A couple years ago, Missouri had the dubious distinction of being the state with the most toddler shootings. This is when a toddler—a child under the age of four—gets their hands on a gun and either shoots him or herself or someone else. Since 2015, toddlers have on average shot someone every single week. In 2017, that rate of gun violence continued according to the Denver Post.
The Dearborn boys are at least the 42nd and 43rd people to get shot by a child under the age of 4 this year, according to a database of accidental child-involved shootings maintained by Everytown, a gun violence prevention group. On average, someone gets shot by an American toddler a little more frequently than once a week, similar to previous years.
These figures, which are compiled from media and police reports, are likely an undercount. If a child receives a relatively mild gunshot injury, such as a grazing, parents may try to keep the incident quiet and not seek medical care. It’s also possible that an unknown number of small children find guns and fire them without hitting anyone, which would not necessarily result in a medical or police report.
In many of these shooting cases, a toddler finds a gun and accidentally shoots himself with it – 27 out of the 43 toddler shootings involved self-inflicted injuries. Earlier this month in Ohio, for instance, a 3-year-old boy found his father’s loaded gun in the kitchen and fatally shot himself in the head with it.
This is not as surprising as it should be considering recent research that says 85 percent of parents who own firearms DO NOT practice correct firearm safety at home—specifically securing their firearms out of reach. According to GunViolenceArchive.org, an “online archive of gun violence incidents collected from over 2,500 media, law enforcement, government and commercial sources daily in an effort to provide near-real time data about the results of gun violence,” in the first five-plus months of 2018 there have been 139 children killed as a result of gun violence—in the United States. Now, that does not include the school shootings this year in Parkland or Texas. This number does not mean that toddlers were the ones with the guns. So far, it’s been hard to get a tally on the 2018 numbers of toddlers accidentally using firearms.
The NRA will tell you, guns don’t kill people, toddlers do; and they’re right. Those numbers do not lie. So if you have a toddler in your life, watch out! Or you can just get rid of your fucking gun and go sit on the rug and play with them. Remember, toddlers who don’t shoot themselves with guns grow up so very fast.