Memphis leads country in children shooting themselves, leaders urge parents to lock up guns

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis leads the country in children accidental shootings.

Over the weekend, two children under the age of ten died because they got their hands on an unsecured gun.

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Two fathers have been arrested in connection with those deaths. A four-year-old boy died after finding a gun in the sofa, and an eight-year-old boy died after getting a gun from under his dad’s bedsheets.

In 2017 alone, nine kids have been injured or killed by poorly secured guns.

“People have guns in their homes and aren't aware of proper gun safety and storage procedures,” said Kat McRitchie, with Mom's Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

This weekend was an unusual, tragic spike, but Memphis has a problem.

According to the Safe Tennessee Project, so far this year, three kids have died in Memphis and six more have been injured.

“These deaths are not an accident. They are preventable with proper gun safety,” said McRitchie.

McRitchie and others say it is on adults to keep kids safe.

“We know the kids actually do handle guns, even if we think they won't. So we need to educate parents about how to secure their guns in their homes,” she said.

The Memphis Police Department was working to educate the community Monday afternoon when they held a demonstration on how adults should lock up their guns.

“The importance of education is extremely important,” said Officer Marion Hannah. “Talk to [your kids] about [guns]. Show them what’s what and it will keep them away from it. If they can’t access it and you won’t have any problems.”

We all know the phrase, 'Accidents happen.'

Police said kids getting ahold of guns and dying is not an accident, it’s negligence.

There are multiple groups working to educate parents.

One is the Be Smart campaign. It encourages parents to secure all guns, model responsible behavior, talk to other parents about unsecured guns in their homes, and recognize the risks of teen suicide.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) also has a program called Eddie the Eagle, designed for parents to educate their children about what to do when encountering a gun.

It says parents should teach their kids to, “Stop, Don’t Touch, Run Away, and Tell A Grown-up.”

The group 'Everytown for Gun Safety' monitors unintentional deaths by firearms.