FAMILY SAFETY

Advocates share message after 3-year-old kills self with unsecured gun

Nov 17, 2022, 7:13 PM

TAYLORSVILLE, Utah — Gun violence prevention advocates are sharing a message after a toddler shot and killed himself in Taylorsville, highlighting what they say is a concerning trend with children and guns in Utah.

And they’re hoping for legislation to help turn the numbers around.

Police raced to Thornhill Park Apartments just after midnight Thursday, after a 911 call reporting a 3-year-old shot himself.

Officers and paramedics tried to save him, but the young boy died.

According to Taylorsville Police, the child’s mom and dad were home and awake at the time, but the gun wasn’t locked up and didn’t have a lock on it.

Somehow, the boy got ahold of it.

“It’s so sad,” said Terri Gilfillan, board chair of the Gun Violence Prevention Center of Utah.

The organization tracks gun-related accidents and deaths, including in children.

This is yet another number to add to their list.

“What we’re seeing is kind of an uptick in the last few years,” Gilfillan said, explaining that the data from a report they compiled together shows the number of unintentional shootings involving children in Utah is rising.

Gilfillan said in 2020, 18 children were involved in unintentional shootings. That one year alone was nearly half of what it was for an entire 10-year span. She said from 2008-2018, that number was 41 total.

They’re pushing for legislation in hopes of seeing a different kind of data.

“Utah doesn’t currently have any laws that require safe storage right now,” she said.

In addition to laws mandating safe storage, Gilfillan talked about the laws preventing child access to firearms.

“In 2017, a study by the Journal of American Pediatrics found that the states that have passed child access prevention laws, they saw a 23% decrease in unintentional shootings of children between the ages of 0 to 15,” Gilfillan cited.

Until then, she indicated they’ll keep working on awareness, education, and prevention.

Gilfillan said the top things they tell parents when it comes to child gun safety is to store guns away from ammunition, keep firearms locked up in a gun safe, and have a biometric lock on all guns.

“I don’t want to see more tragedies happen,” she said.

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Advocates share message after 3-year-old kills self with unsecured gun