Accidental shootings in the US kill 100 children a year, report finds

Many tragedy resulted from children playing with unsecured guns

The toll of school shootings in the US is well-documented but a new report has revealed the staggering scale of accidental shootings, killing 100 children a year.

A report by groups calling for tighter firearm controls claims that two children are killed on average every week, mostly in the family home or a car belonging to a relative.

Many of the tragedies last year came down to simple safety failures, with youngsters being able to access unsecured weapons.

A two-year-old boy shot himself in the chest on Christmas Day after picking up the handgun his father had left on the lounge table and another boy, aged 11, was shot in the neck as he tried to take a gun away from his toddler siblings.

Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, who released the report with fellow campaign group Everytown, said the majority of deaths could have been prevented.

“When a child dies or is injured because a gun is left unsecured in a home, it’s not an accident,” she added.

“Now that school’s out for summer, more children will be playing at home throughout the next few months, making it even more important for gun owners to safely store their guns at home.”

A student holds a candle for Emilio Hoffman the victim of today's school shooting at a vigil on June 10, 2014 in Troutdale, Oregon. A gunman walked into Reynolds High School with a rifle and shot 14 year old Hoffman to death on Tuesday, in what is the the third outbreak of gun violence in a U.S. school in less than three weeks. A student holds a candle for Emilio Hoffman, a victim of the Reynolds High School shooting on 10 June According to the report, “Innocents Lost: A Year of Unintentional Child Gun Deaths” about a third of American children live in homes with firearms – and 43 per cent of those contain at least one that is unsecured.

That makes two million children in homes with unsecured guns, of which 1.7 million also have them loaded.

Toddlers from the age of two to four were at the highest risk of unintentionally shooting themselves, the research found, while 12 to 14-year-olds were most likely to be accidentally shot by a peer.

Boys fall victim more than three times as often as girls and are also 10 times more likely to be the shooter.

In 58 per cent of cases from December 2012 to 14 December 2013 examined, the victim was killed by someone else, and in 36 per cent the victim shot themselves.

Ava Frisinger’s nephew was shot dead accidentally by another child.

She said: “Sadly we see almost twice a week how dangerous the consequences can be. We need to do more to keep kids away from unsecured firearms.”

The groups called for tighter laws allowing criminal charges to be brought in all states against gun owners whose children access their firearms.

More secure storage and “smart gun” technology to prevent accidental fire as well as more education on safety was recommended.

John Feinblatt, the president of Everytown for Gun Safety, claimed the pro-gun lobby had tried to stop doctors talking to shooting victims about gun safety.

He said: “Sensible measures that will deter irresponsible gun storage respect the rights of lawful gun owners while also protecting our kids from danger.”

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