DETROIT (WXYZ) — Parents asleep in their bedroom on the 400 block of Alameda in Detroit were suddenly awakened by the sound of a gunshot. What they discovered was their three-year-old son lying next to a gun bleeding.
Detroit police say the child shot himself in the head when he found a gun on a bed. His teenage brother, who he shares a room with, is now in police custody.
Fortunately, the toddler is expected to survive, but not everyone is that lucky.
“Detroit babies are getting shot at record numbers through us,” says Detroit Police chief James White.
Last year, DPD says 67 children under the age of 17 were shot in the city and 9 died.
The tragedies continue to mount.
“Specifically, when we look at children and adolescence between 1-19, we see an increase in firearm deaths of almost 30%, ” says Dr. Patrick Carter the co-director of the institute of firearm injury prevention at U of M.
Carter says guns are now the leading cause of death for young people, surpassing motor vehicle accidents.
“We need more work to be done globally to address this issue,” says Carter.
Kids dying in cars is on the decline according to Carter, who credits the trend to more laws and regulations surrounding car safety. For example, seat belts and car seat requirements as well as safety features in cars.
There are items on the market to promote safe gun ownership like a gun lock. Point Blank Firearms in Dearborn Heights gives the locks away free to the community and includes them with each purchase of a new gun. Police stations across the City of Detroit also have the locks available for free.
Joseph Pettigrew lost his father to gun violence in 2018. Now he is a mentor and advocate for gun safety. He has been a part of several organizations trying to pass gun safety laws, but he says it's always met with pushback.
“Many folks believe that those laws are designed to stop people's right to bear arms and I think there is a lot of miscommunication.”
Still, Pettigrew says he will continue to advocate for more resources in his community, to help his peers away from guns.