The Texas chapter of Moms Demand Action, part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s grassroots networks, released the following statement in response to an unintentional shooting this week in Houston after a four-year-old found an unsecured pistol and shot and wounded his one-year-old brother.
“This whole year we’ve been rocked by story after story of mass shootings, homicide, stray bullets and unintentional shootings,” said Maritza Wong, a volunteer with the Texas chapter of Moms Demand Action. “We can’t afford to beat around the bush with conversations about gun storage while our children pay the price. As adults, we are responsible for keeping our kids safe. That means having conversations with friends and family asking if they own guns, and how they are stored. None of our loved ones, neighbors, friends or family, should have to pick up the pieces of shattered lives after a preventable tragedy.”
This comes just two months after a previous unintentional shooting in Harris County, Texas. In April, a CBS report quoted Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez saying, “We continue to send the message that this is very preventable. You’ve got to be sure you’re being a responsible gun owner, securing your weapons in a safe place. It’s got to be more than just telling young kids not to touch the weapons. You know, we’ve got to do a little more. We see far too many tragic situations like this unfold.” Following this week’s shooting, Harris County Major Saul Suarez was quoted in ABC coverage encouraging gun owners in the community to practice secure firearm storage to prevent unintentional shootings.
Throughout the US, an estimated 13 million households with children under the age of 18 contain at least one gun. Not all of these firearms are stored securely: approximately 4.6 million children live in a household with at least one gun that is stored, while loaded and unlocked. Even toddlers are capable of finding unsecured guns at home, and they are strong enough to pull the trigger. Research by Everytown shows access to guns by children five and younger has been driving a recent increase in unintentional shootings by children. This year, Everytown for Gun Safety’s #NotAnAccident Index has tracked at least 114 unintentional shootings by children, resulting in 47 deaths and 69 injuries nationally — at least 36 of the shooters this year were aged five or younger.
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, youth suicide, and gunfire on school grounds.
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 secure firearm storage and the most effective ways to protect children from unsecured firearms, visit BeSMARTforkids.org. Additional information about unintentional shootings by children can be found here, facts and resources about child gun suicide can be found here, and information about gunfire on school grounds can be found here.