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Unintentional Shootings by Children Have Increased in March and April, New Analysis Shows

An Estimated 1.9 Million More Guns Were Sold in March and April 2020 Compared to the Same Time Period Last Year

Continued Surge in Gun Sales Amid Shelter-in-Place Orders Increases Risk of Unintentional Shootings

NEW YORK — Unintentional shootings by children have increased in recent months as Americans sheltered in place during the COVID-19 crisis, an analysis by Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund shows. According to the #NotAnAccident map, there were at least 21 gun deaths as a result of unintentional shootings by children in March and April 2020 — a 43% increase compared to average gun deaths during these same two months over the last 3 years.

“These numbers paint a deeply concerning picture of what happens when children get access to unsecured guns,” said Sarah Burd-Sharps, Research Director for Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund. “Kids are staying home across the country, and they’re doing so amid a surge in gun sales, which could mean an increase in new gun owners unfamiliar with secure storage practices. Storing guns locked, unloaded, and away from ammunition is key to reversing this startling trend.”

With children self-quarantining in homes across the country, gun safety advocates are concerned about unintentional shootings, like a recent tragedy in New Mexico in which a 13-year-old allegedly unintentionally shot and killed his own cousin. Nearly 77 percent of unintentional shootings by children take place inside the home.

So far in 2020, there have been at least 104 unintentional shootings by children 17 and younger in which they shot themselves or others. This has resulted in 34 deaths and 73 injuries — nearly one shooting by a child per day. And this may not be the full story. The #NotAnAccident map relies on media coverage to track these tragic shootings, and with strained resources and journalists curtailed in their ability to cover news, it is likely these incidents are currently being underreported.

Across the country, volunteers with Moms Demand Action advocate for the Be SMART program to inform community members on the simple steps we can all take to keep our families safe by keeping guns securely stored. The program asks parents and caretakers, gun owners and non-gun owners alike, to ‘Be SMART’ and take these simple steps: 

  • Secure all guns in homes and vehicles
  • Model responsible behavior
  • Ask about firearms in other homes your child visits
  • Recognize the role of guns in suicide 
  • Tell your peers to Be SMART

In April, Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund unveiled a new PSA elevating its Be SMART program and secure gun storage.