Christopher Ingraham of the Washington Post reported this morning on the results of a search for media reports of instances of toddlers shooting people, and the numbers aren’t good. According to his findings, American toddlers average roughly one shooting per week in 2015.
After spending a few hours sifting through news reports, I’ve found at least 43 instances this year of somebody being shot by a toddler 3 or younger. In 31 of those 43 cases, a toddler found a gun and shot himself or herself.
Ingraham found that in 13 of the 43 total cases a child’s self-inflicted gunshot wound turned out to be fatal, and found two other cases where a toddler fatally shot someone else. So, in 2015, American toddlers average more than 1.5 fatal shootings per month. For frame of reference, in 2007 Japan had 11 gun fatalities all year. In 2014 there were six. By the end of 2015 our toddlers will have killed roughly as many people with guns as all of Japan did over those two years. Oof.
There are a couple of caveats:
These numbers are probably an undercount. There are likely instances of toddlers shooting people that result in minor injuries and no media coverage. And there are probably many more cases where a little kid inadvertently shoots a gun and doesn’t hit anyone, resulting in little more than a scared kid and (hopefully) chastened parents.
Notably, these numbers don’t include cases where toddlers are shot, intentionally or otherwise, by older children or adults. Dozens of preschoolers are killed in acts of homicide each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But I haven’t included those figures here.
The numbers don’t look great, America. Wherever you stand on the gun control debate, surely we can all agree our goddamn toddlers shouldn’t be shooting people.