The NRA says arming more adults will protect kids—but most are killed at home, a Mother Jones investigation shows, often with unsecured guns.
December 11, 2013

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.

After Sandy Hook, the National Rifle Association and its allies argued that arming more adults is the solution to protecting children, for everything from deranged mass shooters to home invaders. The data collected stands as a stark rejoinder to that view:

See an interactive photo gallery of the 194 victims.

Key findings:

- 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).

For an ongoing tally of reported gun deaths, see this Slate project.

According to the report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that over the last decade an average of about 200 children ages 12 and under have died from guns every year. However, those numbers don't adequately reflect the full scope of the problem due to inconsistencies in how individual states report shootings, and because the gun lobby helped end federal funding for gun violence research. Mother Jones' media-based analysis of child shooting deaths also understates the problem, as many such killings likely never make it into the news.

New research by two Boston surgeons that draws on pediatric records suggests that the real toll is significantly higher: Finding about 500 deaths of children and teens each year, as well as an additional 7,500 hospitalizations from gunshot wounds.

Still crickets from Congress regarding any new gun control efforts.

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