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Toddlers Are Shooting Siblings and Others at An Alarming Rate

Photograph by Twenty20

On New Year’s Eve, a 3-year-old in Indianapolis got into his mom’s purse while she slept and accidentally shot his 5-year-old sister. The girl was rushed to Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health in critical condition. As of January 2, prosecutors have yet to determine if the mom will face charges.

“I don’t understand what caused this or what happened, but she was an awesome mom. She was really protective,” Ronae Briscoe, who lives in the same building and witnessed the aftermath, told Wish TV local news.

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Sadly, incidents like this have been all too common. Accidental shootings by minors have been a consistent problem for the last two years. Since 2015, there have been shootings perpetrated by a toddler at least once a week and more than 25 children shot to death by a toddler sibling. The trend has only gotten worse in 2016.

From January to October 2016, there were 51 shootings involving toddlers, compared to 47 by the same date in 2015. That year had a total of 58 shootings committed by toddlers, according to The Washington Post. The publication's October 2016 report shows that 16 of the 39 self-shooting toddler incidents were fatal.

The U.S. General Accounting Office has estimated that 31 percent of accidental deaths caused by firearms might be prevented by the addition of a child-proof safety lock and a loading indicator.

The numbers are dizzying and can be hard to swallow, but the fatalities should be a concern for any parent, especially if they are preventable.

Currently 11 states have laws concerning firearm locking devices, of which just Massachusetts requires all firearms be stored with a lock. Gun rights activists argue lawmakers shouldn’t decide how people choose to protect themselves at home and that locking up guns prevents quick access to them. But gun control activists contend that unsafe storage of firearms is a public health and safety issue, and the presence of unlocked guns in the house increases the risk of gun injuries and deaths. The U.S. General Accounting Office has estimated that 31 percent of accidental deaths caused by firearms might be prevented by the addition of a child-proof safety lock and a loading indicator.

RELATED: How I Talk to My Children About Guns

Parents need to ensure adequate level of protection to prevent young children from accessing firearms by keeping guns out of kids' sight and reach, talking to kids about gun safety repeatedly (an alarming study shows initial lessons don’t stick that easily), and teaching them how to act responsibly around one.

Because even one death at the hands of a toddler is too many.

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