On Saturday evening in McMinnville, a 13-year-old boy unintentionally shot his 17-year-old sister as he was attempting to unload a .223 rifle. 911 operators attempted to talk the boy through performing CPR on his sister, but she was pronounced dead by first responders.
“That poor child will live the rest of his life with the knowledge that he shot his sister.” said Beth Joslin Roth, policy director for The Safe Tennessee Project. “ He will be forever haunted by memories of desperately trying to save her life. One life taken and one life forever changed in the blink of an eye. This is a terrible tragedy, all the more gut wrenching because it was 100% preventable.”
According to the Safe Tennessee Project’s database of unintentional shootings, the McMinnville shooting is the 18th incident where a child has injured or killed someone as a result of access to an unsecured firearm this year. It was the fifth time a child has unintentionally killed themselves or someone else in 2016 and the second time a sibling fatally shot another sibling. In January, an 8-year-old unintentionally shot and killed his 7-year-old brother with a gun found in their mother’s purse.
Nine children unintentionally shot themselves this year and three of them died. The youngest was only two-years-old.
In October, the USA Today and Associated Press published findings from an analysis of unintentional shootings involving children. Their reporting included not just children who unintentionally shot themselves or someone else, but also incidents where an adult unintentionally shot a child. The analysis noted that in our country, gun accidents kill a child every other day, and that Tennessee ranked 4th in the nation for these types of shootings.
“This is a real problem in our state. We have been trying to bring attention to this issue for almost two years now, ever since our organization was founded,” said Roth. “One of the most important aspects of being a responsible gun owner is making the choice to store your guns safely, especially if there are children in the home. Safe storage not only significantly reduces the chances of child shooting themselves or another person, it also reduces both firearm suicides in adolescents and the likelihood of a kid or teen bringing a gun to school. That’s why we will continue to fight for passage of MaKayla’s Law and why we will never stop talking about the importance of safe storage. Safe storage saves lives. Period.”
MaKayla’s Law was voted down in the House Civil Justice Committee in March of 2016. The McMinnville shooting was the 13th time a child has injured or killed themselves or someone else with an unsecured gun since the vote. A new version of the bill will filed for the 2017 legislative session.
The Safe Tennessee Project began tracking unintentional shootings in January of 2015.
INJURIES AND DEATHS DUE TO A CHILD GAINING ACCESS TO AN UNSECURED GUN JANUARY 2015 – PRESENT
Total incidents: 39
LEGISLATORS WHO VOTED AGAINST MAKAYLA’S LAW
Rep. Jim Coley
Rep. Mike Carter
Rep. Jon Lundberg
Rep. Martin Daniel
Rep. John Forgerty
Rep. Jamie Jenkins
Rep. Courtney Rogers