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Toddlers and guns form volatile mixture more often than you think
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A New York Times analysis found that a toddler gets hold of a gun and shoots someone most often himself or herself on an average of once a week. - photo by Lois M. Collins
The shooting of a gun-rights activist by her 4-year-old son has fanned debate about gun rights in America.

Jamie Gilt, 31, who writes the Jamie Gilt for Gun Sense blog, was driving a truck in Putnam County, Florida, this week when she was shot in the back, apparently by her son, who was the vehicle's only other occupant. According to CNN's account of the story, law enforcement is still investigating how the accidental shooting occurred.

"Authorities said the firearm was legally owned by Gilt, who maintained a Facebook page entitled 'Jamie Gilt for Gun Sense,' where she regularly posted pro-gun positions," wrote CNN's Dana Ford. "On her personal Facebook page, Gilt once bragged about her son: 'Even my 4-year-old gets jacked up to target shoot with the .22.'"

Ford noted that both Gilt's personal and pro-gun Facebook pages had been taken down Wednesday.

In October, The Washington Post Wonk blog writer Christopher Ingraham noted that toddlers are finding and shooting guns more often than one might believe on average about once a week in America.

"But cases like this happen a lot more frequently than you might think. 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 wrote.

In the first nine months of 2015, he said 13 toddlers had accidentally killed themselves with a gun, 18 had injured themselves, 10 had injured other people and two had killed someone.

In his count, Ingraham included children up to the age of 3 as toddlers. He noted that the shootings had occurred in 24 states, led by five in Missouri, four in Florida and three in Texas. The numbers are believed to be an undercount of how often toddlers actually fire a gun, either not resulting in injury or resulting in only slight injury likely not reported, the article said.

A Huffington Post article on toddlers and guns in late November ran under the provocative headline "Toddlers involved in more shootings than terrorists in 2015." It broadened its definition of "toddler" to include preschoolers, to age 6.

The National Rifle Association said more than 10 million firearms were manufactured in the United States in 2013. First-time gun buyers were surveyed about why they wanted a gun. The biggest reason listed was home defense, at 87.3 percent. Self-defense came in second, at 76.5 percent, while 73.2 percent said they wanted a gun for recreation. The numbers don't equal 100 because most people picked two or three reasons to get a firearm.

What's the first thing a gun owner should do after buying his or her first firearm? According to the NRA, it's important to get training in its use. Training includes laws and regulations about ownership, securing the weapon, ammunition storage and more, which may vary from state to state.
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