- Associated Press - Saturday, October 15, 2016

HONOLULU (AP) - A 12-year-old on Maui accidentally shot his own leg with a .22 caliber rifle in January 2014.

This incident accounts for the only unintentional shooting involving a minor in Hawaii during a two-and-a-half year period tracked by The Associated Press and the USA Today Network.

The boy was treated at a local hospital and released shortly after.

Hawaii had a rate of less than one shooting per 1 million people for these two-and-a-half years - well below the national average of 3.39 incidents per million, and one of the lowest accidental shooting rates for children in the country.

Alaska led the nation with a rate of 19 incidents per million people.

Rhode Island, New Hampshire and the District of Columbia had no accidental shootings involving minors, according to the data. Massachusetts and Connecticut had several cases, but came in at a lower rate than Hawaii. All other states had a higher rate.

Harvey Gerwig, president of Hawaii Rifle Association, said his organization was pleased by Hawaii’s position.

“We as an association are delighted to be on the bottom of the pile in this one,” Gerwig said. He said the rifle association was “all about” training people for the safe use of firearms, adding it puts significant funds and time into high school shooting programs.

He said, however, the state should provide more public shooting ranges where recreational shooters may practice firing their weapons safely.

State Sen. Will Espero said Hawaii’s gun laws helped reduce firearm accidents. He pointed to rules requiring background checks and a waiting period between when a permit to purchase a gun is acquired and when a gun is registered as examples. Guns brought to Hawaii from other states must also be registered with local law enforcement, he added.

“We do have very strict gun laws in Hawaii. So we probably don’t have a lot of unregistered guns or illegal guns in the hands of families or in households, for starters,” Espero said.

There’s also what Espero called “an education component.” Hawaii’s laws require gun owners to be informed on the storage and proper handling of guns, he said.

Espero said he suspects Hawaii will continue to have relatively few accidents involving minors and guns for these reasons.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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