The West Virginia chapter of Moms Demand Action, part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s grassroots networks, released the following statement after a shooting in Charleston in which a 6-year-old boy unintentionally shot himself in the hand while at home. The injury is reportedly not life-threatening. Details are still developing.
This is the second unintentional shooting by a child in Charleston this year. In February, a 5-year-old boy unintentionally shot and wounded himself with a gun he found unsecured in his father’s car.
“Our thoughts are with this boy and his family,” said Diane Pendleton, a volunteer with the West Virginia chapter of Moms Demand Action. “This shooting is a tragic reminder of how important it is to keep guns securely stored in our homes. Too many children’s lives have been cut short because of unintentional shootings, and we need to do all we can to prevent more of these terrible tragedies in our community.”
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, there have been at least 213 unintentional shootings by children in the United States in 2021, resulting in 82 deaths and 143 injuries nationally.
Research shows that to protect children and teens, gun owners should store guns unloaded, locked, and separate from ammunition. Between March and December of 2020, there was a 31 percent increase in unintentional shooting deaths by children and an 18 percent increase in unintentional injuries, compared to the same time period in 2019.
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.