The accidental shooting of a 3-year-old boy Monday night with his father’s unsecured gun is another example of an alarming Tennessee trend. Accidental shootings of both children and especially adults are up dramatically from the end of August 2015. Although both counts are higher from this time last year, the number of adult-involved accidental shootings is particularly startling.

“At the end of last August, we’d seen a total of 14 adult-involved accidental shootings,” said Beth Joslin Roth, policy director for The Safe Tennessee Project. “So far in 2016, we’ve seen a total of 39.  A number of these shootings happened in public places and several injured innocent bystanders.  So far this year, seven Tennessee kids have been unintentionally killed with a gun.  We already knew we had a problem with these types of shootings, and it’s only getting worse.”

Using news reports and cross-checking with the Gun Violence Archive, The Safe Tennessee Project tracks all Tennessee accidental shootings reported by the media.  The majority of child-involved accidental shootings are related to children gaining access to unsecured, loaded guns, but some are the result of an adult unintentionally shooting a child.  There have been seven such unintentional shootings this year.

“When we look at the combined number of both adult and child accidental shootings, we see just how dramatic the jump in numbers is,” said Roth.  “Last year at this time, there had been a combined total of 32 accidental shootings.  This year, there have already been 62.  In all of 2015, we saw 51.”

In the 2016 legislative session, legislators voted against MaKayla’s Law, a bill that sought to hold adult gun owners responsible when their choice to leave a loaded gun accessible to a child results in the child firing the gun and injuring or killing themselves or someone else.  Since the bill was killed in committee in March, there have been ten shootings involving children and unsecured firearms, including two fatalities.  The most recent incident was the 3-year-old from last night.

Legislators also voted to force all public universities and colleges to allow permit holding faculty and full-time employees carry guns on college campuses.  The Tennessee Board of Regents, law enforcement, campus police, faculty, and students all opposed the legislation, but it was passed anyway.  Andy Holt, the house sponsor of the campus carry bill, has indicated that he plans to bring a bill in 2017 that will allow students with permits to carry guns on campus.

“Adult-involved accidental shootings come down to one common denominator – irresponsibility,” said Roth.  “A number of them occurred because a gun owner forgot to clear their gun before cleaning it while others were the result of the gun owner dropping their weapon as they got in or out of their vehicle.  Some occurred because the gun owner had been drinking. They often happen in public places such as stores or parking lots.  Several happened at the gun owner’s place of employment.  They happen to permit holders and non-permit holders. These are gun owners who can’t practice basic gun safety, but we are supposed to trust them to carry guns in public places.”

Due to the number and frequency of accidental shootings in Tennessee, The Safe Tennessee Project created a searchable database to track them.  Incidents can be searched by age(adult or child), type (unintentional or storage-related), deposition (injury or fatality), as well as by city, permit status, and whether the shooting was self-inflicted or involved another person.  Click here to access the database.

Click here for a list of all 2016 Tennessee accidental shootings.

Click here for a list of all 2015 Tennessee accidental shootings.

Click here for a list of all Tennessee accidental shootings involving children with access to unsecured guns.


August 30, 2016 – Nashville – CHILD – Injury
A 3-year-old gained access to his father’s loaded, unsecured gun and shot himself in the hand.  He was taken to the hospital.  His injuries are not considered life-threatening.  The gun belonged to the child’s father who is a security guard with a gun permit.

August 29, 2016 – Chattanooga – ADULT – Injury
A part-time employee at a UPS facility accidentally shot themselves in the parking lot. Although UPS does not allow guns on the premises, a new law effective July 1st allows guns to be kept in their vehicle even if their employer objects.

August 26, 2016 – Murfreesboro – ADULT – Injury
A 22-year-old man accidentally shot himself in the hand.  Police found spent shell casing in the living room of the home. A hole in the kitchen wall led to the adjacent unit. Inside that unit, there was a hole in the wall that led to the living room couch. He was taken to Vanderbilt Hospital.  His injury was not considered life-threatening.

