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With Summer Break In Full Swing, Unintentional Shootings By Children Surge


Everytown Tracked More than 73 Unintentional Shootings by Children Since May 1; More than Three in 10 Unintentional Child Shooters Since May Were Under Six-Years-Old

Every Year, at least 350 Children In America Gain Access To A Firearm And Unintentionally Shoot Themselves Or Someone Else, Averaging Roughly One Per Day

NEW YORK For thousands of communities across America, May and June mark the end of the school year for students. Tragically, the start of summer this year has once again been plagued by senseless acts of gun violence, including a surge in unintentional shootings by children. From May 1 to June 22, Everytown for Gun Safety tracked 73 unintentional shootings by children — the most recorded during this period since Everytown started tracking in 2015. That’s an average of more than one per day. At least 23 (31.5%) of the shooters were under six-years-old. Research shows that, since 2015, the proportion of shootings by children five and under has increased while those by high schoolers has declined.

A snapshot of recent unintentional shootings by children:

  • In Indianapolis, Indiana, a particularly deadly recent weekend included three unintentional shootings by children;
  • In Norwalk, Ohio, a pregnant woman was shot and killed by her two-year-old son.
  • In Trenton, New Jersey, a toddler fatally shot himself;
  • In Michigan, a  two-year-old fatally shot himself after finding a loaded gun at home, an infant was shot and wounded by a six-year-old sibling, and a 14-year-old was unintentionally shot and killed by a friend in possession of a gun that was left unsecured in a vehicle and stolen; 
  • In Collierville, Tennessee, a three-year-old boy fatally shot himself after finding a loaded gun in a vehicle.

“It’s absolutely gut wrenching to look at the data and see how many children have accessed guns and unintentionally shot themselves or someone else already this summer, often a sibling or friend over for a playdate,” said Sarah Burd Sharps, Everytown for Gun Safety Senior Director of Research. “Gun violence is a complex issue that requires comprehensive solutions, but secure firearm storage is an incredibly simple, overwhelmingly effective way to save lives. This does not have to be the grim reality of our gun violence epidemic. Our kids can’t afford adults to neglect the basic responsibilities of gun ownership.”

“Summer vacation can be a fun time filled with curiosity, which means adults in the U.S. need to foster safe environments for our kids to explore and thrive,” said Dr. Annie Andrews, pediatrician and senior advisor at Everytown for Gun Safety. “As more kids are home from school during the summer, it’s critical to remember that talking to kids about gun safety is a precaution, not a guarantee. It’s always the responsibility of adults to securely store firearms and normalize asking about the presence of firearms when your kids are in another person’s home or car.”

Research shows the most effective way to prevent an unintentional shooting is to make sure firearms are stored as securely as possible. That means unloaded, locked by a cable lock or gun safe, and separate from ammunition. Firearms are not stored securely when they’re placed in an unlocked dresser or nightstand drawer, under a couch cushion, mattress, or pillow, in an unlocked closet, on a high shelf or on top of the refrigerator. 

Be SMART, a program of Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, 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

All across the country, volunteers, community partners, law enforcement officials, trusted experts in caregiving, gun owners and non-gun owners alike are coming together in a push to advocate for secure firearm storage. In November, Be SMART announced a partnership with the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives to spread the word about secure storage and distribute free gun locks. The partnership has already reached nineteen cities and distributed hundreds of locks.  

For more information on secure firearm storage and the most effective ways to protect children from unsecured firearms, visit Additional information about unintentional shootings by children can be found here and here. Read more about the Be SMART and NOBLE partnership here.