Tennessee is on pace for a large increase in accidental shootings this year, according to the Safe Tennessee Project. The group tracks firearm incidents like the one Tuesday in Nashville in which a 3-year-old injured himself.
Nashville police said the boy shot himself in the wrist with a pistol his 24-year-old father carries as a security guard. The two had just gotten home and put down their backpacks, when the boy pulled the .40-caliber gun out of his dad’s bag and fired once.
The father quickly rushed the boy toward the hospital before encountering a Metro officer who called an ambulance to finish the trip.
Within hours, Beth Joslin Roth, of the Safe Tennessee Project, performed a sobering task — she logged these particulars into her accidental shootings database.
“Often times, it is young children that are finding these loaded guns. Preschoolers, toddlers. They’re little kids. Little kids are curious,” she said.
According to the group’s records, seven children have died this year and there have been 62 accidental shootings in total. That’s more than in all of 2015 (51) and part of an upward trend for several years.
Data from 2013 ranked Tennessee ninth in the nation for the prevalence of unintentional shooting injuries.
The Safe Tennessee Project pays such close attention because accidental shootings are preventable, Roth said.
“They’re the least complicated form of gun violence. Accidental shootings are the result of carelessness and irresponsibility,” she said. “Those are things we should be able to address.”
Her group preaches safe storage (view Metro's gun safety page) and pushed unsuccessfully for a tougher penalty against parents who mishandle guns.
“Responsible gun owners understand that guns must be kept safely stored at all times,” she said.
The father in this week’s case has not been charged.