This Bone-Chilling Map Tells Us a Hidden Danger That's Affecting Toddlers in This Nation Every Week: Unsecured Firearms

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It kills more people than terrorism in the United States each year: Toddlers gaining possession of unsecured firearms and turning them on others—or themselves.

Responsible gun ownership dictates that those who possess them keep them out of the reach of those who cannot safely use them. Yet a toddler per week for the last two years has gotten a hold of a firearm and injured a person with it.

The Press Union issued a report about the disturbing trend, which draws on data from the Gun Violence Archive and the Children's Firearm Safety Alliance. From its release:

"At the end of 2015, one of the big news stories summing up the events of the prior year was a piece by The Washington Post.  This report highlighted the unbelievable but true fact that for every week in 2015, a toddler was responsible for shooting either themselves or another human being in the US — in some cases, fatally.

Now that 2016 is done and dusted, we can officially confirm that the concerning trend continued last year. That means, for the past 104 weeks, there has been at least one toddler somewhere in the US firing a gun and hitting themselves or another person.

In fact, the situation is getting worse: the rate of toddler shootings in 2016 was up 6% year on year, an alarming result given a continued focus on gun control in the United States."

This is not about gun control; it's about gun responsibility. Chicago is the leading city for shootings and gun homicides: it had an appalling 4,331 shooting victims and 762 murders in 2016, despite having one of the most stringent gun control regimes in the nation. And in a nation of over 270 million guns, 99.995% are not used in homicides every year.

The statistic that a toddler a week is shooting someone in the United States appears to be well-documented. A Washington Post analysis originally put forth the finding in 2015. As it restated in a May 2016 piece:

Last year, a Washington Post analysis found that toddlers were finding guns and shooting people at a rate of about one a week. This year, that pace has accelerated. There have been at least 23 toddler-involved shootings since Jan. 1, compared with 18 over the same period last year.

In the vast majority of cases, the children accidentally shoot themselves. That's happened 18 times this year, and in nine of those cases the children died of their wounds.

Toddlers have shot other people five times this year. Two of those cases were fatal: this week's incident in Milwaukee, and that of a 3-year-old Alabama boy who fatally shot his 9-year-old brother in February.

That article, unfortunately, was unable to decypher what factors caused some states to have higher toddler shooting incidence rates than other states. Illinois, the home of the gun murder capital Chicago, fortunately has no recent documented cases of toddlers shooting others.

Missouri and Georgia, on the other hand, are two states with high toddler shooting rates and few child access restrictions; but New York had no child access law and also no cases of toddler shootings.

The only effective thing it appears responsible gun owners can do to prevent such tragedies is to take matters into their own hands. The NRA recommends five different ways to store firearms to keep them away from kids:

  • Trigger Locks
  • Gun Cases
  • Strong Boxes and Security Cases
  • Locking Steel Gun Cabinets
  • Gun Safes

It's the gun owner's job to look into and decide the best method to keep his or her loved ones safe. Ultimately, we can all cherish our freedoms, but we should also be well aware of the demands on our personal responsibility.