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Toddler Dies After Unintentionally Shooting Himself In Greenville, North Carolina, Highlighting Need for Secure Storage Legislation 

February 5, 2024

GREENVILLE, N.C. – The North Carolina chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s grassroots network, released the following statement in response to a toddler unintentionally shooting himself in Greenville. With details still emerging, reports show the Greenville Police Department received a call about a shooting at Wildwood Villas on Beech Street on Friday night. Police say an initial investigation shows the child got a hold of a gun and shot himself. This is at least the third such reported incident in Eastern North Carolina since January. In one other case, a child died.

In June, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper recently took active measures against reckless acts of gun violence with the newly enacted statewide initiative, Secure All Firearms Effectively (S.A.F.E), which provides resources on best practices for firearm storage and safety. This program will promote safe and responsible firearm ownership in North Carolina, however, stronger legislation to require individuals to securely store their firearms can save more lives, with states including California, Connecticut, and Oregon having already done so.

“As we grieve the loss of an innocent child in our community, we also must understand that it is long overdue that lawmakers pass secure storage legislation to save lives. These instances are not accidents, they’re unintentional because gun violence is preventable,” said Kristin Michaels, a volunteer with the North Carolina chapter of Moms Demand Action. “This is an issue we all need to worry about―whether it’s your gun or not, it could be your child.”

When guns aren’t properly stored, tragedy can strike – whether it’s a child finding a firearm and injuring or killing themselves, or someone stealing it and using it to commit a crime. Secure gun storage can prevent both. Every year, 350 children living in America under the age of 18 gain access to a firearm and unintentionally shoot themselves or someone else, like a sibling, parent, friend, or another person. 

For decades North Carolina has benefited from relatively strong gun laws, however, recently the state has taken steps to weaken their laws, including by repealing requirements for prospective gun buyers to obtain a  handgun purchase permit (SB41). 
In an average year, 1,588 people die by guns in North Carolina, and 3,530 more are wounded. Guns are the leading cause of death among children and teens in North Carolina. More information on gun violence in North Carolina is available here. To speak to a North Carolina volunteer with Moms Demand Action, a volunteer with Students Demand Action, or a policy expert, please reach out to [email protected].

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