The NRA says arming more adults will protect kids—but most are killed at home, our investigation shows, often with unsecured guns.
A year after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Mother Jones has analyzed the subsequent deaths of 194 children ages 12 and under who were reported in news accounts to have died in gun accidents, homicides, and suicides. They are spread across 43 states, from inner cities to tiny rural towns.
Following Sandy Hook, the National Rifle Association and its allies argued that arming more adults is the solution to protecting children, be it from deranged mass shooters or from home invaders. But the data we collected stands as a stark rejoinder to that view:
◾127 of the children died from gunshots in their own homes, while dozens more died in the homes of friends, neighbors, and relatives.
◾72 of the young victims either pulled the trigger themselves or were shot dead by another kid.
◾In those 72 cases, only 4 adults have been held criminally liable.
◾At least 52 deaths involved a child handling a gun left unsecured.
Additional findings include:
◾60 children died at the hands of their own parents, 50 of them in homicides.
◾The average age of the victims was 6 years old.
◾More than two-thirds of the victims were boys, as were more than three-quarters of the kids who pulled the trigger.
◾The problem was worst over the past year in the South, which saw at least 92 child gun deaths, followed by the Midwest (44), the West (38), and the East (20).
No other affluent society has this problem to such an extreme. According to a recent study by the Children's Defense Fund, the gun death rate for children and teens in the US is four times greater than in Canada, the country with the next highest rate, and 65 times greater than in Germany and Britain.
The pediatric community has been focused on elevating the issue. Public health researchers have found that 43 percent of homes with guns and kids contain at least one unlocked firearm. One study found that a third of 8- to 12-year-old boys who came across an unlocked handgun picked it up and pulled the trigger.