Toddlers have shot at least 23 people this year in US: report

Toddlers have shot at least 23 people this year in US: report

 The US has witnessed at least 23 toddler-involved shootings since January 1, reporting a spurt in such tragic incidents despite the Obama administration's efforts to introduce new gun control measures.

There have been at least 23 toddler-involved shootings in the US since January 1, compared with 18 over the same period last year, the Washington Post reported.

In the vast majority of cases, the children accidentally shoot themselves. That has happened 18 times this year, and in nine of those cases the children died of their wounds.

Last year, a Post analysis found that toddlers were finding guns and shooting people at a rate of about one a week. This year, that pace has accelerated, the report said.

Toddlers have shot other people five times this year. Two of those cases were fatal: this week's incident in Milwaukee, and that of a 3-year-old Alabama boy who fatally shot his 9- year-old brother in February.

These numbers represent only a small fraction of gun violence involving children. For instance, the pro-gun-control group 'Everytown for Gun Safety' has found at least 77 instances this year in which a child younger than 18 has accidentally shot someone.

And there is a whole different universe of gun violence in which toddlers are shot, intentionally or not, by adults.

This past week, a Milwaukee toddler fatally shot his mother after finding a handgun in the back seat of the car they were travelling in.

Georgia is home to the highest number of toddler shootings, with at least eight incidents since January 2015. Texas and Missouri are tied for second place with seven shootings each, while Florida and Michigan are tied for fourth, with six shootings apiece.

One might think that toddler shootings are simply a function of population — the more people who live in an area, the more toddlers are likely to shoot someone. But that does not appear to be wholly the case. California and New York are two high-population states that have seen only three toddler shootings between them since 2015, the report said.
And Illinois, home to infamously high rates of gun violence in Chicago, has not seen a single toddler shooting since 2015.

This suggests that other factors may be at play in the states that see disproportionately high numbers of shootings by toddlers. Missouri and Georgia, for instance, have fairly lax laws regulating how guns are stored to prevent child access. On the other hand, New York has no such child access laws in place, yet only one toddler has shot someone there since 2015, the report said.

Perhaps other factors are at play as well. There could be cultural factors — norms surrounding gun use and ownership, for instance — that may make these shootings more likely in some areas than in others, it added.

In his first weekly address of 2016, Barack Obama vowed to take executive action to increase background checks on gun buyers to tackle the "epidemic of gun violence".

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