August 24, 2016 – Paris – ADULT – Injury
A 19-year-old man initially told police that he had been the victim of a drive by shooting but later admitted that he had shot himself in the foot.  No charges were filed against the man.

August 21, 2016 – East Ridge – ADULT – Injury
Officers were responding to a shooting call when they encountered two individuals who told the officers that the shooting was an accident and that they were taking themselves to the hospital.  Both men had been injured.

Hendersonville – August 8, 2016 – CHILD – Fatality
An 11-year-old girl was accidentally shot by her father.  He was awakened by a sound and shot at his daughter.  The girl died from her injuries.  Initially the father told police she had been shot outside the home after getting off the school bus. The father has been charged with reckless homicide, tampering with evidence, false reporting and possessing a firearm as a felon.

July 30, 2016 – Murfreesboro – ADULT – Injury
A 63-year-old men who had been drinking dropped his firearm, causing it to discharge. The man was shot in the ankle.  He was issued a misdemeanor citation for possessing a firearm while under the influence.

July 15, 2016 – Greeneville – ADULT – Injury
A 42-year-old woman suffered leg wounds after the Smith & Wesson pistol she was cleaning discharged.  According the woman, she had not “cleared the weapon properly.”  She was taken to the hospital with minor injuries. No charges were filed.

July 14, 2016 – Maryville – ADULT – Injury
A 32-year-old man accidentally shot a female companion in the stomach but initially lied to responding officers, claiming the woman was shot in a home invasion.  The man was prohibited from possessing a gun and was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm and filing a false report. He was also charged with violating the conditions of his community corrections.

July 10, 2016 – Lawrence County – CHILD – Injury
An Amish boy was unintentionally shot with a .22 rifle by another Amish boy while the two were playing. The victim was taken to Vanderbilt for treatment.

July 3, 2016 – East Ridge – CHILD – Fatality
A 17-year-old accidentally shot herself with a revolver in an apartment she was visiting in East Ridge. No details on who the gun belonged to. The girl later died from her injuries.

July 1, 2016 – Clarksville – CHILD – Fatality
A 3-year-old toddler fatally shot himself in the face with a .40 caliber pistol. The child was visiting from Fort Riley, Kansas, with his family. The gun belonged to the homeowner. No charges were filed against the gun owner.

June 27, 2016 – Jackson – ADULT – Injury
A man unintentionally shot himself on Roosevelt Parkway. The man “limped to the ambulance.” The man’s injuries were not life-threatening.

June 26, 2016 – Haywood County – CHILD – Fatality
A fight at a party ended in gunfire and 17-year-old girl was fatally shot by a stray bullet as she hid.

June 23, 2016 – Red Bank – ADULT – Injury
A Red Bank man was walking to his car when he shot himself in the leg.  He says that the gun was in his bag and he has “no idea” what caused it to fire.

June 20, 2016 – Nashville – ADULT – Injury
A man accidentally shot himself in the head at the Nashville Shores campground.  He was taken to Vanderbilt Hospital in critical condition.

June 14, 2016 – Greeneville – ADULT – Injury
An 18-year-old shot himself in the face with a .20 gauge shotgun as he was cleaning it. He said the gun discharged as he used a cleaning rod to clean the barrel of the weapon. His injuries were not life threatening.

June 9, 2016 – Memphis – CHILD – Injury
A family, including a 4-year-old boy, was locked out of their home.  A family friend attempted to climb through the window to open the door.  As he climbed through the window, a gun fell from his pants and discharged, firing a bullet that hit the 4-year-old.  The child was taken to the hospital with non-critical injuries.–injured-in-accidental-shooting–382469211.html

June 7, 2016 – Nashville – ADULT – Injury
A man was attempting to clear his pistol when it unintentionally fired two rounds into his leg.  He was hospitalized and is reported to be in critical condition.

June 5, 2016 – Memphis – ADULT – Injury
A Memphis man unintentionally shot himself in the leg.  He was hospitalized with non-critical injuries.