Oct 14, 2016
An accidental shooting kills a child roughly every other day in the U.S., far more than federal statistics indicate, according to a new report from the Associated Press and USA Today.
Using statistics from the Gun Violence Archive, a research group, as well as news reports and other public sources, the news outlets discovered that more than 1,000 minors died accidentally--either at their own hands or those of other children or adults--between January 1, 2014 and June 30, 2016.
The report also found that deaths and injuries increase for minors under five. Among young children, the most common shooters and the most common victims were three-year-olds.
The next jump comes for teenagers 15-17, who are most often shot by other kids.
These incidents most often occur in the U.S. South, the report found. The vast majority of shooters and victims were boys.
The findings are consistent with a separate analysis published earlier this week by The Trace, which monitors gun violence in the country. The outlet wrote of one instance:
[A]t a home in LeBleu Settlement, Louisiana, 3-year-old Alexis Mercer fatally shot herself with a handgun her father had just been cleaning. "It makes me angry," Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso told a local news outlet. "It makes my heart hurt. It's just something that shouldn't happen."
[....] The kids obtained these deadly weapons because an adult, usually a parent, left them loaded in a place where a child could find them.
Yet despite the availability of the information, the AP/USA Today report found that the U.S. government does not record a notable chunk of these incidents. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2014 said 74 minors had died from accidental firearm discharge that year, but AP and USA Today wrote that they counted 114--about a third higher than the government's count.
That discrepancy is particularly important, the AP/USA Today analysis notes, because it's one of the statistics often cited by the National Rifle Association (NRA) in its continued claims that gun violence is decreasing, especially for children.
Bob Anderson, chief of the mortality statistics branch of the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, told the researchers that the miscount was "significant and important," but not surprising, as the agency has long suspected that its numbers are too low.
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