There are numerous proposals floating around Congress for reducing America’s gun violence epidemic, including:
Shutting down online gun sales.
Strengthening background checks.
And banning people on the terrorist watch list from purchasing firearms.
But in its latest PSA, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence has introduced a solution for ending gun-related deaths that you’ve probably never considered:
Cracking down on America’s toddlers.
“Americans are shot by toddlers at least once a week,” the one-minute video notes. We need to lock them up. Not the guns — that’s just un-American. Round them up. Deport them. Get them out of our country. And keep them away from guns.”
The idea of deporting toddlers is clearly satirical, but the organization claims that it highlights an actual problem.
“This PSA is satire,” Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign, said. “But the public health crisis it calls attention to is anything but. Whether the trigger is pulled by a toddler, a convicted felon, domestic abuser, or terrorist, we have a problem in America with guns too easily falling into the wrong hands. And that translates to hundreds of lives lost or changed forever every single day.”
Last week, the Associated Press and USA Today released findings from a 2½-year analysis of minors killed by firearms. The study — which looked at accidental shootings involving children ages 17 and younger from Jan. 1, 2014, to June 30 of this year — analyzed more than 1,000 incidents in total, according to USA Today.
Researchers relied on several sources of information, including news reports, public sources and data collected by the Gun Violence Archive, a nonpartisan research group, the paper reported.
What did researchers discover?
“During the first six months of this year, minors died from accidental shootings — at their own hands, or at the hands of other children or adults — at a pace of one every other day, far more than limited federal statistics indicate.”
Researchers also concluded that, in at least one year, government statistics failed to capture the full extent of accidental gun deaths involving minors. In 2014, the study reported, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concluded that 74 minors died from accidental discharges of firearms. The AP and USA Today review, however, put that number far higher, at 113, for the same year.
“Deaths and injuries spike for children under 5, with 3-year-olds the most common shooters and victims among young children,” USA Today reported. “Nearly 90 3-year-olds were killed or injured in the shootings, the vast majority of which were self-inflicted.”
An analysis of shootings involving toddlers last year by The Washington Post’s Christopher Ingraham found that the number of shootings don’t necessarily reflect a state’s population. During his study, for example, California, the most populous state in the nation, didn’t have any shootings involving toddlers, but Missouri had five.
According to Ingraham:
Roughly once a week this year, on average, a small child has found a gun, pointed it at himself or someone else, and pulled the trigger. Boys are disproportionately likely to do this: I could find only three cases where a girl under the age of 4 wounded someone with a gun. In 13 of the 43 total incidents, a child’s self-inflicted injuries were fatal. In two other cases, another person died after being shot by a toddler: a father in Alabama, and a 1-year-old in Ohio.
In one instance, a 3-year-old managed to wound both of his parents with a single gunshot at an Albuquerque motel.
The AP and USA Today analysis found that states in the Deep South — places like Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Georgia — have some of the highest per capita rates of accidental shootings involving minors.
“The extent of the problem is a little bit shocking,” Lindsay Nichols, an attorney at the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence in San Francisco, told USA Today. “The extent of the undercount is a little bit shocking. A lot of it provides further evidence that this is such a horrible pattern that continues and that more action is needed.”
Last week, a 3-year-old boy in a suburb outside Chicago was killed after shooting himself in the head with his father’s gun, according to the Waukegan Police Department.
Investigators believe that Jeremiah Banks woke up just before 3 a.m. and went into his parents’ bedroom, where he found his father’s handgun on a dresser. The boy went into the living room, police said, and shot himself in the head.
“Detectives will meet with the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office (LCSAO) in the near future and review the case for possible charges,” police said. “The mother and father are not in police custody.”