Rate of accidental shootings alarming

South Bend Tribune

A recent study that shows Indiana has one of the nation’s highest rates of accidental child shootings is nothing less than alarming.

In an analysis by the Associated Press and the USA Today Network, Indiana has the seventh highest per capita rate of accidental shootings involving children ages 17 and younger from Jan. 1, 2014, to June 30 this year. Across the nation more than 1,000 children unintentionally shot themselves, other children or were accidentally shot by adults.

In Indiana, 30 of the shootings — more than half — occurred at the children’s home or another residence, while others took place in a car or public area.

Those are horrifying numbers.

Last year leaders from the nation’s top health professional organizations issued a call to action on gun violence, arguing that gun-related deaths and injuries should no longer be seen only as a matter of criminal violence, but also as a public health crisis.

Dr. Richard Feldman, a former Indiana state commissioner of health and Tribune columnist, addressed the issue of safe gun use in a column last year.

“Gun safety is a longstanding public health concern and counseling in this regard is an established part of preventive care,” Feldman wrote. “Discussions concerning safe gun use, transport, storage and access by children can only serve to reduce improper gun availability to potentially homicidal or suicidal individuals and reduce gun accidents in the home, especially among children.”

This is an issue that should concern all Hoosier gun owners. Treating gun violence as a public health issue is a step forward in trying to reduce the number of accidental shootings. So, too, is making sure gun owners are properly trained in the safe handling and storage of weapons.

This was distributed by Hoosier State Press Association. Send comments to awoods@tribtown.com.