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Researchers: Increase in sales and unsecured guns leading to more unintentional gun deaths

“In fact, in the United States right now, it's estimated that there are 5.4 million children that live in homes with at least one unloaded unsecured gun."

BRADLEY COUNTY, Tenn. — High gun sales and more time at home led to more unintentional shootings in kids, according to research by the organization Every Town for Gun Safety.

Numbers show from March through December 2019, there were 98 deaths -- and at the same time of 2020 there were 128 deaths.

It's happening here in East Tennessee, and on Monday, the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office reported the death of a 2-year-old from an unintentional gunshot wound. 

The father, Matthew Jenkins, is charged in the child's death for criminally negligent homicide. During an investigation by the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office, deputies said they found a gun in the home that was not secured. 

Every Town for Gun Safety is the world's largest gun violence prevention organization. They said their research shows gun deaths by children increased 31% during the pandemic. 

“In fact, in the United States right now, it's estimated that there are 5.4 million children that live in homes with at least one unloaded unsecured gun,” said Jodi Scheer with Moms Demand Action, an organization against gun violence. 

Researchers said its because children easily find those firearms

“It's never good to leave a firearm at a low level accessible where a child could easily get a hold of it,” said Steve Smith. 

Gun sales also increased during the pandemic. Smith is the general manager of SET Guns and Range in Oak Ridge and noticed a big difference in their gun sales, but not their safes. 

“So the increase in gun sales seems to definitely correlate with the increase in gun violence,” said Scheer. 

Smith says one way to prevent unintentional gunshots is proper storage.

“A gun lock or gun case of some sort with a combination lock or key lock or in a gun safe,” said Smith.