Many people’s worst nightmare is falling victim to a mass shooting rampage. So what would you say if you knew that, so far this year, U.S. children have taken more lives than recent mass shooters combined?
According to the research below, children and teens ranging in age from three to 19 have unintentionally killed themselves or someone else with a firearm in at least 50 separate incidents since January. In comparison, 12 mass shootings in 2013 have left a total of 40 dead, not including the gunman, according to Think Progress. So, accidental child-on-child or child-on-adult gun fatalities are 25 percent higher than the mass shooting death toll so far this year.
19 Deaths in 5 Months Where Shooter Was 3 to 6 Years Old
Any accidental gun death involving children is shocking and tragic, and this is especially so in the case of toddlers and preschoolers. My research uncovered 19 gun fatalities where a preschooler pulled the trigger from Jan. 1 to June 9, 2013.
This tragic, unthinkable event has happened every month, like clock-work. What’s worse, this snapshot is probably not all-inclusive. (Thanks to both The Jewish Daily Forward and especially Daily Kos’ David Waldman for their research on this topic.)
Jan. 10: 6-year-old playmate shoots and kills 4-year-old Trinity Ross, Kansas City, Kan.
Jan. 13: 4 year old boy shot and killed his uncle, Richmond, Va.
Jan. 19: 6-year-old Nevaeh Benson shot herself in the face and died, Cleveland, Ohio.
Jan. 23: 4 year old killed himself with a gun, Akron, Ohio.
Feb. 11: 4-year-old Joshua Johnson shot, killed self, Memphis, Tenn.
Feb. 24: 4-year-old Jaiden Pratt died after shooting himself in the stomach while his father slept, Houston, Texas.
March 30: 4-year-old Rahquel Carr shot and killed either by 6-year-old brother or another young playmate, Miami, Fla.
March 31: Toddler fatally shot himself in chest while visiting relatives, Prichard, Ala.
April 6: Josephine Fanning, 48, shot and killed by 4-year-old boy at BBQ, Wilson County, Tenn.
April 8: 4-year-old boy shot and killed 6-year-old friend Brandon Holt, Toms River, N.J.
April 9: 3-year-old boy is killed after he finds a pink gun that he thinks is a toy, Greenville, S.C.
April 20: 4-year-old Cody Ryan Hall shot himself dead with family’s handgun while his mother thought he was taking a nap, Donald, Ore.
April 30: 2-year-old Caroline Sparks killed by her 5-year-old brother with his Cricket “My First Rifle” marketed to kids, Cumberland County, Ky.
May 1: 3-year-old Darrien Nez shot himself in the face and died after finding his grandmother’s gun, Yuma, Ariz.
May 7: 3-year-old Jadarrius Speights fatally shot himself with his uncle’s gun, Tampa, Fla.
May 8: 2-year-old Kinsler Allen Davis shot himself in face, died, Corsicana, Texas.
May 12: 11-year-old boy dies after a 4-year-old accidentally shoots him, Lake City, Fla.
May 29: 2-year-old boy dies after shooting himself in the face with his great-grandfather’s gun, Cherokee County, Texas.
June 7: 4-year-old boy fatally shot his father, Green Beret Justin Thomas, Prescott Valley, Ariz.
Along with the 19 fatalities attributable to children six or younger, I came across 31 additional instances where older children and teens accidentally killed themselves, a family member or friend since January (see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here).
The above list of 50 deaths doesn’t include the unfortunate instances when a child or teen was accidentally shot and killed by an adult.
In addition, at least 34 more tots and preschoolers two to six years of age have shot but not killed themselves or someone else this year (see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here). In the first six cases, the shooter was only two years old.
It goes without saying that the children are not to blame. Most if not all of the above deaths and injuries can be attributed to careless adult gun owners.
Also disturbing is the fact that two-thirds of children and teens who are killed with a gun are homicide victims. Looking at data for the years 2008-2009, an average of 150 children and teens die from gun accidents each year — happening almost every other day — while an average of 1,946 children and teens are the victims of gun homicides annually — about 5 each day, according to a report by the Children’s Defense Fund.
We Need a Return to Sensible, Moderate Gun Use
We can’t deny that guns pose a real danger to innocent American lives, and especially to children. Having a gun in the home is associated with an increased risk of firearm homicide and firearm suicide, not to mention gun accidents, according to a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology. Proximity to a gun equals a greater risk of death regardless of factors such as the owner’s storage practice, the type of gun, or the number of firearms in the home, the study found.
Thus, the surest cure to our country’s gun violence epidemic is to reduce gun ownership. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises that removing guns from children’s homes and communities is the “most reliable and effective measure to prevent firearm-related injuries” in children and adolescents.
Recognizing that gun ownership isn’t going to drastically diminish, we must find other thoughtful and responsible approaches to reducing gun violence.
For instance, in the interest of public safety, why shouldn’t people be required to pass a written and practical safety exam before owning a gun, as we are required to do before we obtain a driver’s license? Also, why do we arrest people for possessing drugs, even something harmless like marijuana, but neglect to create uniform, national laws that hold parents criminally negligent when their children kill themselves or someone else with a gun? We are we forbidden from buying alcohol for minors but we can legally give a 5 year old his own rifle?
Something has to change.
Note: This is an updated version of a similar post the author first published at OpposingViews.com.
About the author: Stacie Borrello is an experienced blogger, freelance writer and content producer with a passion for politics and social justice. When she’s not knee-deep in current events, she enjoys providing custom web content to clients via her freelance writing business Capitalize on Content.