Susan Perry of the online newspaper MinnPost reports that firearm-related injuries were the fifth leading cause of injury-related deaths among U.S. children aged 1 to 4, with 101 deaths in all. Drowning was the leading cause with 425 deaths.
According to the report, the rate of firearm-related deaths among toddlers up to the age of 4, nearly doubled from 2006 to 2016.
The authors of the study attribute that to an increase in the number of handguns kept in the home while possessions of long guns have declined.
"As they point out, handguns are easier for young children to hold, and toddlers as young as 2 years old have enough hand strength to operate them," Perry says. "Furthermore, because handguns are usually bought for personal protection, they are more likely to be stored loaded with ammunition and in an easily accessible location, such as a bedroom drawer."
Most gun deaths in very young children are unintentional, she says, with kids thinking the gun they found is a toy.
The study’s authors stress that all gun owners with children should make sure their guns are stored unloaded and under lock and key — even if they have given their children strict instructions not to touch the gun. Furthermore, all ammunition should be stored — and locked up — in a separate location.
Perry notes those same safety precautions need to be taken by grandparents and others who have children in their home from time to time. As other research has shown, about a third of all unintentional shootings of children occur in the homes of their friends, neighbors or relatives.
Unfortunately, more than half of U.S. households with firearms do not store their guns safely. All too often, that lack of precaution ends in tragedy.
So we ask again, "Is it safe?"
- Dr. Gatling