Over the past month, there have been several unintentional shootings by children across the country, including multiple heartbreaking incidents where children have shot and killed their parents with an unsecured gun.
Last week, a toddler in Florida unintentionally shot and killed a woman, later identified to be the toddler’s mother, during a video call after finding an unsecured handgun. A two-year-old in North Carolina unintentionally shot and killed his father after finding and playing with an unsecured firearm earlier this month. At the end of July, a teenager in Oklahoma unintentionally shot and killed his mother, later tragically dying by gun suicide.
As gun sales and gun violence have increased over the last year, so have unintentional shootings by children. According to the Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund’s #NotAnAccident Index, there have been at least 243 unintentional shootings by children, resulting in 95 deaths and 160 injuries nationally so far this year.
Research shows that securely storing firearms — unloaded, locked, and separate from ammunition — can help prevent children from accessing unsecured firearms and reduce the risk of gun violence. There are an estimated 265 million civilian-owned firearms in the United States, and more than one-third of homes contain at least one gun. By securely storing their firearms, gun owners can help prevent tragedies like these from occurring, limiting access to firearms by children and other people who are at risk of harming themselves or others.
To better protect communities from gun violence and prevent child access to firearms, communities can implement secure storage education programs.
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