Last Friday, police in Norwalk, Ohio received a call from a pregnant mother who had been unintentionally shot by her two year old son at home. Reports indicate that the two-year-old had obtained the firearm stored in a nightstand. This shooting is one of the most recent to garner national attention as unintentional shootings continue to rise across the country.
“Day after day, families are being torn apart by completely preventable tragedies,” said Laura Irvin, Moms Demand Action volunteer and Be SMART advocate. “Guns don’t belong in the hands of toddlers who are clearly curious enough to find them and strong enough to pull the trigger. The responsibility is on adults to prevent these tragedies, and that starts with simply securely storing firearms.”
“Our children deserve to grow and thrive without the threat of being shot, which is why we must continue to advocate for safe storage practices,” said Dr. Annie Andrews, a pediatrician, pediatric firearm injury expert and senior advisor at Everytown for Gun Safety. “Guns have become the leading killer for young people in America. Our gun violence epidemic continues to devastate families and communities across the country and it is the responsibility of adults – gun owners and non-owners alike – to keep spreading the word that secure storage is vital to responsible gun ownership.”
Recent preventable, unintentional shootings include:
- A 3-year-old in Trenton, New Jersey who fatally shot himself after finding a loaded gun at home
- A 2-year old in Dearborn, Michigan who shot himself after finding a loaded gun at home
- An infant in Detroit, Michigan who was unintentionally shot and wounded by a 6-year-old sibling
Guns are the number one killer of children and teens in America. 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 loaded and unlocked. To address this public safety issue, Moms Demand Action volunteers advocate for the Be SMART program to reduce the number of shootings that occur when guns are not stored securely.
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.