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Child Attorneys Concerned by Spate of Negligent Gun Deaths

Children see guns on television most every day of the week, and many have difficulty understanding the dangers of a weapon they find in their own or a friend’s home. Portland child gun death attorneys, however, point to recent cases in neighboring Washington state and wonder if it’s the adults that need to be educated as much as the children.

There have been three tragic gun accidents in the space of just three weeks, and in all cases the shootings were accidents that could easily have been prevented had the guns’ owners taken even modest precautions to keep the guns out the children’s reach. Two of the three most recent cases resulted in innocent children being killed.

  • A 3-year-old in Tacoma shot and killed himself with his father’s gun. This accident happened within a short space of time after the other two Washington accidents.
  • A young girl, Jenna Carlile, was killed when one of her younger siblings shot her with a loaded gun found in the family car. The 7-year-old was the daughter of off-duty  Marysville Police Officer Derek Carlile, and the gun was found and fired by the sibling when the parents were out of the car.
  • An 8-year-old school girl was seriously wounded when a gun brought to school by one of her classmates in his backpack discharged.  Amina Kocer-Bowman, of Bremerton, has only very recently been released from Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center, but she will doubtless be suffering the effects of the incident for months, if not years to come. The boy who brought the gun to school was nine years old. He told authorities he had taken the .45-caliber gun from the unlocked glove compartment of a car when he was visiting his mother and her boyfriend. The boy lives with his uncle.

In the case of the Tacoma boy, the tragedy could have been even worse. Julio Segura-McIntosh was in a car seat when his parents stopped for gas. His father put the loaded pistol under a seat while he got out to fill the tank, and the mother went into the convenience store attached to the station to buy a couple of items. Julio got out of his seat, found the loaded gun his father had hidden and shot himself in the head. How could things have been any worse? His infant sister was also in the car when the gun went off, but she escaped injury.

Julio’s father may or may not escape prosecution. He has a concealed weapons permit, and Washington has no concrete laws concerning children’s access to firearms. They do, however, have strict rules about loaded weapons being carried in vehicles, which state that people with permits must keep the weapons on their person, and if they do have to leave them in the car, the gun must be concealed and locked safely away.

It’s not brain surgery

Children simply can’t be expected to recognize the difference between a play gun and the real thing, but a Portland child gun death attorney says the answer is really quite simple. Keeping a gun out of reach, unloaded and locked away shouldn’t take a lot of effort, and it should take even less thought. It’s simply something gun owners should do.

Instead, the two recent deaths in Washington are symptomatic of a general increase in the number of accidental shootings of children. Between 2007 and 2010:

  • An average of one child per year was killed in an accidental shooting
  • An average of nine kids aged 17 and younger were hospitalized during that period with injuries caused by accidental shootings.
  • Nationally, about 90 percent of unintentional firearm-related child deaths occurred in the home, and 40 percent of those shootings happen at the home of a friend or relative.
  • People who keep guns in their home or car are far more likely to kill or maim a family member, friend or loved one than they are to even use it against an intruder.

The gun lobby would object to stronger laws

In spite of the recent and tragic loss of young lives, gun lobbyists like the Second Amendment Foundation do not wish to see stricter laws on gun control introduced. Dave Workman, senior editor of thegunmag.com said in a statement after the three accidents, “Responsible people will maintain gun safety whether there is a law or not; irresponsible people will ignore the law.” Workman went on to say that current child endangerment laws and other statutes were designed to prevent the types of accidents that claimed the three recent victims.

Even state legislators can’t see much point in trying to enact new laws. State Representative Sam Hunt said gun rights advocates have for years fought—and succeeded—in preventing new legislation that would strengthen restrictions on firearms sales at gun shows. “It’s pretty strong from the gun lobby that they don’t want to see any change (to stricter laws) under any circumstance,” Hunt said.

Portland child gun death attorneys point out that many states have child access prevention laws whereby adults can be held criminally responsible for not properly storing their firearms or for allowing children to have access to guns.

When a child sees an unattended gun in their own home or at a friend’s house, they have absolutely no reason to think of the weapon as dangerous. After all, their reasoning would be that if the object posed any real threat, surely the adults of the house wouldn’t just leave it lying around. Who could blame them for thinking that way? And what is the thought process behind leaving a loaded weapon unattended in a house or car where children as young as two or three can get their hands on them?

Portland personal injury attorneys are determined to hold irresponsible gun owners liable for the injuries and deaths sustained by innocent children who thought they were playing with, pointing and shooting toy guns. If your child has been a victim of this kind of gross negligence, contact a reputable and experienced lawyer. Not only will you help get justice for your own child, but you may also protect other children from suffering the same fate.

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