Feds underreporting accidental child gun deaths, study finds

New research from a gun control group backed by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg finds the federal government is underestimating the number of children killed in unintentional firearm deaths. 

The report from Everytown for Gun Safety looked at a one-year period beginning in December 2012, and found at least 100 unintentional shooting deaths in that time, or almost two a week. That's 60 percent more than reflected in federal data.

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Data from the Centers for Disease Control shows an average of 62 child gun deaths annually.

The study, which concludes that the vast majority of the deaths could have been prevented by safe storage of guns, is accompanied by new polling showing public support for regulations requiring firearms to be kept unloaded and locked. 

Everytown for Gun Safety is a coalition that includes Mom’s Demand Action for Gun Safety in America and Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

“When a child dies or is injured because a gun is left unsecured in a home, it’s not an accident,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action.

The report finds that local and state coroners and medical examiners tend to err toward classifying deaths as intentional homicides when intent is unclear, thus underreporting unintended shootings. 

“Our analysis confirms that the official data significantly undercount the scale of the phenomenon,” according to the report, entitled “Innocents Lost.”

The report concludes that 70 percent of the killings could have been prevented by safe gun storage.

The advocates also offer new polling data showing 86 percent of likely voters — and 77 percent of voting gun owners — agree that parents with guns in their homes should be required to keep them locked and unloaded.

More than 70 percent of voters believe doctors and teachers should be permitted to educate parents about responsible gun storage and more than 80 percent support criminal charges in cases when a minor gains access to a negligently stored gun and death or serious injury occur.

Moms Demand Action and Mayors Against Illegal Guns formed a new umbrella organization called Everytown for Gun Safety earlier this year. Bloomberg, a staunch advocate of stronger gun control, has committed $50 million to the effort.