Despite gun sales reaching record numbers in the last two years, accidental gun shootings are at an all-time low, a surprising finding by the National Safety Council.

In its annual "Injury Facts" report, the group put accidental gun deaths in 2015 at 489.

That is the lowest since 1903, when record-keeping began and a 17 percent one-year drop.

"That's about three-tenths of 1 percent of the 146,571 total accidental deaths from all other listed causes. The decrease came in a year that saw record firearms sales to many millions of Americans," according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the gun industry's representative.

Gun control advocates sometimes cite accidental shootings by legally own guns in their effort to cut sales or demand special safety measures.

In 2015, some 23 million guns were sold, an all-time high then. Last year sales surged to 27 million.

The number was far lower than other accidental death causes in the report.

NSSF and other groups have been advocating for gun safety and believe their efforts have paid off.

"This latest release from the National Safety Council shows that the vast majority of the 100 million American firearms owners meet the serious responsibilities which come with firearms ownership," said NSSF President and CEO Steve Sanetti. "They store their firearms safely and securely when not in use, and follow the basic rules of firearms safety when handling them."

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at