LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — Local gun safety advocates are encouraging every gun owner to practice extreme caution when children are around firearms.
Following the fatal shooting of a three-year-old in Halifax County on Tuesday, July 6, officials in Suffolk County say that an eight-year-old accidentally shot and seriously injured a 12-year-old the same day.
Gun safety advocates say these mishaps are happening too often.
According to Kate Smith, founder of Moms Demand Action in Lynchburg, “We can prevent this. It’s one hundred percent preventable. That’s why we don’t say that it’s an accident. We use the word ‘unintentional.'”
According to besmartforkids.org, gun sales increased 64% in 2020 and since the pandemic began, risks of gun violence have grown.
“This is the basic first thing you need to do: Have some type of lock to prevent the gun from being loaded and being able to shoot,” said NRA certified instructor and safety officer, Ken Price.
Price says if children are, or will be present, firearms should be kept locked up and unloaded and ammunition should be locked away separately.
“No matter how well you think your child will listen to you, no matter how much instruction you give them to not touch a firearm, they will touch it because curiosity covers everything that you are trying to teach them and just throws it out the window,” Price said.
He says if a child comes in contact with a loaded gun, take action immediately by securing the firearm to scare the child.
“The onus shouldn’t be put on children to know what to do,” said Smith. “This is the parents, the adults in the home, this is their responsibility.”
Price adds that anyone handling a firearm should know these four basic rules: Treat it as if it’s loaded, keep your fingers off of the trigger, keep it pointed in the safest direction, and be aware of your surroundings.
According to everytownresearch.org, there were 369 accidental shootings by children last year alone. Of those, 142 were fatal. So far this year, there have been at least 167 accidental shootings by children.
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