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Nine-year-old boy kills another child, age six, with a shot to the head in Florida

The United States records nearly one accidental shooting per day by a minor

Clientes compran pistolas en la feria de armas de Des Moines (Iowa)
Customers shop for pistols at the Des Moines, Iowa gun show.JONATHAN ERNST (REUTERS)
Miguel Jiménez

The calm of a residential area in Jacksonville, Florida was broken this past Monday, when a nine-year-old boy shot another six-year-old in the head. The minor was taken to the hospital, but died as a result of the shot, according to local police.

The events occurred in the afternoon, as detailed in a press conference by the deputy chief of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, J.D. Stronko: “This afternoon, at 2:47 p.m., patrol officers were dispatched [when a report was made] about a person with a gunshot wound in the 5500 block of Shady Pine Street South. Upon arrival, officers located a six-year-old boy with a gunshot wound to the head. The victim was transported for medical treatment, but was ultimately pronounced deceased as a result of the injury.”

Stronko explained that the initial investigation determined that the two minors were inside the residence under the care of an adult when the incident occurred. “One of the minors was able to obtain a firearm and fired a single shot that hit the victim,” he noted.

“There are no indications of criminal violence related to this incident. There are also no outstanding suspects related to this incident,” Stronko concluded. He stressed that the investigation was still preliminary. Due to legal restrictions for the protection of minors, Stronko didn’t clarify the relationship between the two children. Other details of the event are pending investigation.

Frequent incidents

Juvenile firearm incidents are relatively common in the United States, where the right to bear arms is enshrined in the Constitution. During the summers, when children spend more time at home, the frequency of incidents in a heavily armed country tends to increase. For instance, this past July, a three-year-old boy shot and killed his one-year-old sister with a handgun in the Fallbrook community, northeast of San Diego, California.

There have been more than 200 unintentional shootings by children in the United States so far this year, including another six in California, according to the group Everytown for Gun Safety. The organization advocates for stricter regulation of firearms, while documenting and following up on these types of incidents.

According to Everytown, nearly every day in the United States, a child gains access to a loaded firearm and unintentionally shoots themselves or another person. The average is around 350 children per year. Victims of children’s shootings are often children themselves. More than nine out of 10 of those injured or killed in unintentional shootings involving children were also under the age of 18.

When children unintentionally shoot another person, the victim is often a sibling or friend. More than 70% of unintentional shootings of children occur in or around homes, most often at times when children are likely to be home: on the weekends and in the summer.

The two age groups most likely to unintentionally shoot themselves or others are high school students between the ages of 14 and 17, followed by preschoolers under the age of five. According to Everytown, nearly one in three unintentional shooters are preschoolers.

Since 2015, the proportion of shootings involving children ages five and under has increased, while that of high school students has decreased.

States with safe storage laws or child access prevention laws have the lowest rates of unintentional shootings of children. Incidents are lowest in states with laws that hold owners responsible when children access a firearm.

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Sobre la firma

Miguel Jiménez
Corresponsal jefe de EL PAÍS en Estados Unidos. Ha desarrollado su carrera en EL PAÍS, donde ha sido redactor jefe de Economía y Negocios, subdirector y director adjunto y en el diario económico Cinco Días, del que fue director.

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