Gun and Shooting Accidents

Accidents and Tragedies

Girl playing with handgun
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Childhood gun and shooting accidents are not rare.

They are one of the top ten leading causes of accidental death for all age groups outside of newborns and infants.

In 2007, there were 122 unintentional firearm deaths in children, and an additional 3,060 nonfatal gun and shooting accidents, which resulted in an estimated 1,375 children needing to be hospitalized for their injuries. Unintentional firearm deaths in children have remained at about the same levels since, with 114 deaths in children and teens less than age 18 in 2010.

These gun and shooting accidents, all tragedies, highlight the importance of learning about gun safety and discussing gun safety with your pediatrician.

Recent Gun and Shooting Accidents

Some more recent gun and shooting accidents involving children include:

  • a 4-year-old in East Orange, New Jersey who was unintentionally shot in the head and killed by his 6-year-old brother while playing with his mother's gun
  • a 4-year-old in Philadelphia who died after she unintentionally shot herself in the face with a gun she found in a bedroom of her home
  • a 4-year-old in Elgin, Iowa who died after he unintentionally shot himself in the head while visiting a home with his mother

As you can see, most gun and shooting accidents involve children who find unsecured, loaded guns around the house, in their mother's purse, or in a car, etc.

Gun Safety Advice for Parents

Again, to help prevent these types of gun and shooting accidents, learning about gun safety is important.

Unfortunately, many parents don't store their guns safely, even when they have young kids in the home. In fact, one study showed that 85% of parents who owned guns did not practice safe gun storage.

To protect children from gun and shooting accidents, the typical gun safety advice that you will get from your pediatrician includes that you:

  • keep your guns locked
  • keep your guns unloaded
  • keep your ammunition locked
  • keep your ammunition in a separate area from your gun

A safe or lock box are good places to store your unloaded guns and your ammunition. A trigger lock can also provide extra security when you store your unloaded guns in a safe or lock box.

As with other types of child safety, this type of layers of protection plan is the best way to protect children from accidentally finding a loaded gun, or finding a unloaded gun and ammunition and loading it themselves, and then shooting themselves, shooting a family member, or shooting a friend.

Don't count on your child simply knowing what to do if they find a gun. Much to their parent's surprise, one study found that most kids who find a gun will handle it, many will even pull the trigger, being unsure if the gun is real or a toy.


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