New York – Today in a party-line vote, the State Senate Codes Committee voted down the Children’s Weapon Accident Prevention Act (S.2491), sponsored by Senator Liz Krueger, along with Senators Avella, Gianaris, Hamilton, Hoylman, Parker and Squadron. The bill would have protected children from accidental harm and death by making it a crime to fail to store a firearm safely and securely.
“You would think that protecting our kids from loaded weapons would be something we could all get behind, but apparently that is a bridge too far for my Republican colleagues,” said Senator Krueger. “This is nothing more than common sense, rational policy. Too many times we’ve all seen the tragic results when kids get their hands on guns. These tragedies are preventable, but today we failed yet again in our responsibility to New York’s families.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control, from 2005-2010, almost 3,800 people were killed in unintentional shootings, including over 1,300 young people under age 25. In 2013, guns were the second most common cause of death among children and teens. Although data is incomplete, an analysis by Everytown for Gun Safety found that from December 2010 to December 2013, at least 100 children were killed in accidental shootings. 84% of these deaths occurred in the home of a family member or friend of the victim, and most of the guns were legally owned but not secured. The analysis further reveals that 70% of these deaths could have been prevented if gun owners had stored their weapons safely and responsibly.
In today’s committee debate on S.2491, Senators Krueger and Squadron spoke in support of the bill, with Senator Squadron calling it a “wise measure” that sends a message about responsible gun ownership and creates a structure that will protect the rights of gun owners as well as children’s safety. Senator Diane Savino, who also supported the bill, suggested the state should “err on the side of caution,” and recounted a time as a young child when her mother discovered her playing with a gun belonging to her father.
Twenty-eight states and Washington, DC, have various laws holding gun owners responsible for failure to properly secure a firearm. In 2000, legislation was enacted in New York to require the purchase of a safety lock with the purchase or transfer of a gun, but there is currently no requirement to use the device or safely store the gun.
Some recent preventable tragedies include:
–March, 2016, Brooklyn, NY: A fifth-grader brings his grandfather’s loaded .380 semi-automatic pistol to school with him.
–March, 2016, Putnam County, FL: A 4-year-old boy shoots his mother with a handgun she left in the back seat of her car.
–April, 2015, Cleveland, OH: A 3-year-old boy shot and killed a 1-year-old.
–March, 2015, Houston, TX: A 5-year-old boy shot and critically wounded his 6-year-old brother, the day after a 4-year-old shot and killed himself. Just two days prior to that, another 3-year-old died after shooting himself in the head.
–February, 2015, Albuquerque, NM: A 3-year-old boy shot his father and pregnant mother.
–January, 2015, Elmo, MO: A 5-year-old boy shot and killed his 9-month-old brother with a .22-caliber Magnum revolver belonging to a relative.
–December, 2014, Hayden, ID: A 3-year-old boy shot and killed his mother after grabbing a gun in her purse.
–August, 2014, Atlanta, GA: A 3-year-old boy was critically injured after shooting himself in the face.
–August, 2014, Pueblo, NM: A 3-year-old girl was critically injured after being shot by a 5-year-old with a gun that belonged to her mother’s boyfriend.
–May, 2014, Milwaukee, WI: A 3-year-old boy was critically injured after shooting himself in the head with a gun he found in the glove compartment of his mother’s car.
–May, 2014, Summerville, SC: A 4-year-old boy was critically injured after shooting himself with a gun he found at his grandparents’ house.
–April, 2014, Philadelphia, PA: A 2-year-old boy shot and killed his 11-year-old sister with a .357 caliber handgun with an 8-inch barrel. Their mother was only feet away in another room.
–March, 2014, Nuevo, CA: A 5-year-old boy shot and killed himself with a gun found in his home.
–January, 2014, Detroit, MI: A 4-year-old girl fatally shot her 4-year-old cousin in the chest with a gun she found in her grandparents’ home.
–April, 2013, Toms River, NJ: A 4-year-old shot and killed his 6-year-old friend with a .22 caliber rifle he found in his parents’ bedroom.