- Unintentional gun deaths in children rose by a third from March to December 2020 compared to the same time frame in 2019, according to new data from Everytown.
- 2021 is set to see the highest number of these incidents ever, if it stays on pace with the first six months of the year.
- These incidents take place overwhelmingly when children are at home and in states without secure storage or child access prevention laws.
Accidental deaths from gunshots among children jumped 31 percent during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic — March 2020 to December 2020 — when compared to that same timeframe in 2019, new data from Everytown reported.
The nonprofit, which advocates for gun safety, has tracked unintentional gun injuries and deaths by children since 2015. According to their #NotAnAccident index, there were 2,070 accidental shootings by children since then, resulting in 756 deaths and 1,366 injuries.
This year is expected to exceed that high number, according to Everytown. The first six months of 2021 saw the highest number of gun-related incidents involving children in the last seven years.
Gun sales surged in 2020 by 64 percent, and the number of children living in a home with at least “one loaded, unlocked gun” increased from 4.6 million in 2015 to 5.4 million in 2021, according to the nonprofit and federal data.
Of the unintentional shootings reported, seven out of 10 occurred in homes and were most frequently when children were likely to be home, like over the weekend, over the summer, or during holidays. It is notable that children have been spending much more time at home since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.
In the six years Everytown has been tracking these incidents, teenagers aged 14-17 made up the largest age group of children involved in unintentional shootings, but the second-largest age group was children aged five and younger. “In 2020 alone, at least 125 toddlers and pre-kindergarteners ages five and under shot themself or someone else,” according to Everytown.
“Shootings by children are most often the shootings of children,” according to Everytown. “Ninety-one percent of those injured or killed in unintentional shootings by children were also under 18.”
Boys held the majority as both unintentional shooters and victims in these situations over the six-year period in consideration. Eighty-three percent of shooters and 76% of victims were male. This fact does not vary much based on age group.
When it comes to location, the 10 states with the highest death rate from unintentional child shootings were 12 times higher than the 10 states with the lowest death rate from these incidents.
This is likely due to secure storage or child access prevention laws in certain states. According to Everytown, “rates of death or injury from these shootings in states with no secure storage laws were double to triple the rates in states with laws that hold gun owners accountable when children can or do access an unsecured gun.”