Gwinnett child’s accidental shooting latest in series of gun incidents

The death of a 12-year-old Gwinnett County boy Friday evening after he accidentally shot himself while playing with a gun is the most recent of a series of incidents highlighting gun safety issues.

The gun went off as the boy was in the garage playing with the firearm along with a 9-year-old boy, while the mother was inside the home near Norcross. Police don't expect to charge the mother.

The incident comes after one in February, when a 16-year-old girl in Lawrenceville was arrested on suspicion of accidentally shooting and killing a 19-year-old man.

In January, a 17-year-old was killed by a 16-year-old in an accidental shooting at an apartment complex in DeKalb County. Separately, a child accidentally shot a 2-year-old girl in LaGrange.

In December, a 13-year-old boy accidentally shot his mother in the neck in their home near College Park.

In November, police say a 6-year-old found a loaded gun tucked between cushions of a sofa in her family's southeast Atlanta apartment and ended up shooting herself in the head. Separately, a 2-year-old boy was killed in Jackson while playing with this twin brother in what appeared to be an accidental shooting.

Gun safety advocacy group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America says more than 2 million children in the United States live in homes with unsecured guns — meaning guns that are locked, unloaded and stored separately from ammunition. “We must do more to prevent them,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “Gun owners and non-gun owners should agree that guns ought to be stored safely to be kept away from children…. The onus always should be on adults to keep children safe from loaded guns.”

Matt Podowitz, who lives in Dunwoody and founded, said two factors contribute to such incidents: A firearm left available to children, and a “lack of education of children about what to do when they encounter a firearm.”

“If a child’s parent has not taken the time to talk to their children about this potential risk — the same as stranger danger or dishwasher detergent under the sink — we can’t expect this child to behave the way we want them to if they do encounter a firearm,” Podowitz said.

He said no parent can control when a child might encounter a firearm.

“Guns have been found in all places — they’ve been found on rides in an amusement park, they’ve been found on shelves in big box retail stores, they’ve been found on bathroom sinks in airports,” Podowitz said. “It’s an important thing for parents to talk about with their children.”