Three children have been shot in less than a month in the state, two more than the annual average. Two have died and one 8-year old girl is recovering from her injuries. As is usually the case when tragedies like this occur, legislators and many within the community are asking if better gun laws could have prevented the accidents and if new laws could prevent similar future ones.
The latest accident happened as a man got out of his car to pump gas, placing his gun underneath the seat. His girlfriend went inside the convenience store and two children remained in the car. A 3-year old boy grabbed the weapon from under the seat and shot himself in the head, killing him instantly.
The gun-owner, the boy’s mother’s boyfriend in this case, was licensed to carry a concealed weapon, and the law requires him to place the gun in a concealed place if he has to leave it in the vehicle, which by all reports he did. But, should he face criminal charges for leaving the weapon accessibly to the tot? Many think so.
Currently, there is no law in the state about leaving weapons accessible to children. Some legislators are hoping to make this offense one of “reckless endangerment”, a gross misdemeanor charge. Last session the same suggestion was made, but the idea didn’t make it out of committee.
In another case, a 7-year old girl was killed when her younger brother handled his father’s handgun that had been left in the vehicle as he stood outside speaking to the children’s’ mother. The father, in this case, was a police officer.
An 8-year old girl is recovering from critical injuries that occurred when a classmate brought a handgun to school and it accidentally discharged in his backpack. Of all of the recent child-shootings, the 9-year old boy in this case is the only one to have thus far been charged with a crime. He pled guilty to reckless endangerment and bringing a weapon to school.
Some lawmakers object to changing the law, saying the current reckless endangerment law goes far enough. Gun rights advocate and spokesman for the Second Amendment Foundation Dave Workman says, “We can discuss all sort of firearms safety mandates, but that’s not going to make any difference and bring these children back. I’m not sure that anything could have prevented either incident, except a little common sense.”
Many agree with Workman, that the incidents were accidents and tragic ones, but that no legislation should be passed in a knee jerk reaction. Instead, they believe gun control laws in the state are good enough as-is.
There are many gun laws in the state of Washington, keeping gun owners from acting in a manner that would put them or other people at risk. Many people who end up running afoul of these laws are otherwise law-abiding citizens and lawful gun owners.
When you are charged with a gun crime, you need someone on your side who understands your rights. Though it’s unlikely your offense ended in tragedy like the deaths of these children, even a misdemeanor charge can dramatically impact your life.
Contact our offices today to discuss the details of your case and how we might be able to help.