WHEN PEOPLE ARE IRRESPONSIBLE WITH GUNS, PEOPLE GET HURT

Owning a gun is a tremendous responsibility.  The majority of Tennessee gun owners take that responsibility seriously.  Unfortunately, some do not and their carelessness leads to “accidental shootings”, “hunting accidents”, “accidental discharges”, and “accidental shootings” of children.  Their carelessness leads to injuries and deaths.

We do not consider these shootings “accidents.”  The term accident implies there is no one to blame or that the shooting could not have been prevented.  Every one of these shootings was preventable. Whether an adult is carelessly handling or storing their gun, if it is fired – by them or a child who gains access to it – the shooting is 100% the fault of the adult gun owner. 

We often hear that “gun don’t kill people, people kill people.”  Too often in Tennessee, people who are careless with guns kill and injure people, including kids.

When The Safe Tennessee Project was founded in 2015, we began tracking both unintentional shootings of adults and children, and “storage-related shootings” involving children who gain access to loaded, unsecured firearms.  We include both incidents where a child unintentionally shoot themselves or someone else and those incidents where a child INTENTIONALLY shoots another child.  Regardless of the child’s motive, anytime a child gains access to a gun and pulls the trigger, it is still the result of an adult’s choice to leave a gun loaded and unsecured.  Any gun in a child’s hand passed through an adult’s hand first.

A recent analysis of “accidental shootings” of children by USA Today and the Associated Press noted that in the US, gun accidents kill at least one child every other day. Tennessee is fourth in the nation for such shootings.  Memphis is the #1 city in the country for them.  Nashville is 10th.

In 2016, we tracked a total of 84 unintentional and storage-related shootings.  In 2015, we tracked 51.  The rise in these numbers is concerning, especially as lawmakers consider legislation to both expand where guns can be carried in public and allow them to open or conceal carry without requiring them to obtain a gun permit or any type of gun safety training.

Last year, The Safe Tennessee Project launched a searchable database of all Tennessee unintentional and storage-related shootings that are reported in the media.  The database can be searched by any number or combination of criteria – type, adult or child, city, incident location, age group of shooter, age of victims, outcome, and more.  All incidents are tracked from media stories, news alerts, and data from The Gun Violence Archive.  It is important that since not all unintentional shootings are reported in the media, the numbers in the database are most likely an undercount of the actual number.


For purposes of this report, incidents have been divided into three categories:

I. Unintentional shootings involving adults – where an adult unintentionally shoots and kills themselves or another adult

II. Children unintentionally shot by adults – where an adult unintentionally shoots a child

III. Storage-related shootings – unintentional or intentional shootings that result from a child gaining access to an unsecured firearm and shooting and killing themselves or another person

CARELESSNESS WITH FIREARMS IN TENNESSEE – 2016 BY THE NUMBERS

50 Adults

32 Children

2 Unknown (age of shooter not disclosed)

I. UNINTENTIONAL SHOOTINGS INVOLVING ADULTS

50 total incidents
– 44 adults shot and injured themselves or another adult
– 6 adults shot and killed themselves or another adult

WHO WAS SHOT – UNINTENTIONAL SHOOTINGS INVOLVING ADULTSfun-stops-nra

35 adults shot and injured themselves
6 shot and injured another adult
2 shot and injured themselves and another adult
5 shot and killed themselves
2 shot and killed another adult

VICTIMS’ RELATIONSHIP TO SHOOTER – UNINTENTIONAL SHOOTINGS INVOLVING ADULTS

40 adults shot themselves
4 adults shot a friend
1 adult shot themselves and a friend
4 adults shot a bystander
1 adult shot their spouse

INCIDENT LOCATION – – UNINTENTIONAL SHOOTINGS INVOLVING ADULTS

11 adults shot themselves or someone else in their home (1 person fatally shot self, 1 person fatally shot someone else)
10 adults shot themselves or someone else while cleaning or unloading their gun
5 shot themselves outside their home (1 person fatally shot self)
4 adults shot themselves or someone else in an undisclosed location
3 adults shot themselves or someone else while handling or playing with their gun
3 adults shot themselves while in a car
1 adult shot themselves at a friend’s home (1 person fatally shot self)
1 adult shot themselves at a motel (1 person fatally shot self)
1 adult shot themselves while using the bathroom

