A joint investigation by the Associated Press and the USA Today Network has found that in the first six months of this year, gun accidents killed at least one child in the U.S. every other day. Both the shooters and victims were most likely to be three years old.Ryan Foley, one of the reporters on the story for the AP in Iowa, joins Hari Sreenivasan to discuss.

HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR: A joint investigation by the “Associated Press” and “USA Today Network” has found in the first six months of this year, gun accidents killed at least one child in the United States every other day. The report published yesterday analyzed more than 1,000 deaths and injuries from accidental shootings involving children ages 17 and younger between January 2014 and this June.

Joining me now to talk about this is one of the reporters of that story, Ryan Foley, a member of “A.P.’s” national reporting team focused on state government coverage. He is in Iowa today.

First of all, what’s the purpose of the investigation? What prompted it in the first place?

A joint investigation by the “Associated Press” and “USA Today Network” has found in the first six months of this year, gun accidents killed at least one child in the United States every other day. The report published yesterday analyzed more than 1,000 deaths and injuries from accidental shootings involving children ages 17 and younger between January 2014 and this June.

Joining me now to talk about this is one of the reporters of that story, Ryan Foley, a member of “A.P.’s” national reporting team focused on state government coverage. He is in Iowa today.

First of all, what’s the purpose of the investigation? What prompted it in the first place?

RYAN FOLEY, ASSOCIATED PRESS: So, we wanted to take a more comprehensive look at these shootings, why they were happening, who the victims were, what types of guns were being used. And we also knew that there wasn’t a lot of government research into these questions.

HARI SREENIVASAN: How do we keep track of them today and what did your investigation look at?

RYAN FOLEY: We started with data from the Gun Violence Archive, which is a national group that tries to track every single gun incident in the United States. So, we took their data going back to 2014 and looked at more than 1,000 cases involving minors who were involved in these unintentional shootings.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Aren’t there statistics from law enforcement or through the government?

RYAN FOLEY: The only government data that’s available comes from the CDC, and we found that, that data is very incomplete. For 2014, they only listed 74 unintentional firearms deaths involving minors. We actually found over 110.

And the CDC admits that it is undercounting these because many local coroners classify these shootings as homicides other than unintentional or accidental.

HARI SREENIVASAN: It looks like different populations under 17 have higher rates. Why do, you know, kids three and under have such a high rate? What’s the similarity with teenagers?

RYAN FOLEY: There’s a large spike in the number of these shootings involving three and four-year-olds. In many cases, they’re able to access their parents’ unsecured loaded guns. And they also pointed them back at their own faces, we found, and shot themselves by accident.

Then, the data shows there’s another large spike for children ages 15 through 17, and those usually involve groups of teenagers who manage to obtain a gun and it accidentally goes off and kills a sibling or a friend.

HARI SREENIVASAN: What efforts have been made on either a national or state level to try to prevent these gun deaths?

RYAN FOLEY: On the national level right now, there’s really not a lot going on. Congress severely limited the funding that’s available back in the 1990s to the CDC. Many former CDC officials will tell you that that’s been a major setback.

HARI SREENIVASAN: What about safer gun storage?

RYAN FOLEY: There’s certainly a push, local and state level, to encourage safe gun storage, and that’s a key finding here. But gun safety advocates will argue that a lot more does need to be done, first of all, to even study how big of a problem it is.

The government used to do an annual survey where they asked Americans how they stored their guns. The CDC stopped asking that question in 2004 on a nationwide level. And just this year, the state officials who run that survey decided not to reintroduce those questions.

HARI SREENIVASAN: All right. Ryan Foley of the “Associated Press” joining us from Iowa today — thanks so much.

RYAN FOLEY: Thanks for having me.
So, we wanted to take a more comprehensive look at these shootings, why they were happening, who the victims were, what types of guns were being used. And we also knew that there wasn’t a lot of government research into these questions.

HARI SREENIVASAN: How do we keep track of them today and what did your investigation look at?

RYAN FOLEY: We started with data from the Gun Violence Archive, which is a national group that tries to track every single gun incident in the United States. So, we took their data going back to 2014 and looked at more than 1,000 cases involving minors who were involved in these unintentional shootings.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Aren’t there statistics from law enforcement or through the government?

RYAN FOLEY: The only government data that’s available comes from the CDC, and we found that, that data is very incomplete. For 2014, they only listed 74 unintentional firearms deaths involving minors. We actually found over 110.

And the CDC admits that it is undercounting these because many local coroners classify these shootings as homicides other than unintentional or accidental.

HARI SREENIVASAN: It looks like different populations under 17 have higher rates. Why do, you know, kids three and under have such a high rate? What’s the similarity with teenagers?

RYAN FOLEY: There’s a large spike in the number of these shootings involving three and four-year-olds. In many cases, they’re able to access their parents’ unsecured loaded guns. And they also pointed them back at their own faces, we found, and shot themselves by accident.

