Deaths of children due to firearms occur far more commonly than what federal records seem to indicate, claims a new report. The report adds that children die a lot more frequently when they are in the vicinity of a legally licensed firearm.
According to a report jointly compiled by the Associated Press and USA Today Network, children die more often from accidental shootings than what federal government records indicate. The incidents involving minors and firearms are very frequent, but official statistics simply do not have the realistic and rather grim figures. Incidentally, the numbers gathered are about fatalities and not mere injuries.
Just how big is the actual number of child deaths owing to firearms? During the first six months of 2016, a child died every other day from accidental shootings either at their own hands or at the hands of other children or adult. Needless to say, this number is far higher than limited federal statistics indicate.
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The situation is invariably the same in majority of the situations. A child accidentally discovers unsecured, loaded firearms with the safety off, in their homes, garages, or vehicles. These guns have been placed there by the adults in the household as a means to defend themselves should the situation arise. However, it is the children who chance upon the firearms and play with them, with disastrous and tragic consequences. In other cases, teenagers, who are often attracted to firearms, get their hands on the handguns and attempt showing them off to their friends, with fatal repercussions.
During the independent investigations, the publications discovered children under the age of 5 are the most vulnerable when it comes to deaths and injuries due to firearms. However, accidental shootings peak between the ages of 15 and 17. It appears the victims are fatally shot by other children who managed to get their hands on a firearm. Needless to say, these non-prosecutable crimes are heavily gender-specific as majority of the victims as well as the shooters are boys. These incidents mostly happen at the children’s homes. Almost all of the shootings take place with handguns that have been legally procured for self-protection by the adults living in the house.
Apart from these findings, the research also indicates the accidental shootings often take place on weekends or around major holidays like Christmas. States in the Deep South, including Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Georgia, are among those with the highest per capita rates of accidental shootings involving minors, reported Associated Press.
According to official 2014 statistics released by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 74 minors died from accidental discharges of firearms. The independent research counted more than 110 deaths of minors. Hence it appears the federal government is falling considerably short and missing a lot of incidents, reported CBS News.
Many experts strongly believe it is the strong and influential gun lobby that prevents systematic compilation of statistics about gun injuries and deaths. It is apparent the lobby fears the actual numbers could easily push for stricter gun laws, and that would substantially eat into their business. Many have fought for stricter gun laws, but the gun lobby has managed to keep actual legislation at bay.
Accidental shootings are way less than other fatalities due to firearms in the United States, but gun safety advocates have long argued they could be prevented with stricter laws. The common suggestions include keeping the gun locked up and unloaded. However, gun rights supporters have argued these measures would make guns less than useful in case of emergencies.
It is interesting to note that Republican candidate Donald Trump and his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton both want the gun owner’s vote. Will the voices of gun safety advocates manage to reach them?
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