11 incidents occurred in public placesloaded-nssf
– 3 occurred in an employer’s parking lot (1 person fatally shot self)
– 2 occurred at outdoors
– 1 occurred at a Walgreens
– 1 occurred at an adult bookstore
– 1 occurred in a restaurant parking lot
– 1 occurred at a public campground
– 1 occurred at a place of employment

CITIES WITH MOST INCIDENTS – – UNINTENTIONAL SHOOTINGS INVOLVING ADULTS

11 incidents occurred in Greeneville
6 incidents occurred in Nashville
6 incidents occurred in Murfreesboro
5 incidents occurred in Knoxville
4 incidents occurred in Memphis
2 incidents occurred in Chattanooga

II. CHILDREN UNINTENTIONALLY SHOT BY ADULTS

10 unintentional shootings where an adult unintentionally shot a child

*1 unintentional shooting where a child found a gun in a public place and shot another child

WHO WAS SHOT – CHILDREN UNINTENTIONALLY SHOT BY ADULTS

10 total incidents
– 6 adults shot and injured a child
– 4 adults shot and killed a child

VICTIM’S RELATIONSHIP TO SHOOTER – CHILDREN UNINTENTIONALLY SHOT BY ADULTS

3 adults shot a child that was a family friend
2 adults shot a child that a personal friend
2 adults shot children where the relationship was unknown
1 adult shot their daughter
1 adult shot their son
1 adult shot a child that was an unspecified family member

INCIDENT LOCATION – CHILDREN UNINTENTIONALLY SHOT BY ADULTS

6 incidents occurred in the victim’s home
1 incident occurred at a friend or family member’s home
1 incident occurred outside a home
1 incident occurred in public outdoors
1 incident occurred during a party

CITY WITH MOST INCIDENTS – CHILDREN UNINTENTIONALLY SHOT BY ADULTS

5 incidents occurred in Memphis

*Two teenage boys found a gun on the side of the road and were playing with it in one of the boy’ homes when it discharged, injuring one of the boys.  This is considered an unintentional shooting since the boys did not find the gun in either of their homes.

III. STORAGE-RELATED SHOOTINGS – INJURY AND DEATH RESULTING FROM CHILDREN WITH ACCESS TO UNSECURED, LOADED FIREARMScap-4-nra

There were 20 incidents when a child under 18 gained access to an unsecured gun and unintentionally shot themselves or another person.  Also, an additional incident in 2016 was the result of a child under 18 gaining access to a loaded gun and INTENTIONALLY shooting another sibling with it.  In this case, a 13-year-old boy intentionally shot his 12-year-old brother while their parents were not home.

22 total incidents related to irresponsibly stored guns.
– 14 children shot and injured themselves or another child
– 2 children shot and injured an adult
-6 children shot and killed themselves or another child
       -Youngest fatality was a 2-year-old boy who fatally shot himself at a family friend’s home

AGE OF SHOOTERS – STORAGE-RELATED SHOOTINGScap-3-nssf

8 shooters under age 13
– 5 toddlers (under age 4)
– 1 elementary age (ages 7-9)
– 1 tween (ages 10-12)

9 teenage shooters
– 4 young teens (ages 13-15)
– 5 older teens (ages 16-17)

4 shooters were children whose ages were not disclosed

1 shooter was a teen whose age was not disclosed

VICTIMS’ RELATIONSHIP TO SHOOTER – STORAGE RELATED SHOOTINGS

10 children shot themselves (3 children fatally shot themselves)
7 children shot a friend (1 child fatally shot a friend)
3 children shot a sibling (all resulted in a fatality)
1 child shot his father
1 child shot a relative

INCIDENT LOCATION – STORAGE RELATED SHOOTINGS

9 incidents occurred in the victim’s home
2 incidents occurred while a child was cleaning or loading a gun
3 incidents occurred outside of a home
3 incidents occurred outdoors in a public place
2 occurred in the family car
2 occurred at a friend’s home
1 occurred at a relative’s home

CITIES WITH MOST INCIDENTS – STORAGE RELATED SHOOTINGS

5 incidents occurred in Memphis
3 incidents occurred in Nashville
2 incidents occurred in Knoxville
2 incidents occurred in East Ridge

Children are considered to be anyone under 18 years of age.  Adults are considered to be anyone aged 18-years-old or older.

“Storage-related shootings” do not include incidents where it is reported or reasonable to assume the firearm was illegally obtained (stolen, bought illegally) by the child or teen.

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