Disturbing data: Every week a toddler shoots a person or themselves

© Waleed Fares
Children under four shoot either someone else or themselves more than you might expect. While no official statistics are available, there have been at least 43 such news stories so far this year, averaging one a week.

Children under four shoot either someone else or themselves more than you might expect. While no official statistics are available, there have been at least 43 such news stories so far this year, averaging one a week.

Aggregated by The Washington Post’s Christopher Ingraham, the incidents involved toddlers shooting themselves in nearly three out of four cases, with the child dying about 42 percent of the time. On two occasions, another person was shot dead at the hands of a toddler.

The most recent event happened this week in South Carolina when a two-year-old in the backseat of a car found a gun in a pouch behind the front passenger seat. He fired it through the seat, hitting his 40-year-old grandmother. The woman, while injured, is expected to survive, while the driver – the victim’s sister – has promised to keep her gun locked in the dashboard or in the trunk from now on.

Overall, 13 toddlers have killed themselves, 18 have injured themselves, 10 injured other people and two killed others. Of the 43 gun-toting tykes, 30 were three-year-olds, 12 were two-year-olds, and one was only one year old.

The 43 cases this year took place across 24 states, with five in Missouri, four in Florida and three each in Texas, South Carolina and Michigan. Interestingly, nearly all of the 43 cases cited this year involved male shooters. Girls under four years of age were the shooters in just three stories.

In June 2013, another journalist compiled news reports which calculated that there had been 21 shootings at the hands of children who were aged between two and six. Eleven of the cases were fatal.

Are these types of scenarios on the rise? It’s impossible to tell as there are no corroborating official statistics. However, the solution to the problem is close at hand, and very simple, according to Everytown for Gun Safety.

In 2014, the organization, which is pushing for stricter gun control laws, conducted research into the gun deaths of children aged 14 and younger, showing that “70 percent (62 of 89 cases) could have been prevented if the firearm had been stored locked and unloaded.”

A 2012 poll by General Social Survey found that 31 percent of US homes have at least one child under 18 and a gun.