As we wrap up 2016, a look back reveals it was another dangerous year for American children when it comes to unintentional child shootings. Recent headlines show a startling trend of the dangers that can occur when children gain access to unsecured firearms – particularly two-year-olds. Nationwide, there have been at least 25 unintentional shootings by two-year-olds so far this year, resulting in five deaths and 20 injuries. All 25 incidents could have reasonably been prevented had the gun been stored responsibly, locked and unloaded.
In fact, during a recent one-month span – October 17 to November 15 – there were at least three unintentional shootings by two-year-olds, with all three resulting in injuries:
- 10/17/2016 Tucson, AZ: A two-year-old boy found his mother’s handgun in his home, and was holding it when his mother tried to take the gun back from him, causing the boy to discharge the gun and shoot his mother in the arm. She was taken to a local hospital and treated for non-life threatening injuries.
- 11/10/2016 Gaston, NC: A two-year-old boy found his father’s handgun and unintentionally discharged it, shooting himself in the stomach. He was taken to a local hospital and treated for non-life threatening injuries. The boy’s father, Michael Walls, was arrested and charged with leaving an unsecured weapon out, and child neglect and endangerment.
- 11/15/2016 Baton Rouge, LA: While sitting in the back seat of his parents’ car, a two-year-old boy found a handgun and discharged it, shooting his one-year-old sister in the face. Her parents drove her to a local hospital, where she was treated for life-threatening injuries.
So far in 2016, there have been at least 230 unintentional child shootings across the country resulting in 108 deaths and 129 injuries – an average of one unintentional child shooting in America every 36 hours. As of today, Texas has experienced the most of these shootings so far this year with 21 incidents, while Georgia and Florida round round out the top three with 19 and 16 incidents respectively. By comparison, in 2015, there were at least 88 reported deaths and 194 reported injuries across 278 incidents.
In 2015, Everytown and Moms Demand Action began tracking each incident where a person 17 or under unintentionally kills or injures themselves or another person with a gun via our #NotAnAccident Index, a first-of-its-kind tracker and interactive map. Earlier this year, Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America announced that data tracked through the #NotAnAccident Index revealed an increase in reported unintentional child shooting deaths.
In efforts to address these heartbreaking, yet preventable tragedies, Moms Demand Action launched the Be SMART educational campaign to ask gun owners and non-gun owners alike to come together to reduce the number of unintentional child shootings, suicides and homicides that take place when firearms are not stored responsibly and children or teens get ahold of a gun.