Hours; Everytown and Moms Launch “Be SMART” Campaign to Reduce Child Shootings; BeSMARTforkids.org
GREENVILLE, S.C. – The South Carolina chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, part of Everytown for Gun Safety, today released the following statement in response to Saturday’s reported unintentional shooting in Myrtle Beach in which a 3-year-old boy shot and injured himself after finding a handgun in a dresser drawer.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the young child who was injured over the weekend. Sadly, these tragedies happen all too often. Recent research from Everytown for Gun Safety reveals there have been at least 102 unintentional child shootings in 2015 so far—an average of one in America every 36 hours,” said Sylvie Dessau, the volunteer chapter leader for the South Carolina chapter of Moms Demand Action. “We encourage parents and adults—gun owners and non-gun owners alike—to ‘Be SMART’ and take these simple steps to help prevent shootings by children: Secure all guns in your homes 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.”
Everytown and Moms Demand recently launched the #NotAnAccident Index and interactive map, a first-of-its-kind tracking of unintentional shootings by children 17 or under across the United States. The index reveals South Carolina has suffered at least three unintentional shootings involving children, resulting in at least one death and at least two injuries in 2015—including shootings in Myrtle Beach, Summerville and Laurens.
Nationally the #NotAnAccident Index indicates that since January 1, 2015, there have been at least 102 unintentional shootings involving children, resulting in at least 73 injuries and at least 31 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.
The South Carolina shootings on the #NotAnAccident Index are:
- January 8, 2015, Laurens, SC
A four-year-old boy was playing with a gun when it discharged, wounding him in the finger. It was unclear who owned the firearm. Authorities said his parents would not face charges.
- May 10, 2015, Summerville, SC
According to two people that witnessed the incident, a 16-year old boy was playing with a 9mm handgun in his bedroom when it discharged, killing him. One of the witnesses told police that the boy had the gun for “1-2 weeks” but the witness did not know where he got it. The boy’s father also told police that he did not know where his son received the gun. As of May 14, 2015, the case was still under investigation.
- May 30, 2015, Myrtle Beach, SC
After finding a family member’s handgun in a dresser drawer, a three-year-old boy discharged the gun and shot himself. He was taken by private vehicle to a local hospital, where he underwent surgery and is expected to survive. Police said that they are not expecting to file 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.
“As a mother, soon-to-be grandmother, and gun owner myself, one of the most important things I can do is to store my gun responsibly and to ask other gun owners and parents to do the same,” said Debby Edwards, a volunteer leader with the South Carolina chapter of Moms Demand Action. “We owe it to our children to be smarter when it comes to responsible gun ownership.”
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.