Then, the data shows there’s another large spike for children ages 15 through 17, and those usually involve groups of teenagers who manage to obtain a gun and it accidentally goes off and kills a sibling or a friend.

HARI SREENIVASAN: What efforts have been made on either a national or state level to try to prevent these gun deaths?

RYAN FOLEY: On the national level right now, there’s really not a lot going on. Congress severely limited the funding that’s available back in the 1990s to the CDC. Many former CDC officials will tell you that that’s been a major setback.

HARI SREENIVASAN: What about safer gun storage?

RYAN FOLEY: There’s certainly a push, local and state level, to encourage safe gun storage, and that’s a key finding here. But gun safety advocates will argue that a lot more does need to be done, first of all, to even study how big of a problem it is.

The government used to do an annual survey where they asked Americans how they stored their guns. The CDC stopped asking that question in 2004 on a nationwide level. And just this year, the state officials who run that survey decided not to reintroduce those questions.

HARI SREENIVASAN: All right. Ryan Foley of the “Associated Press” joining us from Iowa today — thanks so much.

RYAN FOLEY: Thanks for having me.

A “yes” vote supports prohibiting the possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines and requiring certain individuals to pass a background check in order to purchase ammunition.
A “no” vote opposes this proposal to prohibit the possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines and require certain individuals to pass a background check in order to purchase ammunition.

Regulation of ammunition in California
In July 2016, California enacted legislation to regulate the sale of ammunition. The legislation requires individuals and businesses to obtain a one-year license from the California Department of Justice to sell ammunition. The legislation also requires sellers to conduct background checks of purchasers with the Department of Justice.[1]

Changes to state law
Proposition 63 would require individuals who wish to purchase ammunition to first obtain a permit. Dealers would be required to check this permit before selling ammunition. The measure would eliminate several exemptions to the large-capacity magazines ban and increase the penalty for possessing them. Proposition 63 would also enact a court process that attempts to ensure prohibited individuals do not continue to have firearms.[1]

Proposition 47 of 2014 made stealing an item that is valued at less than $950 a misdemeanor. Therefore, stealing a gun valued at less than $950 is a misdemeanor. Proposition 63 would make stealing a gun, including one valued at less than $950, a felony punishable by up to three years in prison.

State of the ballot measure campaigns
Yes on Prop 63 has outraised opponents six-to-one. As of October 21, 2016, supporters had received almost $4.8 million, while opposing committees had raised $741,826. The California Democratic Party, a supporter of Proposition 63, has contributed over $1 million to the campaign. The National Rifle Association is against the initiative and has contributed $95,000 to opponents. Polls indicate that around 68 percent of residents support Proposition 63.

Initiative design

Requirements to buy ammo
Proposition 63 would require individuals who wish to purchase ammunition to first obtain a four-year permit from the California Department of Justice. Dealers would be required to check this permit before selling ammunition. The Department of Justice would be authorized to charge up to $50 for permits to support administrative and enforcement costs.[1]

California enacted legislation in July 2016 that, in addition to Proposition 63’s requirements, would mandate dealers to check with the Department of Justice to determine if the buyer is authorized to purchase.

Licenses to sell ammo
In July 2016, California enacted legislation to regulate the sale of ammunition. The legislation requires individuals and businesses to obtain a one-year license from the California Department of Justice to sell ammunition. Hunters selling 50 rounds or less of ammunition per month for hunting trips are not required to obtain a license

Proposition 63 would establish a misdemeanor penalty for failing to follow these dealer licensing requirements.

Large-capacity magazines
California banned large-capacity magazines for most individuals in 2000. Individuals who had large-capacity magazines before 2000 were allowed to keep the magazines. Proposition 63 would remove the ownership exemption for pre-2000 owners of large-capacity magazines. Individuals who do not comply with the measure would be charged with an infraction.

Court removal of firearms
Proposition 63 would enact a court process that attempts to ensure prohibited individuals do not continue to have firearms. Courts would be required to inform individuals prohibited from owning a firearm that they must turn their firearms over to local law enforcement, sell their firearms to a licensed dealer, or give their firearms to a dealer for storage. Probation officers would check and report on what prohibited individuals did with their firearms.

Out-of-state purchases
Starting in July 2019, the July 2016 legislation prohibits most California residents from purchasing ammunition outside the state and bringing it into the state without first having it delivered to a licensed dealer. Proposition 63 would move up the start date of this law to January 2018. It would also make bringing out-of-state ammunition into the state without first delivering it to a dealer an infraction.

Reporting theft
Dealers of ammunition would need to report a theft or loss within 48 hours. Individuals would need to report a theft or loss within five days to local law enforcement. Failure to report would be considered an infraction.

Penalty for theft
Proposition 47 of 2014 made stealing an item that is valued at less than $950 a misdemeanor. Therefore, stealing a gun valued at less than $950 is a misdemeanor.

Proposition 63 would make stealing a gun, including one valued at less than $950, a felony punishable by up to three years in prison.