While gun accidents make up a comparatively small portion of American firearm deaths (the vast majority are intentional homicides or suicides), accidental firearm injury and death is still shockingly common, underlining the scale of America’s gun problem. Every day, local media report several cases where someone accidentally shoots himself or a friend or family member, sometimes fatally. We counted at least five gun accidents on Wednesday:
1. A 4-year-old girl was shot in the leg by a family member who was putting his gun away.
2. A 3-year-old boy found a handgun under the mattress in his parents’ bendroom and shot a family friend in the head.
3. A member of the Air Force pulled the trigger on his gun, reportedly thinking it was unloaded, and sent a bullet that hit a 14-month-old baby in the hand in a nearby apartment.
4. A woman reportedly spun her handgun around and pointed it at her head. She died of a gunshot wound to the head.
5. A 3-year-old was fatally shot in what police said appeared to be a tragic accident.
Children are especially vulnerable to gun violence, either intentional or accidental. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 129 children between age 1–19 died in gun accidents in 2010 (even more take their own lives using a gun belonging to a parent). A Harvard study linked prevalence of guns to unintentional gun-related deaths, finding that the four states with the highest gun ownership rates had mortality rates seven times higher than the four states with the lowest ownership rates.
There’s no real evidence suggesting that family homes with guns are less likely to be victims of crime than ones without deadly weapons.