Two Children a Week Killed in U.S. by Accidental Shootings
Because of the way shooting statistics are compiled, it’s been difficult to get a handle on how many children die each year due to accidental shootings. But a new study has come up with numbers that dwarf previous estimates of the extent of the tragedy.
More than 100 children died as a result of accidental shootings from December 2012 to December 2013, according to a study sponsored by Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. That total is 61% higher than federally compiled figures.
Seventy percent of the deaths could have been prevented by the simple action of locking away the firearms and leaving them unloaded. Studies have shown that when pediatricians speak to parents about the importance of gun safety, gun owners were more than twice as likely to store their firearms safely. However, the National Rifle Association has fought such measures, encouraging state legislatures to make such conversations illegal. They were successful in Florida, where a bill signed by Governor Rick Scott (R) subjected physicians who asked patients about gun ownership to disciplinary action. A federal court struck down the law on First Amendment grounds, but Scott is appealing. Montana made it illegal for physicians to use gun ownership as a criterion to decide which patients to treat.
The study also found that the majority of accidental shooting deaths of children are performed by other children. In 73% of the cases, the shooter was age 14 or under. The shooters and victims are also overwhelmingly men and boys: 82% of shooters and 77% of victims were male. The deaths also usually occurred in familiar surroundings. Sixty-one percent were in the victim’s home, with 10% in a relative’s home, 10% in a friend’s home and 3% in a relative’s car.
States that have Child Access Prevention (CAP) laws experience fewer nonfatal gun injuries and self-inflicted gun injuries that those without such laws. Those kinds of laws are in effect in 28 states and the District of Columbia. Other studies have shown that states that passing tougher CAP laws, such as Florida did in 1989, leads to significant declines in unintentional child shooting deaths.
The study recommended that all states adopt CAP laws. Further, it called on Congress to increase funding for public health research into unintentional shooting of children and appropriate funding for the Consumer Product Safety Council to evaluate gun safety technologies.
To Learn More:
Innocents Lost (Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America) (pdf)
Kid Shootings (Ceasefire Oregon Education Foundation, Moms Demand Action, Protect Minnesota, States United to Prevent Gun Violence)
How Often Do Children in the U.S. Unintentionally Shoot And Kill People? We Don’t Know. (by Mark Berman, Washington Post)
Review Finds Twice as Many Accidental Gun Deaths of Children as Reported (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Danny Biederman, AllGov)
Average of 2 Children Shot to Death in U.S. Every Week (not including Accidents) (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
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