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Tragedy: 4-Year Old Dies From Self-Inflicted Gunshot Wound

Today, a man and woman are in jail after their 4-year old child died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head yesterday. How did this tragedy happen, and was there anything the couple could have done differently so that their child would still be alive?

 

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Our company’s mission is to provide knowledge and training to firearm owners so that protect themselves and others responsibly. You can see our complete mission statement here.

Some of the content we publish is an opinion, think of gear reviews, or our take on a piece of gun legislation. Other content is born of much research and observation and has significant safety or survival implications.

That is why last month, I wrote a post titled Stop Using Your Car as a Holster. In the post, I present six reasons why your handgun should not be stored or carried in any other method than in a holster on your body.

One of the six reasons mentioned in the post is- unauthorized access by children. As you probably guessed by now, the horrific incident involving the 4-year-old occurred inside a vehicle.

Child Dies from Self-Inflicted Gunshot Wound in Manitou Springs:

According to news reports, a father and mother along with two children were in a vehicle. The father exited the car to go into a store and make a purchase. However, he left his firearm inside the car with the two children and their mother.

It is unclear if the male removed the pistol from a holster and left it behind because he had to go into a gun-free zone or was left routinely inside the vehicle.

self inflicted gunshot

The report also does not describe where inside the vehicle the gun was left. Was it in a car holster, center console, backpack, etc. we just don’t know? What we do know is that it was accessible to the child and loaded.

The mother and children waited in the vehicle. At some point, the 4-year-old retrieved the handgun and shot himself in the head. The child died on the scene from his self-inflicted injury.

A couple of quick observations:

The type of handgun used does not matter.

If the firearm had a manual external safety or not is irrelevant. A child can quickly disengage a manual safety.

Nor does the trigger pull weight have any bearing on this tragedy. Most 4-year-olds possess the requisite strength to squeeze a double-action trigger and fire the pistol.

child dies

The parents of the deceased 4-year-old likely never thought their child would access the firearm.

We also can’t blame the child even if they were taught never to touch a gun.

I often hear people say something like:

My dad had loaded firearms all over the house when I grew up. I was taught never to touch them, and if I did, I would get my butt whipped.

Okay, congratulations.

You obeyed your parents and never touched the gun. You made it, many children have not.

Should we say any child who shoots themselves deserves what happened because they disobeyed their parents? This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t teach our kids firearm safety. But recognize the reality is children occasionally disobey their parents.

The Responsibility is Ours:

Who is responsible for gun safety? The child or the owner? If you have trouble answering that question, I pray you seriously consider what responsibilities you have not only as a gun owner but as a parent.

What is the Purpose of this Post?

The reason I wrote this post is not so I could say, “I told you so.”

Instead, I pray to God that I could be proven wrong and that leaving an unsecured gun in the car would never lead to a child’s unnecessary death.

But, unfortunately, I have done the research and know this isn’t the case. This story is just one of many similar incidents.

The purpose is to address a significant number of social media responses to the original post. Unfortunately, many readers discounted the warnings of the post. The typical justification is that they can access the gun more quickly if they use a car holster. This reason is probably factually accurate.

However, the downside of this practice far outweighs the speed concern. Especially when you could access the firearm from your on-body holster, nearly as fast as you could with a dash-mounted holster through training.

We have to balance firearm accessibility with security. On-body carry is best. If you must off-body carry, a secure option like this from VaraSafety is preferable.

Some equated the gun to a cell phone and said in the same way people don’t forget their phone in the; they likewise wouldn’t forget their gun. There are a few problems with this argument.

First, people forget their cell phones in vehicles all the time.

Secondly, the potential ramifications from forgetting a cell phone inside the vehicle, are far different than those associated with a firearm.

And finally, people forget that others have tragically left their children in vehicles. At times all humans forget things, it’s kinda inevitable.

Judge Not:

Again, we don’t know how the father stored the gun inside the car. We just know it was left behind.

We also know that the mother was in the vehicle with the children the whole time. Does the mother have culpability?  Should she have paid better attention to what the children were doing?

Let’s consider some things:

Did the mother even know the gun was in the vehicle? If she didn’t, would it be reasonable to assume the father left a loaded gun within the children’s reach?

Is it plausible that a responsible parent could look away for any period in which a child could access a firearm? Have you ever sat in the car or a room with a 4-year-old and looked away for more than 30 seconds? How long does it take for a child to get a gun and squeeze a trigger?

self-inflicted child gunshot wound

Imagine the depth of despair, regret, remorse, and pain the parents have and will have for the remainder of their Earthly life. Even if they taught their child not to touch a gun, does that take any of this grief away? Does their arrest bring the child back from death?

What happens with the other child? If there are responsible family members, the child may be with them. If not, the other child is with state child protective services. Does anyone think that child doesn’t desire to be with their parents?

The impact of our decisions is like ripples in water, expanding out and affecting many more people than we may realize.

Don’t mistake these words as somehow a defense of the parent’s actions. They are ultimately responsible for their child’s wellbeing. Perhaps they, like some of the readers of the original article, never thought about the downside of not carrying the gun with you.

I just wanted us to pause and remember that they are people who made mistakes, and we also make mistakes. The way we reduce the likelihood of tragic outcomes is to consider what the best practice is. Then implement this to limit our exposure to risk and mistakes.

Take Time to Learn From Others:

Be responsible and thoughtfully consider the sincere advice to keep the gun on your person in every possible situation. If you need to train a bit more so you can access your firearm from a holster on your body, do it. This behavior is the responsible thing to do.

