- The shooting death of Shamaya Lynn by her toddler is a part of a trend of unintended shootings.
- According to Everytown for Gun Safety, unintentional shooting deaths rose more than 30% in 2020.
- Firearm sales have skyrocketed during the pandemic; the FBI said it conducted a record number of background checks in 2020.
As COVID-19 cases surged in the US, so did the number of gun purchases. But this statistic is coupled with another more harrowing one: firearm-related deaths by children also increased in the same timeframe, according to data from Everytown for Gun Safety.
According to previous Insider reporting, firearm sales soared in 2020 during the pandemic – the FBI said it conducted a record-high 39.7 million firearm background checks during the year alone.
Accidental shootings by children rose around the same time.
Everytown for Gun Safety’s report from August, titled “Preventable Tragedies,” notes there were at least 2,070 unintentional shootings by children between 2015 and 2020, leading to 765 deaths.
Using the group’s proprietary database, they found the number of unintentional shootings by children rose 31% between March and December of 2020 compared to the same time frame in 2019. The advocacy group estimates that the number of children living in households with a loaded and unlocked gun increased from 4.6 million in 2015 to 5.4 million in 2021 – a 17% increase.
The recent death of Shamaya Lynn is just one instance where these two factors overlapped. Authorities arrested Lynn’s boyfriend, Veondre Avery, on Tuesday for leaving his handgun unattended, leading their toddler to shoot and kill Lynn while she was on a Zoom call for work.
According to an investigation from Florida’s state attorney for the 18th Judicial Circuit, the shooting occurred because the handgun was stored on the ground in a children’s “Paw Patrol”-themed backpack.
“While Avery was out of the home, Lynn had been on the video conference call with coworkers,” the state attorney’s office said in a statement. “Unknown to her, their 2-year-old child had gotten possession of the firearm, and moved to a position behind Lynn, firing a single shot striking her.”
Lynn’s death was even rarer as children are far more likely to die from an accidental shooting. According to Everytown’s data, 91% of deaths and injuries from unintended shootings by children happen to the kids themselves, not adults.
“The two age groups most likely to be both shooters and victims were teenagers 14 to 17 first, and then preschoolers five and younger,” Everytown’s report reads.