Gun Accidents: How One Moment Has Permanent Consequences
In a cop drama or spy thriller, it’s exhilarating to watch when one of the “good guys” draws a sleek gun to protect a loved one, stop a crime, or bring down a villain. But in real life, guns are far more than exciting movie props—and they don’t always lead to happy endings.
In the United States, 42% of all households own a gun. Many people keep guns for safety reasons, like to protect themselves against a potential robber. Others have guns for recreational activities, like hunting. Some might also have guns as part of their job, like if they are a police officer or security guard. There are many valid reasons for owning a gun, and the vast majority of American gun owners are responsible.
However, guns are still powerful weapons. This means that even one simple mistake or reckless decision can have deadly consequences.
Accidental Shooting Statistics
While acts of mass violence, like last year’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in South Florida, draw national attention, thousands of gun deaths and injuries are the result of accidental shootings. In 2016, there were 161,374 deaths from accidental shootings, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. This makes accidental shootings, along with other unintentional accidents, the third leading cause of death among Americans.
Kids and Gun Accidents
Something that makes these gun accident statistics even more frightening is that the majority of victims are under the age of 25. In fact, children and young people between the ages of 0 and 19 accounted for 2,824 gun deaths in 2015. An additional 13,723 were injured.
89% of child-related gun accidents occur in the home, usually when a family member does not properly store a firearm. If a young child finds a gun, they might think it is a toy or not understand the dangers, leading to the potential for serious injuries to themselves or others. An example of this recently occurred in Seattle when a three-year-old boy found a gun underneath a mattress in his home, then accidentally shot his pregnant mother in the face.
Firearm Misuse Has Deadly Consequences
Along with accidents that arise from negligent gun storage, another common cause of gun accidents is reckless behavior. Even though adults should know that guns are not toys, many still use guns in knowingly dangerous situations, like:
- Using firearms while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Gun-related games
- Pranks or stunts
- Pointing guns at people
- Firing a gun into the air
A recent tragedy from St. Louis shows how a single bad decision can turn deadly—even when a gun is in supposedly responsible hands. Three police officers were gathered at an apartment and decide to use their guns to play Russian roulette, a dangerous game where players spin a gun loaded with a single bullet, then fire the gun at themselves or another player. During the game, one of the officers shot his colleague in the chest, killing her.
When guns are being used irresponsibly, everyone is at risk. If you are a gun owner, whether it’s for work, protection, or just for recreation, remember to always be safe when storing and using your firearm, and remind others around your house to do the same.
The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.