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What Can We Learn: 3-Year-Old Boy Shoots Himself After Finding Gun

by Richard Nance   |  March 15th, 2012 75

Gun in car_croppedAccording to ABC News, a 3-year-old boy shot and killed himself with a gun that his mother’s boyfriend left under the seat in their vehicle as the family stopped for gas at the Tacoma, Wash., station off Interstate 5 at about 12:30 a.m.

The man exited the vehicle to pump gas and the child’s mother went inside the station, leaving the boy and the man’s daughter inside the vehicle.

The boy managed to climb out of his child restraint seat and retrieve the firearm, with which he accidentally shot himself.  The girl was uninjured.

According to Tacoma Police Officer Naveed Benjamin, investigators who questioned the boy’s mother and her boyfriend are calling the shooting a tragic accident.

Unfortunately, this is the third recent shooting of a child in Western Washington.

“You can’t predict what children are going to do. You need to unload and lock it up if you’re not carrying it. And keep it out of the hands of children. It’s really not that hard to practice firearm safety,” said Benjamin.

What can we learn from this tragic accidental shooting? The obvious “catch-22” with owning a gun is that the more securely it’s stored, the less accessible it is and vice-versa. In my opinion, responsible gun ownership is about striking a balance between security and accessibility.

To one extreme are gun owners whose unloaded guns are locked away so securely that they would be virtually useless to their owner during a home invasion, which of course is why the owner purchased the guns to begin with.

At the other end of the spectrum are gun owners who leave their loaded guns on kitchen counters with young children in the house. This type of gun owner has usually taught his or her children about the dangers of guns and is confident his children will not handle the gun. The problem here is that even if his or her children don’t find the allure of Daddy’s or Mommy’s gun irresistible, other children who visit the home might not be so disciplined.

Obviously, wearing your gun is the best way to ensure that it’s with you when you need it yet is inaccessible to others. But most people I know don’t wear a gun at all times while inside their home. I’ve found biometric safes, which require authorized fingerprint identification to unlock, to be a good way to keep your gun loaded and ready yet safe from children and irresponsible adults.

Some states have criminal statutes for unsafe storage of a firearm. However, even facing criminal charges would probably seem minor compared to the burden of knowing a child was injured or killed with your gun.

What are your thoughts?

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