(Update/Correction: The state Department of Health says these numbers are very wrong because of a data error; there were just five 2014 gun deaths by the department’s count. See post HERE. Leaving the original post here for the record.)
The state Department By a wide margin, Tennessee led the nation in fatal unintentional shootings in 2014, according to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control.
The CDC counted 105 deaths from accidental gunshots in 2014. The year before that, there were 19 such deaths in the state, when Tennessee had ranked ninth.
“The rise was so dramatic that at first we didn’t believe it,” said Jonathan Metzl, research director with the Safe Tennessee Project and director of the Center for Medicine, Health and Society at Vanderbilt University.
The Safe Tennessee Project was first to report the data, noting that it first asked state and federal officials to check the numbers for accuracy. (Note: News release HERE.)
…The group’s initial analysis found injuries were most common when gun owners failed to clear the chamber before cleaning firearms or when loaded guns were dropped. The increase in deaths was reflected across all age ranges, including children who grabbed loaded weapons.
Metzl said he like to prevent such killings, but says a congressional ban on gun violence research is a hindrance.
“There are studies that we could be doing,” he said. “Would trigger locks help? Would gun safes help? Would smart guns that only fire when the user is handling the gun — would that help?”
He says such insights could reduce accidental shootings without fully entering the fray on gun control.
“It’s well past time to really look at this question,” he said. “I’m just saying that gun death and gun injury happen within predictable patterns.”