Firearm Related Accidents
People own guns for protection, hunting, sport, and other reasons. Unfortunately, every year, the news showcases tragic stories of gun accidents involving children, including a recent case where a three-year-old shot himself in the chest after picking up a gun that fell out of a family member’s pocket.
The law allows gun ownership, but it also requires that owners use proper safety precautions. Lack of safety measures can leave a gun owner liable for any injuries that result.
If your loved one was the victim of a gun accident, you can hold the responsible parties accountable. To learn more, contact an experienced personal injury attorney.
Responsibilities of Gun Owners
If you own a gun, you have a duty to ensure the safety of those around you. “Good enough” is simply not good enough.
The Texas Department of Public Safety recommends that you:
- Lock and secure all guns when not in use.
- Store ammunition away from any guns.
- Keep firearms away from children. A firearm left accessible to a child is a Class C misdemeanor.
- Store firearms in gun safes—the most secure option to prevent unauthorized access and accidental injuries.
Instead, sadly, many gun owners hide their guns to prevent unauthorized access from their children or visitors. However, statistics show that 75 percent of children who live in homes with guns know where adults store them. Even scarier—studies show that a child who comes across a gun is likely to handle it, even if they know not to. Proper gun storage is an essential part of gun ownership.
Gun Accident Statistics
Responsible gun ownership is key to preventing accidents. The numbers show both the prevalence of guns and how they are stored have a direct link to gun accidents.
A few statistics of note include:
- According to a recent Washington Post article, there are now more guns in the United States than humans.
- Texas leads the way when it comes to gun ownership. In one recent year, the Lone Star state contained 972,860 registered guns.
- One percent of all gun deaths were preventable or accidental.
- Guns killed nine children or teenagers every day.
Gun Accidents Can Cause Permanent Injury or Death
Sadly, when a child gets ahold of a gun, the results can be deadly. Because a young child does not know the dangers of a gun, they may treat it as a toy and aim it at themselves or others. Accidents that don’t result in death can have life-changing consequences. This includes:
Traumatic Brain Injuries
According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, approximately 500,000 children visit the ER every year for symptoms of a traumatic brain injury. Approximately 145,000 children are living with lasting effects from a TBI.
Long term effects of a traumatic brain injury can include:
- Memory problems
- Loss of speech or speech difficulties
- Mood changes
- Loss of fine motor skills
Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries occur from a blow or a penetrating wound to the spinal cord. This may happen when a bullet enters the chest or neck and hits the spine. Often, these injuries result in permanent paralysis, requiring lifelong care. Spinal cord injuries often involve additional conditions that result from paralysis.
These may include:
- Respiratory issues
- Bowel or bladder problems
- Pressure sores
- Mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, and PTSD
Emotional or Behavioral Disorders
It is normal for a child who has experienced a traumatic event to suffer temporary or permanent psychological issues. These issues may require extensive mental health counseling or medication.
Mental health concerns may include:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Anger management issues
A bullet wound to the chest can hit internal organs. Severe damage can affect the function of these organs and may require a transplant or long-term care.
Prevention Is Your Best Defense
The good news is, you can reduce the likelihood of gun accidents.
- Talk to your child about the dangers of guns. A child who does not know the risk of firearms will not know to stay away if they come across an unsecured gun. Just one conversation is not enough. Make sure you have regular, age-appropriate conversations with your children.
- Talk to the parents of your child’s friends: While the guns at your home may be secure, you don’t know the situation at someone else’s house. It’s okay to ask other parents if they have guns in their home and if they properly secure them. If you don’t feel comfortable, don’t let your child play at that house.
- Check on your children often: Whether you are at your home or the house of a friend, children have a way of getting into things. Check on your children periodically and don’t leave young children unsupervised.
Get the Help You Need
The sad truth is, accidents can happen despite our best efforts. But when someone else’s negligence injures or kills your child, you may wish to hold that person accountable. The law allows victims of an accident to pursue damages from a negligent party.
If you have questions or want to learn more about your rights, contact an experienced personal injury attorney.