Accidental shootings surge in Tennessee - WSMV News 4

Accidental shootings surge in Tennessee

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Tuesday night's incident where a 3-year-old boy shot himself in the hand is the just the latest example of what experts are calling a "significant and concerning" problem: accidental shootings.

At this time last year, there were 32 accidental shootings of children and adults in Tennessee.

As of August 2016, there have been 62.

According to the Safe Tennessee Project, the common denominator is carelessness.

"Carelessness on the part of the adult who forgets to check the chamber to make sure there isn't a bullet in it before he or she cleans a gun. Carelessness when an adult doesn't carry a gun holstered properly and it falls out of their pocket and discharges and shoots them or a bystander. And certainly carelessness on the part of the adult who chooses to leave a loaded firearm where a child can find it," said Beth Joslin Ross, policy director of the Safe Tennessee Project.

The group tracks shootings across the state and cross references the information with the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive.

Of the 62 reported accidental shootings so far this year – a number which has already surpassed the 51 reported in all of 2015 – 16 were of a child who found a loaded gun.

"We don't have a problem with somebody who is a law abiding, responsible gun owner who's had a background check, who keeps a gun in their home," Ross said. "That's their right. But what we do have a problem with is when people are irresponsible and they abuse that right and that carelessness leads to injury or death of a child."

Ross said Tennessee has been flagged in national studies for a disproportionately high number of shootings and for the lack of safe storage laws to protect children.

She emphasizes awareness and education of gun owners to properly secure their guns if they're in a home with children, as key solutions.

Ross also said the Safe Tennessee Project will be bringing back Makayla's Bill this legislative session. The group reports since the bill was killed in committee in March of 2016, there have been 10 shootings involving children and unsecured firearms, including two fatalities.

According to the Gun Violence Archive, 436 children in the U.S. have been killed or injured by guns so far this year.

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