New Report: 1.7 Million Kids Live in Homes with Unlocked Guns

Last night in Deland, Florida, an eight-year-old boy was accidentally shot in the head by his nine-year-old sister after teenager babysitters left those children—and three others under age 10—alone at a home with a loaded and unlocked gun.  

“A 19-year-old and 15-year-old were supposed to be watching the children, but left the home and went to a store,” reported Orlando’s WESH TV 2 News.

The unidentified youth was in critical condition but was expected to live. According to the The Brady Campaign/Center to Prevent Gun Violence, he is lucky to be alive.

“This is just one of the 12 unintentional shootings that we know of where a kid got his or her hands on a gun since October 23,” said the Brady Center. “One-third (4) of these resulted in fatal injuries. Many of these are instances where a toddler was able to access a guns.”

More than 1.7 million children live in homes with unlocked, loaded guns in America, the gun-control group’s research has found. Its new report, “The Truth About Kids & Guns,” shows that children are more likely to be killed by a gun in a home than anywhere else. The findings suggest that America’s epidemic of gun violence is continuing unabated.

“Based on the most recent available data, in 2011 there were 2,703 child and teenage firearm deaths in America,” Dan Gross, Brady Center and Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence president, said in its introduction. “That’s seven of America’s youth killed every day. These youth were shot in different ways by varying intents—some were murdered, some unintentionally shot themselves or were unintentionally shot by another, and others died by their own hand. All were tragic and should lead to public outcry about the continuous threat gun violence poses to our nation’s youth.”  

Across America in 2011, 19,403 children and teens were shot, the Brady Center found. Of those, 2,703 died, making firearms the second leading cause of death for youths age one to 19. Black and Native-American male children and young men had the highest homicide rates. Native American and Whites, age 10-19, had highest suicide rates.

The states with the highest death rates were: Alabama, Alaska, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico and Wyoming. Researchers found that 76 percent of children age 5 and above knew where the guns were kept, and 87 percent of the deaths of children under age 10 occured at home.

“Most youth gun deaths involve a gun from or in a home, including school shootings, unintentional shootings, or suicides,” Fuson said. “To combat this problem, Brady has recently launched a multi-platform public awareness campaign for a future where no child is killed by a parent’s gun.”

Brady’s campaign includes digital advertisements and a public service announcement, airing nationally now, to help parents understand the risks of having a gun in the home and urge them to remove guns areas where children play. 

“Parents need to know that most youth gun deaths and injuries are preventable, including the tragic school shootings that horrify our nation,” said Gross. “Most parents bring a gun into the home with no intent of harm or wrongdoing. Yet it is these guns that cause the majority of gun deaths and injuries at home or in schools. As parents we need to recognize the risks of guns in the home and make safer choices about gun access and storage.”

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