Over a three day period, three Memphis children shot themselves with negligently stored firearms. On Friday, a 4-year-old little girl was home with two other other children and their father when she picked up a gun and unintentionally shot herself with it. She was taken to the hospital in critical condition. Just one day later on Saturday, a 4-year-old boy unintentionally shot himself. He was taken to the hospital in critical condition and later died. Then, on Sunday, an 8-year-old boy found his father’s gun hidden under a pillow and shot himself with it. He did not survive.
“Once again, we see the tragic consequences of negligent gun storage,” said Beth Joslin Roth, policy director for the Safe Tennessee Project. “These shootings are not accidents. They are the direct result of an adult’s choice not to properly secure their firearm. This continues to be a serious issue in our state. Yet for two years now, our legislature’s solution to the problem is to do absolutely nothing.”
In an in-depth USA Today/AP report of unintentional shootings of children last year, Memphis was ranked first in the nation while Nashville came in tenth. A Johns Hopkins study published last year flagged Tennessee as one of seven states with a disproportionate number of unintentional shootings.
None of those seven states have laws requiring the safe storage of guns.
Tennessee’s problem with these types of shootings is not getting better and is on pace to exceed the numbers from last year. According to the database maintained by the Children’s Firearm Safety Alliance, an organization founded by Roth and Missouri state Senator Representative Stacey Newman, Tennessee currently leads the nation in shootings involving children with access to negligently stored firearms.
Of all the cities in the country, Memphis ranks first.
In Tennessee, there have been almost as many total incidents so far in 2017 as there were in all of 2016. There have been eight fatalities in 2017. There were seven in 2016.
“Everyone of these shootings is a gut wrenching tragedy, but they’re also infuriating because they could easily be prevented,” said Roth. “Sadly, our efforts to address the these children being injured and killed are ignored. We tried to pass MaKayla’s Law to hold irresponsible gun owners accountable. The bill never got out of committee. Unfortunately, we have lawmakers who indicate that they want their NRA score ‘to be as high as you can get it’ and who refer to unintentional shootings of children as ‘acts of God’ and out of our control.
“Let me perfectly clear – these shootings are not ‘acts of God’. They are 100 percent fully preventable tragedies and they are well within our control.”
Roth plans to continue to work with lawmakers to pass MaKayla’s Law and raise awareness about the importance of safe storage of firearms through her work with Safe Tennessee and the Children’s Firearm Safety Alliance (CFSA). A revised version of MaKayla’s Law, sponsored by Sen. Sara Kyle and Rep. Sherry Jones, failed in the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 22, 2017. Senators Harris, Kyle, and Kelsey voted for the bill. Senators Bell, Bowling, Lundberg, Overbey, Roberts, and Stevens voted against it.
“It is vital that parents talk to their children about gun safety, but that is not enough. Not even close,” Roth explained. “The single most important job any gun owner has is to keep their gun out of the hands of the wrong people, including and especially children. Safe storage saves lives. It would have saved the life of the 4-year-old in Memphis yesterday.”
TENNESSEE CHILDREN INJURED AND KILLED AS A RESULT OF NEGLIGENTLY STORED FIREARMS IN 2017 BY THE NUMBERS
As of 8/20/2017
As of 8/20/2016
Year end 2016
Year end 2015
According to the CFSA, Tennessee currently leads the nation in the number of these incidents
South Carolina 13
Memphis leads not only Tennessee, but the nation in the number of these incidents:
St. Louis 6
Of the nine incidents in Memphis this year, seven occurred just this summer since June 21. Two occurred over the last weekend.
Of the twenty incidents in Tennessee this year, at least twelve involved children under the age of 13, seven were toddlers or preschoolers.
Of the twenty incidents in Tennessee this year, six involved children shooting a sibling, cousin, or other relative. Eleven of the children shot themselves. In two incidents, the circumstances were unclear.
The Senate Judiciary voted against MaKeyla’s Law on March 22, 2017. There have been sixteen incidents involving children shooting themselves or someone else with a negligently stored firearms since the bill failed.
