Tulsa Toddler Finding Parents' Gun Reinforces Importance Of Safe Storage

Wednesday, July 25th 2012, 7:02 pm
By: News On 6

A three-year-old Tulsa girl is in serious condition after she accidentally shot herself in the leg Tuesday night.

Police said the little girl was alone in her parents' bedroom in their home in the 8900 block of East Marshall Street, when she found the unlocked nine millimeter handgun.

One parent told police the gun was under the mattress. The other parent thought it was on the nightstand.

Either way, gun safety experts say situations like this one can be avoided.

The parents were in the living room. A one-year-old and a seven-year-old were also in the house.

Captain Karen Tipler said, although charges most likely will not be filed, the incident does raise questions about gun safety.

"Why was it loaded? Why didn't they have a lock on it?" Captain Tipler said.

7/24/2012 Related Story: Tulsa Toddler Accidentally Shoots Herself With Parents' Gun

Eric Fuson is the manager of the 2A Shooting Center.

"Should this happen? No. This should not happen," Fuson said. "If the precautions are taken to secure those firearms, that will prevent the majority of accidental shootings."

Fuson said kids are naturally curious, and if a parent chooses to keep a firearm in the house, every measure should be taken to keep guns out of little hands.

"I'm a parent. I've got three boys at home. None that age, but when my boys were that age, I kept my gun inaccessible and unloaded," Fuson said.

There are precautions designed to make the gun unable to be fired, even if it is somehow accessible.

Fuson said, by law, a safety lock must be sold with every handgun. If you don't have one, he said they are cheap to get—from $2 to $15.

He said an easier and even cheaper option is the chamber flag. It prevents ammunition from loading into the chamber. Safety cartridges are another alternative.

There is a trade-off, though, if your gun is locked. Fuson said you can't use it as quickly to defend your family.

He said, to have it both ways, it's best to keep your gun safely locked up, but easily accessible to a responsible party. A fast key-entry safe would be ideal.

The Tulsa girl who accidentally shot herself Tuesday night used a nine millimeter handgun, which can weigh anywhere from 10 ounces to four pounds.

Fuson said it only takes a few pounds of pressure for that trigger to go off.

Captain Tipler said she hopes parents take home a valuable lesson about gun safety, after this unfortunate incident.