A fascination with firearms and a false sense of security around guns has fueled more than 1,550 unintentional shootings of young Minnesotans between 1999 and 2008, a Minneapolis Star Tribune analysis of state Health Department data found. Unintentional shootings of young people is a statewide problem, not just an urban phenomenon. Each year, accidental shootings break down in roughly equal numbers between the seven-county metro area and the state’s other 80, mostly rural counties.
In 2008, the latest year for which data are available, more Minnesotans ages 10 to 19 were shot accidentally than were shot on purpose. The Star Tribune found that in 2008, Minnesota children ages 10 to 14 had a greater chance of being accidentally wounded by firearms than being hit by cars. Experts say these accidental shootings, which resulted in emergency room treatment, hospitalizations, and a few deaths, are almost all avoidable. Unlike criminal assaults, victims and perpetrators of accidental shootings usually have the time to make choices that would keep everyone safe.