TENNESSEE INCIDENTS IN 2017
August 20, 2017 – Memphis – FATALITY
An 8-year-old boy shot himself in his home. He was taken the hospital where he later died.
August 19, 2017 – Memphis – FATALITY
A 4-year-old boy in Memphis shot himself and was in very critical condition. Not long after, he died. No word on how he was able to pick up a loaded gun or whether or not charges will be filed.
August 18, 2017 – Memphis – INJURY
A 4-year-old chid was home with two other children and their father when she picked up a gun and shot herself with it. She was taken to the hospital in critical condition. No word on how she accessed the gun or if charges will be filed.
July 8, 2017 – Memphis – FATALITY
A 3-year-old gained access to his father’s loaded, unsecured gun and fatally shot himself with it. The father kept the gun in a case, but the 3-year-old was still able to pick up the gun and pull the trigger. No word on whether charges will be fired.
July 8, 2017 – Greeneville – FATALITY
A 17-year-old was holding a gun in his home when it unintentionally discharged and killed him.
July 7, 2017 – Nashville – INJURY
A 15-year-old boy accidentally shot himself in the foot with a shotgun. Witnesses report that other teens were present. The boy was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
July 5, 2017 – Memphis – INJURY
A 12-year-old girl and her 11-year-old brother were playing with a gun at their home. The boy unintentionally fired a shot, hitting his sister in the leg. She was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries. No word on whether charges will be filed.
June 23, 2017 – Memphis – INJURY
A 14-year-old child unintentionally shot himself just after midnight Friday morning, according to Memphis Police Department. The child was taken to Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in non-critical condition.
June 21, 2017 – Memphis – INJURY
A 15-year-old unintentionally shot himself at a house. His condition is unknown.
June 5, 2017 – Nashville – FATALITY
A 2-year-old unintentionally shot their 7-year-old cousin. The girl was taken to the hospital where she passed away. Police have not yet indicated whether charges will be filed.
May 17, 2017 – Nashville – INJURY
A man was bathing his children around 2am. He took his 1-year-old out of the bath tub, placed him on a bed and left the room, The child found a loaded gun and fired it, grazing his face.
May 15, 2017 – Nashville – INJURY
A 3-year-old child was staying with a man and his wife when he found a loaded, unsecured gun in a bedroom and fired it, striking himself in the foot.
May 5, 2017 – Chattanooga – INJURY
A 10-year-old boy was playing with his parent’s 9mm Glock handgun as he talked to a friend on his computer when he discharged the gun and shot himself in the arm.
April 14, 2017 – Memphis – INJURY
Four boys, two brothers, and two cousins were home alone when they found a small-caliber handgun. The 13-year-old boy started playing with the gun and accidentally shot his 12-year-old cousin. The gun was left unsecured, and there were no parents at home.
April 9, 2017 – Chattanooga – FATALITY
A 13-year-old boy was shot in the head in his home in Chattanooga. Another boy in the house, who was 16, called 911. Police found no evidence that the shooting was “anything other than an accident.” The boy later died as a result of his injuries.
March 24, 2017 – Nashville – INJURY
Three teenagers were in a car when a 13-year-old was shot in the leg by someone else in the vehicle.
February 26, 2017 – Perry County – FATALITY
A 13-year-old boy was unintentionally shot and killed by a 12-year-old relative as the two children were in a bedroom playing with a handgun taken from a family member’s backpack. The victim was taken to Perry County Hospital where he died from his injuries.
February 20, 2017 – Memphis – INJURY
A 4-year-old was unintentionally shot by his brother. The brother was playing with the gun and dropped it, causing it to discharge. The children’s grandmother claims she fired a gun to intimidate people she said had shot into her home. She said she put the gun “back into the box but forgot to lock it.”
January 17, 2017 – Cocke County – FATALITY
The mother of a 12-year-old boy called EMS to report that her son had shot himself. Upon arrival, EMS tried to revive the child but he did not survive.
January 17, 2017 – Springfield – INJURY
A 5-year-old found a handgun in a bedroom and fired it, striking the child’s 9-year-old cousin in the arm. No charges have been filed.