Stats on Accidental Child Shootings Are Way Off
About half go unrecorded: report
By Ruth Brown, Newser Staff
Posted Sep 29, 2013 3:28 PM CDT
   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Accidental shooting deaths of children may be far more common than we realize. An investigation by the New York Times found these deaths happen about twice as often as statistics indicate, because authorities often don't record them as "accidents." The Times looked at 259 accidental firearm deaths of kids under 15 in eight states, finding about half were classified as something else—typically a homicide. In one case, a 3-year-old found his dad's gun under the couch, and accidentally shot himself in the face. "Leaving a loaded weapon in an area where the child can easily access it is neglect in our mind," says the medical examiner who worked on the case. "Therefore parents have failed to keep a child safe, and therefore it’s a homicide."

So why does it matter which "manner of death" box a coroner ticks? Because these stats are often used by pro-gun groups like the NRA to fight "safe storage" laws, or oppose government efforts to promote the development of "smart gun" technology. Other findings from the Times' investigation:

  • In almost all cases, the shooter was male, and 80% of the victims were male. Though the boys had often been lectured on safety and not touching the gun, the "magnetic attraction of firearms" often won out.
  • Some 60% of the deaths involved handguns, but for kids under 6, it was 85%.
  • The NRA claims that adult criminals are more likely to be responsible for fatally shooting kids, but the investigation found accidental child shootings were actually more likely to be self-inflicted or perpetrated by another kid.
  • Younger kids were more likely to shoot themselves. Half of the self-inflicted shootings were kids under 5, and the most common age was 3.
  • Half of the deaths took place in the kid's home, and a third occurred at a friend's or relative's house.
  • Even with the unrecorded accidental shootings counted, then number was still lower than intentional gun deaths of children—like gang shootings or murder-suicides.
Click through the read the full report.

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Showing 3 of 298 comments
2poor
Sep 30, 2013 12:51 PM CDT
"Guns are a lot like parachutes ~ If you need one and don't have one, you'll probably never need one again" Think about it!
CharlesP
Sep 30, 2013 11:05 AM CDT
I DO NOT see how it is the NRA's fault if the GOVERNMENT CANNOT ACCURATELY ACCOUNT FOR THESE CRIMES AND ACCIDENTS! Also, IF these are being called homicides, and NOT accidents, THIS JUST MEANS THE HOMICIDE STATISTICS, REGARDING GUNS IS ACTUALLY LOWER! That IS a good thing! The ANTI-GUNNERS ARE ALWAYS USING HOMICIDE STATS TO CRITICIZE GUNS! Why isn't the article CRITICIZING THESE WRONGS by anti-gunners, at the same time as criticizing the NRA????????? AREN'T THEY THEN GUILTY OF THE SAME ERROR?!!!!!!
Tomsylvania
Sep 30, 2013 9:11 AM CDT
It's amazing it's even debated. Just put the damn gun out of reach of a child, or at least the ammo.