In the fourth shooting involving a very young child in the past month, a 4-year-old boy found a loaded gun under a mattress and accidentally shot his pregnant mother in the face at their suburban home near Seattle on Saturday evening.
His mother, who is eight months pregnant, was rushed to the hospital with life-threatening wounds and was in stable condition as of Tuesday morning, according to Sgt. Ryan Abbott, a spokesperson for the King County Sheriff’s Office.
Abbott said the boy found the gun between the mattress and the boxspring, where his father had stashed it, and shot his mom while she was watching TV in bed. “He unintentionally shot his mom in the face,” Abbott said.
Abbott said that the boy’s father had borrowed the gun from a friend to protect their household, but he’s now under investigation for failing to properly secure the firearm and putting others’ lives at risk.
On July 1, Washington’s new “Secure Gun Storage” law goes into effect, which states a gun owner can be held criminally responsible if their gun gets into the wrong hands or if a crime is committed with the gun. At least 11 other states have a law mandating some degree of secure firearm storage.
“Lock up your guns, especially in your house,” Abbott told reporters Sunday. “You can buy a trigger lock, you can buy a safe.”
Tragic accidents involving children and unsecured firearms are not uncommon. According to the most recently available data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 329 children between the ages of 0 and 9 were killed in accidental shootings from 2010 to 2017 (up from 253 in the previous seven-year period from 2003 to 2010). Overall, 4,181 Americans (children and adults) died from accidental shootings between 2010 and 2017.
A survey conducted by the Journal of Urban Health found that approximately 4.6 million children in the United States live in a home where a firearm is kept loaded and unsecured.
Just last week, two men in Miami-Dade, Florida, were arrested and charged with aggravated child abuse, child neglect and culpable negligence after a 2-year-old child was allegedly left unattended, picked up a loaded firearm that was left on the bed, and shot himself in the stomach (he survived).
Last month, in two separate incidents, toddlers found loaded firearms in the backseats of their family cars and discharged the: In Norwalk, California, a 4-year-old boy found a gun and shot his mother through the seat, critically wounding her. And in Greenville, South Carolina, a 3-year-old boy found a loaded gun and shot himself, and was left in critical condition.
Cover: In this photo taken Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2018, revolvers fill a display case and ammunition is stacked behind at a gun shop in Lynnwood, Wash. Voters in Washington state will decide the fate of Initiative 1639, which seeks to curb gun violence by toughening background checks for people buying semi-automatic rifles, increasing the age limit to 21 for buyers of those guns and requiring safe storage of all firearms. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)