NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Two toddlers were accidentally shot in less than one week in Nashville, and a gun safety group says they were “100 percent preventable shootings.”
Tommy Washington, 31, faces one count of aggravated child neglect after he told Metro police he put his 18-month-old son on the bed next to two pistols.
“It was the right decision to charge him,” said Beth Joslyn Roth, policy director of the Safe Tennessee Project, a gun safety group. “I have compassion in that the choice that he made resulted in his child being hurt and he probably feels guilty and responsible but he should feel responsible.”
The Safe Tennessee Project tracks unintentional shootings in Tennessee through news coverage. Last year, 32 children were accidentally shot; nine were killed.
So far this year, there have been 13 unintentional shootings involving children. Four have died.
There are no laws on the books that prosecutors can use if a parent doesn’t secure a firearm and then a child accesses it and hurts themselves or someone else.
Roth fought for such a law called Makayla’s Law in this past legislative session. It died in committee before even getting to the floor.
“We keep passing all these laws that are supposed to be keeping people safe but people keep getting shot. It’s not rocket science,” said Roth.
A Johns Hopkins University study released last year shows Tennessee is one of seven states in the country with a disproportionately high rate of accidental gun deaths.
“We know we have this problem in our state and we are doing nothing as a state to address and children continue to get shot in these very preventable ways,” Roth told News 2.
The Tennessee Firearms Association said gun laws probably won’t deter unintentional shootings.
The Safe Tennessee Project, the National Rifle Association, and the Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital all advocate for safe storage of firearms, saying a gun lock or gun safe is easy to use and safe for gun owners with children.