Yesterday, a 17-year-old boy was shot and wounded in an unintentional shooting in Philadelphia. Reports indicate that the 17-year-old was unintentionally shot by another teenager who was playing with a firearm. The victim remains in critical condition. Details are still developing.
As gun sales and gun violence have increased over the last year, so have unintentional shootings by children. During the pandemic, unintentional shootings by children have increased significantly, according to data from the Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, the research and education arm of Everytown for Gun Safety. According to the #NotAnAccident Index, Pennsylvania has seen at least 11 other unintentional shootings by children under age 18 this year, resulting in 8 deaths and 3 injuries. Firearms are the leading cause of death among children and teens in Pennsylvania.
Research shows that to protect children and teens, gun owners should store guns unloaded, locked, and separate from ammunition. An estimated 54 percent of gun owners don’t lock all of their guns securely and it’s estimated that 5.4 million children live in a home with at least one unlocked and loaded gun, an increase of 800,000 children since 2015. A new Everytown report found that between 2015 and 2020, there were at least 2,070 unintentional shootings by children resulting in 765 deaths and 1,366 injuries. Teenagers ages 14 to 17 are most often the shooters and victims in these unintentional shootings, followed by toddlers and preschoolers ages 0 to 5.
In an average year, over 1,500 die by guns in Pennsylvania, and over 3,000 more are wounded — including thousands shot and killed by city gun violence, domestic violence, and gun suicide that often doesn’t make the news.
Developed by the Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund and Moms Demand Action, the Be SMART program helps parents and other adults normalize conversations about gun safety and take responsible actions that can prevent child gun deaths and injuries.
The program encourages parents and adults to:
- Secure all guns in their home and vehicles
- Model responsible behavior around guns
- Ask about the presence of unsecured guns in other homes
- Recognize the role of guns in suicide
- Tell your peers to be SMART
For more information on the Be SMART program and how to safely secure your firearms, visit the Be SMART website. Additional information about unintentional shootings is here. If you are interested in speaking with a policy or research expert, please don’t hesitate to reach out.