Accidental shootings in Missouri: A fatal danger for kids

Curiosity, the desire to show off and various other things may lead children in Missouri and elsewhere to touch firearms. Whether sneaking them from a drawer or snatching them from under the bed, accidental shootings occur all too often when kids pick up guns. This may result in serious injuries or death for the children who are handling these dangerous weapons, as well as for others.

The scope of the problem

The USA TODAY, in conjunction with the Associated Press, conducted an analysis recently to gauge the prevalence of fatal gun accidents involving children. To this end, they collected information from public sources, the Gun Violence Archive and news sources. The investigation showed that between January 1, 2014 and June 30, 2016, almost 700 children were injured and 320 were killed in gun accidents. Through the first half of 2016, kids died in such accidents at an average rate of one every other day. A number of adults were also injured or killed as a result of accidental shootings involving kids.

Common causes of accidental shootings

Young children, especially toddlers, may not know what guns are or that they are dangerous, or worse, may mistake them for toys. Other children may be intrigued by these weapons and want to check them out, despite knowing the hazards. Kids who are old enough to understand the dangers and that they should not touch firearms may still brandish guns to put on airs or brag to their friends.

Aside from more people owning firearms and keeping them in their homes, numerous other factors commonly contribute to gun accidents. For example, many people store their weapons loaded and unlocked so they can access them quickly in an emergency. While this may aid them in their home protection, it also allows children to more easily get their hands on firearms. This is particularly dangerous when people do not engage their weapons’ safeties or when guns do not have safeties.

Possible prevention

To reduce the number of children-involved gun accidents, some are pushing for legislation requiring firearms to be kept unloaded and stored in a safe or otherwise locked up. Others, however, are looking to advancements, such as smart gun technology, to improve firearm safety and decrease the number of wrongful deaths resulting from accidental shootings.

Combined behavioral and physical biometrics are created by how people grip guns and where they place their hands on them. Smart gun technology would use these grip characteristics, which are unique to individual people, to lock firearms. A sensor would measure the biometrics and only allow the gun to be fired by its owner. Consequently, children would not be able to shoot firearms equipped with this technology, effectively limiting their risk of accidently shooting themselves or others. Detractors, however, argue that the technology could malfunction and there are issues with its general functionality.

Seeking legal guidance

When children in Missouri get their hands on guns, the consequences may be life-changing. Due to accidental shootings, children or others may suffer serious injuries that require extensive medical treatment and care. Under some circumstances, the weapons’ owners may be held liable for the damages resulting from such gun accidents. Thus, it may benefit those who have been injured due to such situations to consult with a lawyer. An attorney may explain their rights and options for pursuing a financial recovery.