Please note: this post has been updated since it was first posted.  The shooting of a 3-year-old Memphis child originally thought to have unintentionally shot himself is now believed to have been shot by his father who has been charged with murder.  The numbers have been updated below, in the Safe Tennessee database, and throughout the website.

On Saturday in Greeneville, a 17-year-old boy was handling a gun when it discharged, killing him. The day before, a 15-year-old boy in Nashville and some friends were playing with a gun when the boy unintentionally shot himself in the foot. And just three days earlier in Memphis, an 11-year-old boy and his 12-year-old sister were playing with a loaded gun when he unintentionally shot and injured her with it. In the month of June, three Tennessee kids shot themselves or another child with a loaded, negligently stored firearm.  The youngest shooter was a Nashville toddler who fatally shot her 7-year-old cousin.

“Every one of these shootings was preventable. Every one,” said Beth Joslin Roth, policy director for The Safe Tennessee Project. “ Gun violence is complicated. Keeping guns out of the hands of children is not. Owning a gun is a tremendous responsibility.  Sadly, too many Tennesseans don’t take the responsibility seriously and kids keep getting shot as a result.”

In 2017, there have already been 16 shootings involving children with access to negligently stored guns.  Five of those shootings resulted in a child’s death.  In all of 2016, there were 22 shootings resulting in six deaths.

Of the shootings so far this year, six occurred in Memphis.  Five occurred in Nashville.

According to an in-depth USA Today/AP investigation, Tennessee is 4th in the nation for unintended shootings of children. Memphis ranks first among the nation’s large cities in accidental shootings. Nashville ranks 10th.

A Johns Hopkins School of Public Health study published in 2016 flagged Tennessee as one of seven states with a high rate of unintentional gun deaths and noted that none of the seven states have laws requiring the safe storage of guns, which have been shown to prevent unintentional shootings, particularly among children.

The Children’s Firearm Safety Alliance (CFSA), a national organization focused on raising awareness about child-involved unintentional shootings. Co-founded by Roth and Missouri State Representative Stacey Newman, CFSA tracks these types of incidents, known as “child access prevention” or CAP shootings and logs them into a searchable database.

According to the CFSA database, Tennessee leads the nation for these types of shootings this summer with six since June 1st. Four of them occurred in a three day period between July 5 and July 8th.

For the year, Tennessee and Florida are tied at 16.  South Carolina and Texas are tied for second with 12 each.

“We know Tennessee has a real problem with kids finding and firing guns in this state,” Roth said. “For two years, we have bought this issue to the legislature and asked them to hold adults responsible when their carelessness leads to a child’s injury or death.  Sadly, the gun lobby believes irresponsible gun owners need to be protected and the NRA wields more influence in our legislature than the long list of Tennessee kids shot and killed with negligently stored firearms.”

The single most important responsibility a gun owner has is making certain their firearms are not accessible to unauthorized users.  When not in use, guns should be stored securely and unloaded with ammunition stored separately.  Children should be taught basic gun safety and what to do if they encounter a gun, but firearm safety training is not a substitute for keeping guns locked and secure. The responsibility to keep guns out of the hands of children rests solely on the adult gun owner.


So far this year – January 1 to present —

Total incidents: 16
Injuries: 11
Fatalities: 5

The youngest shooter was a 1-year-old in Nashville who shot himself in the face.

10 of the shooters were 13-years-old or younger

4 children shot a cousin or relative

2 children shot a sibling

13 shootings occurred in the shooter’s home

1 shooting occurred in a vehicle

1 shooting occurred at a grandparent’s home

This summer in Tennessee- June 1 to present —

Total incidents: 5
Injuries: 3
Fatalities: 2

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.


So far this year – January 1 to present —

Total incidents: 189*
Injuries: 125
Fatalities: 67

*Includes incidents where more than one child were injured or killed in single shooting incident.

The youngest shooter was a Nashville 1-year-old

106 of the shooters were 13 or younger

10 children shot a cousin or relative

1 child, a 2-year-old toddler, shot and injured his mother

28 children shot a sibling. 10 of those siblings died.

120 shootings occurred at the shooter’s home

12 shootings occurred at a friend’s home

14 shootings occurred in a vehicle

This summer in America – June 1 to present —

Total incidents: 48*
Injuries: 29
Fatalities: 21

*Includes incidents where more than one child were injured or killed in single shooting incident.

Nationally, there has been an uptick incidents this year compared to 2016.  Although the number of fatalities remains close, the number of incidents and number of injuries have increased significantly.