Gun misfire or gun accident cases are common in the U.S., and when they occur, they are often fatal, especially when children are involved. These types of accidental shootings are always preventable. Improper gun storage is the number one cause of accidental gun accidents.
Child Gun Accidents
According to EveryTownResearch.org, which tracks accidental shootings across the country and advocates for gun safety, there were roughly 400 accidental shootings involving children in 2015. 244 people were injured and 128 people died. So far in 2016, there have been almost 100 shootings involving children. Visit https://everytownresearch.org/notanaccident for more info about gun accident injuries in the U.S.
With respect to younger children, the Washington Post reported that in 2015, there were 43 instances when a toddler (aged 3 and under) either shot themselves or another person. As a result, 15 people died and 28 were injured.
Just last month, a 2 year old boy in Indiana died after he found his mother’s loaded gun and accidentally shot himself. Another toddler in Wisconsin shot and killed his mother after finding a gun on the floor in the back seat of the car he was riding in. These cases are all too common, and again 100% preventable. Clearly, adults who own or possess guns must take precautions to store them properly.
Liability for Shooting Deaths & Injuries – 2 Reasons Gun Owners Should Pay Attention
Here are two reasons to secure your firearm: criminal charges and civil lawsuits. Gun owners may face civil and criminal liability when a child obtains possession of a firearm and accidentally harms themselves or another person.
Criminal Liability for an Accidental Shooting
Although criminal laws vary from state to state, common criminal charges include child endangerment or endangering the welfare of a minor. In addition, roughly half of the states in the U.S. have enacted child access prevention (CAP) laws which penalize an individual for allowing a child to get access to a gun. Pennsylvania is not one of those states. New Jersey, on the other hand, passed a CAP law nearly 25 years ago in 1991. See NJ Stat. Ann. Section 2C:58-15 – Minor’s access to a loaded firearm; penalty, conditions.
Civil Liability for an Accidental Shooting
In addition to criminal liability, gun owners may face civil liability. The victim or the victim’s family may file a civil lawsuit against the gun owner. For example, a neighborhood child goes over to his friend’s house for a play date. The child is shot and killed by the friend after the friend finds his father’s loaded gun in an unlocked cabinet. The friend’s father may be held liable for the child’s death. The parents would likely have a valid civil claim against the father for negligence, i.e., failure to secure the loaded gun.
It’s time for all gun owners to take gun safety and storage seriously. Doing so would save literally hundreds of lives each year.
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