WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — A grim first across the United States as gun-related deaths overtook car accidents as the leading cause of death of youths in 2020 after the CDC reported a 29.5% surge from the previous year.

But here at home in Wichita Falls, it’s an issue Sgt. Charlie Eipper and the Wichita Falls Police Department said isn’t as prevalent as you’d think.

“We do work those cases every once in a while, but we don’t see it as something that is becoming a chronic problem,” Eipper said. “Sometimes stories have even been made that somebody else shot them and when we get to investigating, we get to find out it was an accidental discharge.”

The CDC stats in Texas back that up, with the state ranking 26th in gun-related deaths per 100,000 in 2020.

As well as lower rates for ages one through 19, at almost 22%, for each bordering states in Oklahoma, at just over 22%, New Mexico at 23% and Arkansas way up at 31%.

Eipper also pointed to safety and training measures taken by many around Texoma and the entire state, that WFPD highly suggest everyone take part in.

“Just like anything else, any other kind of training, it takes repetition and you need to be doing it often because if you don’t, that’s when the accidental discharges are more frequent is after you lose some of those skills and it’s no longer muscle memory. It’s stuff you have to think through and that’s when accidents happen,” Eipper said.

With that continued training as Texas expands open carry laws, Eipper believes Wichita Falls could see those stats actually improve.

“I think those numbers will go down. We’ll have fewer instances of an accidental discharge, they will happen because we’re people and we make mistakes and things are but we definitely can reduce it with training,” Eipper said.

Familiarizing and training to prevent possible catastrophe.

The WFPD actually has hundreds of free gun locks available over at the training center on Flood Street for those looking for an extra way to keep their firearms safe!