After Latest Deadly Accidental Child Shooting In Kansas City, Gun Safety Advocates Speak Out

Aug 8, 2017

Early Sunday morning, Kansas City Police responded to a call after a two-year old child reportedly shot himself by accident in south Kansas City. The boy was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

According to data from the #NotAnAccident Index, it was the seventh such accidental shooting death of a child in the Kansas City area in the past two years. 

In response, local child advocacy and gun safety groups are speaking out about preventative measures.  

Dr. Gabe Schifman is a board member at Charlie's House and pediatric medical director at Overland Park Regional Medical Center. He said although his hospital does not have a pediatric trauma center, gunshot wounds in children were a common occurrence during his training. 

He said that in 33 percent of homes with children, there is also a gun. He added that 25 percent of gun owners keep the guns loaded.

"It doesn't take a lot of pressure to pull that trigger," Schifman said. 

Judy Sherry, president of Grandparents Against Gun Violence, said that, while these accidents are heartbreaking, the answer to this problem is not less guns but rather safer practices with guns.  

"We are not against guns and don't plan to take them away from anybody," she said. "What we feel is missing is the commitment to gun safety."

Schifman argued that education is the first step in gun safety.

"Teach them that guns are dangerous and that they should fear them so that if they ever were to encounter a gun they should leave the room and tell an adult," Schifman said. "Curiosity can get the better of them." 

He went on to say that guns should be kept locked away where children and teens cannot access it. 

"Have many checks and balances in place in order to get access to that gun and also get access to the ammunition to load it," he said.  

Both Charlie's House, a Kansas City non-profit focused on helping parents keep their home safe for children, and Grandparents Against Gun Violence, which was formed in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting, have developed programs to increase gun safety. 

Charlie's House provides information to parents on its website and will send parents gun locks and other safety devices by request. 

Grandparents Against Gun Violence has just launched a new program called Lock it for Love. The organization is giving out free gun locks at community events. Sherry said 66 locks were given out at the first event and that the response has been positive.

"Most people have been very grateful to have them," she said. 

Schifman said safety measures should go farther than just community measures and that he would support new laws requiring the safe storage of guns in homes with children.

"My only priority is for the safety of children," he said. "There's tons of technology out there that can prevent these accidents from occurring so I'm all for legislation."

Katie Bernard is KCUR's morning news intern. 

KCUR's Laura Spencer contributed to this report.