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.
Nearly all toddler shootings involve boys. So far this year there have been just two exceptions. In March, 3-year-old Yasha Ross from Pittsburgh found a loaded gun in the home of a man she was visiting with her mother and fatally shot herself in the chest. Another 3-year-old girl shot herself in the stomach in Georgia in June. She survived.
The youngest toddler involved in a shooting this year was an 18-month-old from Nashville, who police say found a loaded pistol on a bed and shot himself in the face. His injuries were not fatal. So far this year 17 toddler shootings have ended in a fatality, while 26 resulted in a non-life-threatening injury.
“Storing guns responsibly — locked and unloaded, with ammunition stored separately — is a critical step that every gun owner can take to protect kids and adults alike from the life-threatening consequences of a curious toddler getting access to a gun,” Emily Durbin of Michigan Moms Demand Action, said in a statement Wednesday in response to the Dearborn shooting.
Police arrived to find the boy's father, Keon Myers, despondent and threatening to kill himself. Despite officers' attempts to intervene, Myers then shot himself in the head, as well. Myers and his son were pronounced dead at a hospital.