And when you simply cannot keep it on your person, store it safely.

Through tragedies like these, may our eyes and hearts be opened to resolve to be responsible gun owners so that our actions result in only good and not harm.

If you’re a new gun owner, I recommend checking out our FREE Gun Safety Course. The course is not just for beginners but anyone looking to learn how to be safe with a handgun in the context of home and self-defense.

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12 Responses to Tragedy: 4-Year Old Dies From Self-Inflicted Gunshot Wound

  1. Willy July 7, 2021 at 4:56 pm #

    Everyone who has young children and owns a firearm/s MUST show their children the dangers of firearms,by showing them the damage that can be done to the human body by purchasing a Cantaloupe melon and taking the children and the melon out to a secluded location,set up the melon,AND SHOOT IT!You must also teach children to NOT touch any firearm.You must teach them that if they see a firearm,they are not to touch it,and to go and tell an adult.If your children wish to handle firearms you teach them firearm safety at a very young age and that they can handle and shoot a firearm only when mom and or dad is present.My father did these things with me and my sister when we were very young,age 5,and we NEVER had an incident with a firearm.I am now 60 years young and i am STILL firearm incident free.

  2. Rudy RAGEL Sr July 7, 2021 at 5:20 pm #

    Evidently these parents did not teach their children, about not touching or playing any firearms. Or being negligent about the gun being fully loaded and being stored improperly for the kids to mess with. Leaving a loaded firearm in your car with other individuals, in it while you do your business in a store or anywhere else, should be locked in an authorized firearm case or a gun safe that locks. Never leave a loaded weapon laying around where little ones or another adult to handle and not experienced with handling a firearm. Always think safety and being conscious about at all times. No matter what………

  3. Garry G. July 7, 2021 at 6:13 pm #

    Pretty much common sense, but there are adults who leave loaded firearms all over the house. Kids are curious and also peer pressure can influence them to pick up the firearm.
    Great article, thank you!

  4. Tom July 7, 2021 at 6:43 pm #

    I understand the negatives of carrying condition 3 and how attacked I may get for even suggesting such a heresy, but it does have some positives (e.g. knowing the gun is 100% safe) and I bet this child would still be alive had the gun not been chambered. Of course a proper storage box is the best solution. I still go back and forth over how I carry. Today at the range I did a bunch of Bill Drills with and without racking the slide after drawing from appendix. My average was 2.79 without vs 3.00 with racking, but my shots were twice as accurate racking first (not sure why). I also practiced drawing and making one shot. My best was 1.10 racking first and 1.03 not racking first. I realize these times aren’t earth shattering but I’ve only owned a gun since September. It’s hard for me to be convinced that the positives of condition 1 outweigh the negatives, especially when living in a good neighborhood. I’m still debating with myself over this.

    • Zach July 8, 2021 at 12:00 am #

      Tom, I am right there with you. I go back and forth on carrying chambered or not. You will get lots of criticism on the webs about it but everyone has to balance that risk for themselves. Your training will likely be what saves you. Keep it up.

  5. Arruda July 7, 2021 at 7:24 pm #

    Yes it’s a tragedy. Yes we pray it doesn’t happen again. But the reality as expressed in the article says it will if humans continue to act negligently. And yes, it is negligence, no matter how common or “human” it is deemed to err. We cannot excuse driving a car over a child because we forgot to look where we are driving. Likewise, if we are to consider self-defense and firearms ownership a right, we must insist that responsibility and accountability go along with the exercise of that right. It is even more important than the freedom to exercise our rights, that we do so as responsible and accountable adult citizens. The loss of any life, whether innocent child or crazed attacker, is to be avoided if possible, and to be attributed as an accountable act if inevitable.

  6. Bill July 7, 2021 at 8:08 pm #

    The husband should have INTRUSTED the MOM with the firearm- PLAIN AND SIMPLE !!!! Are you freakin kidding me ?????? This is TOTAL NEGLIGENCE !!!

  7. Tawny July 8, 2021 at 4:57 am #

    I am in just straight disbelief at the fact that dad not only left his gun in the vehicle but at the fact that he didn’t make sure that he un-chambered the fricken thing and take out the clip and not to mention doesn’t even physically hand his weapon to his wife I’ve got a 4 year old little girl and I can tell you this her safety and the safety of others is far too important to me for me too have any type of negligence whatsoever I keep not only a cable lock on it it’s also in a double safe and behind a locked door nobody has access to it except for me. This article is sad but very informational thank you.

  8. wkm1911 July 8, 2021 at 9:35 am #

    This tragedy, shows us that some people are Just Stupid. An innocent child is gone and can never be replaced. This great country of ours thru the foresight of our forefathers allow us, to arm ourselves, but when Stupid People have weapons end end result is tragic. Actions like this by Stupid People give the gun grabbers the ammunition they love. You just can’t teach Stupid.

  9. Don July 8, 2021 at 10:15 am #

    I appreciate that you tried to discuss this compassionately. It’s easy to blame the victim and even easier (and appropriate) to blame those who were negligent, but blame alone accomplishes nothing. I like the approach you took: learn lessons from it, take stock of our own habits, and apply the lessons for ourselves, without grandstanding about how you would never make those mistakes. Let’s also pray for that family whose life has changed forever.

  10. Joy Sudbrink July 11, 2021 at 1:04 pm #

    Gun safe is important!!! Either my gun is in the locked gun safe or in my holster. There are no do-overs!! I am praying for the grief and trauma of this family!!

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