Accidental shootings involving children on the rise in Georgia, study says

On Monday, a four-year-old shot himself and a two-year-old in Marietta.

On Friday, a three-year-old boy was wounded after he found a loaded gun in southwest Atlanta.

Also on Friday, a four-year-old in Macon shot and killed himself. The list of headlines goes on.

The rate of children finding guns and hurting themselves or others is on the rise throughout Georgia, according to a new study from the gun-safety advocacy group Everytown For Gun Safety. 

"There are things that we can do to prevent these type of incidents from happening," the Marietta mother said. "They are not accidental, they are 100% preventable. 100%."

Julvonnia McDowell had to bury her 14-year-old son Jajaun when his friend accidentally shot him in 2016. Now, she’s on a mission to keep guns from falling into the hands of children.

"Jajuan was this loving and caring and compassionate teenager. From what I was told, there was a gun that was in the dresser drawer buried under a t-shirt," McDowell said. "[His friend] attempted to unload the gun and when Jajuan told him to put it away, he said look it’s not loaded, not realizing there was a bullet still in the chamber."

Guns are the number-one leading cause of death among children and teens in Georgia, according to the report. It found that Georgia has among the top ten highest rates of gun accidents involving children in the nation. 

Atlanta Police Officer Anthony Grant said it’s one of the calls they dread the most. 

"It certainly is tough. Every victim is a priority, but children, of course, are different," Grant said. 

Grant said many times, gun security isn’t something some gun owners think about until it is too late. 

"A lot of gun owners in their home will keep it close to the nightstand, underneath the bed, and these are places where a child can go," Grant said. "The best way to keep a gun out of the hands of a child is to secure it. Lock it."

And that’s part of McDowell’s mission. 

"As gun owners, take that responsibility," she said. "Make sure that that gun is inaccessible to that child at all times, because it’s more than just telling your child, or knowing that your child will not touch it. Just realize that you just never know in that moment what will happen."

Officer Grant said if a gun ends up falling into the wrong hands, the gun owner could face criminal charges.

"It can lead to charges such as reckless conduct or child negligence," Grant said. "Of course each case is different, and must be investigated, but I can certainly lead to consequences."

Gun lockboxes run about $100 online. Cable locks that run through the chamber and come out the magazine well could cost as little a ten dollars.

McDowell said that if it ends up saving a child’s life, and sparing a mother the pain she has endured, it would be worth every penny.

WATCH: FOX 5 Atlanta live news coverage


Sign up for FOX 5 email alerts

Download the FOX 5 Atlanta app for breaking news and weather alerts.