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'It Affects The Whole Family': Looking Into Accidental Shooting Deaths Of Children

CHICAGO (CBS) -- CBS 2 is digging into the tragic circumstances that led to the shooting death of four-year-old Makalah McKay.

She is the little Chicago girl killed accidentally when another child got a hold of a gun in a home.

CBS 2's Steven Graves went looking for answers into just how often this happens. Data on this specific topic is hard to come by. But two doctors studying the issue said it's happening too often. And adults need to play a vital role in prevention.

No one from Makalah McKay's family wanted to talk on camera. Her mom was too devastated to speak Thursday night at the hospital.

"The stories like this are very private to the family."

Stories that pediatrician Deanna Behrens hears about a lot when an unsecure gun leads to tragedy.

"It affects the whole family and the whole community," Behrens said.

Another child shot and killed Makalah when they found a gun in a bag in the home. Two months ago, a child accidently shot a 12-year-old in the chest in Bronzeville.

 

"It looks like there are at least 14 unintentional shooting deaths in Chicago since January."

Doctor Karen Sheehan with Lurie Children's Hospital said that information is from the National Gun Violence Archive.

But said data from a medical examiner on unintentional child shootings is hard to classify. To dig deeper, she recently surveyed 1,500 Chicago parents on gun safety. About 20% had guns, many said for safety.

Ten percent of those owners did not lock up their guns. And for those who did, nearly half say the firearm was loaded.

"In some research that we've do have, up to 80% of kids know where the guns are stored," Behrens said. "And up to a third have accessed them with the parents not knowing."

Dr. Sheehan added "we want parents, if they have a gun in the home, know how to store it safely."

She urges locking up guns and ammo separately. Both doctors are now working on promoting child access protection laws.

Because they said it is likely more the unintentional shootings happen than what we know. It's a key factor in drafting legislation is making sure gun owners legally own those firearms.

It is unclear if that was the case in Makalah's death.

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