SAFETY

Experts urge gun safety as child gun deaths see higher rates

Nov 17, 2022, 1:25 PM | Updated: 1:55 pm
a person holds a gun, experts urge gun safety after increased gun deaths...
FILE PHOTO: experts still say the number of gun deaths and gun suicide is a big concern. (University of Utah)
(University of Utah)

SALT LAKE CITY — After a 3-year-old reportedly shot himself accidentally in Taylorsville early Thursday morning, experts are urging safe gun practices.

While the number of unintentional shootings in Utah has stayed relatively consistent over the last few years experts still say the number of gun deaths and gun suicide is a big concern. 

Preventing shootings

Nancy Halden with the Gun Violence Prevention Center of Utah said safe, constant gun storage is key to preventing tragedy.

“It hinges on proper gun storage, so, it is the responsibility of responsible gun owners to store their weapons.”

Halden said suicide rates among kids have also increased dramatically over the past decade, and account for a large amount of child gun deaths.

If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, there is help available. You can dial 988 or download the Safe UT app.

Child gun deaths in Utah

In the past six years, unintentional shootings have ranged from 14 to 19 per year in Utah. And the state had had 10 so far in 2022.

But gun deaths and gun suicide amongst kids are still higher than in years past. According to data from the Utah Department of Health and Human Services 2020 saw the highest rate of child gun deaths in two decades.

Halden thinks the number of new gun owners is a potential factor.

“Since 2019, the number of guns bought in Utah has risen dramatically. With the pandemic, with the social unrest in our country, a lot of people were frightened and they went out and bought guns.”

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Experts urge gun safety as child gun deaths see higher rates