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Tragic Unintentional Shooting in Westminster Came Amid Spike in Colorado Gun Sales, More Children at Home With Firearms

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to force people to shelter in place, gun violence of all types has not stopped— including in Colorado. On Tuesday, a 3-year-old girl was unintentionally shot and killed by her 7-year-old brother in their Westminster home. The two siblings were playing when the older brother found an unsecured, loaded shotgun, according to police officers on the scene.  

Like states around the country, Colorado has seen a rise in gun sales. According to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), the number of background checks conducted in the state during March 2020 was nearly 65 percent higher than in March 2019.   

“This increase in gun sales is bringing increased risks into Colorado homes,” said Leslie O’Brien, a volunteer with the Colorado chapter of Moms Demand Action. “With children and teens home from school for the foreseeable future, storing firearms unloaded, locked, and separate from ammunition is more important than ever.” 

Last month, Colorado lawmakers introduced HB20-1355, which would require firearms that a juvenile or prohibited person might be able to access to be securely stored when not under the control of the gun owner, and HB20-1356, which would require gun owners to report to law enforcement when a gun is lost or stolen.  

Over 750 Coloradans are shot and killed every year, and firearms are the leading cause of death among children and teens in Colorado, where an average of 58 children and teens die by guns every year, and 60 percent of these deaths are suicides. Gun suicides among children and teens in Colorado have increased 61 percent from 2009 to 2018. Secure firearm storage reduces the risk of gun violence, particularly among children, by helping to prevent unintentional shootings and gun suicides.  

Recently, the Denver Public Schools Board of Education voted unanimously to approve a resolution to require information be sent home with students to educate parents on the importance of securely storing the firearms they own. Parents or guardians need to sign and return the letter acknowledging they have read the information. 

If you have any questions, or would like to speak with volunteers with Colorado Moms Demand Action, Students Demand Action or survivors of gun violence, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

More information about secure storage available here. Statistics about gun violence in Colorado are available here, and information on how Colorado’s gun laws compare to other states’ overall is available here.