An American Is Shot Every Week — By A Toddler

A study by a writer at the Washington Post's Wonkblog uncovered a startling stat. In the U.S., a person is shot every week — by a toddler.

Christopher Ingraham, previously of the Brookings Institution and Pew Research Center, dug through media coverage to find all reported instances this year in which someone 3 years of age or younger obtained a firearm and proceeded to shoot himself or herself or someone else. Ingraham found 43 separate shootings. The 42nd week of 2015 began on Monday, October 12.
Illustration: Courtesy of Christopher Ingraham/Wonkblog.
Researchers are still determining whether these shootings are specifically violent or just accidental. Ingraham's research really only tells us about the frequency of toddler-perpetrated gun violence in the U.S. He mentions that boys of this age are far more likely to shoot people than girls are — 40 of the 43 shootings were executed by toddler boys — and that Missouri, Florida, and Texas have had the most shootings of this kind.

That doesn't mean we can't look at these numbers critically. As Hillary Clinton insisted at the Democratic presidential debate last night, we have a problem with gun violence that begins with the laws regulating access to firearms.
Illustration: Courtesy of Christopher Ingraham/Wonkblog.
"It is worth noting that the shootings don't necessarily follow broader population trends. California, the most populous state in the nation, hasn't had any. Nobody has been shot by a toddler in New England or the Upper Midwest," Ingraham writes. In other words, in states with stricter firearm laws, toddlers aren't killing people with guns (unless the media hasn't been covering such incidents, which would be unlikely).

As Everytown, an organization that advocates for stricter firearm regulation nationwide, points out, incidences of unintentional child gun deaths are directly correlated to children's ability to gain access to firearms. When states mandate that adults lock and store their guns, kids don't get hold of them.

Malcolm Gladwell's feature story in The New Yorker this week is also worth noting. Gladwell points out the un-randomness of gun violence, as well. By citing the work of sociologists such as Mark Granovetter, who studied riots, and Nathan E. Patton, who observed the behavior of school shooters, Gladwell argues that gun violence in schools is becoming systematized. Precedent is making more and more kids into confident perpetrators.

This is one more instance when it's hard to argue — as lots of conservatives have — that the solution to the problem is more guns.

More from US News


R29 Original Series