Over the past three weeks in western Washington,
three kids have been accidentally shot, two of them
fatally, raising concerns over gun safety and the ease in
which children are able to discharge firearms.
Early Wednesday morning, a 3-year-old boy shot himself
with a handgun inside his family’s car at a gas station in
Tacoma, Wash. Police there say the firearm had been placed
under the front seat, where the boy found it after
escaping from his car seat.
Last week, a 7-year-old girl from Camano Island, Wash. was
shot to death by a younger sibling who found their
father’s gun inside the glove compartment of the family
van, which was parked in Stanwood, Wash. The father was
Derek Carlile, a 30-year-old Marysville police officer who
left his children in the car with a loaded weapon.
An 8-year-old Bremerton girl remains in the intensive
care unit at Harborview Medical Center after a classmate
brought a gun to Armin Jahr Elementary school, where
police say it accidentally discharged from inside the
“There’s no such thing as a safe gun. The point of a gun
is that it is dangerous,” said John Clark, a firearms
instructor at Wade’s Eastside Gun Shop in Bellevue, Wash.
“Its primary purpose is to kill people, and sometimes we
lose sight of that fact.”
Clark said it is up to individual gun owners, not
manufacturers, to ensure that firearms are safe around
children. In fact, he said most firearms do not have a
safety switch, but instead are equipped with “passive
controls” to ensure the gun doesn’t fire unless the
trigger is pressed.
Many popular pistols, however, take just five pounds of
pressure to fire, making it relatively easy for a toddler
to pull the trigger.
“Their hands are small, to get at the trigger in such a
way that it would be aimed I think might be difficult. To
just move the trigger, probably any human can make that
happen,” Clark said. “He might have to use both hands.”
Chad Curtis, a manager at the shop, said guns are made to
fire easily in case of a life or death situation and are
not made with children in mind.
“If we over-complicate the weapon to a point that it
hinders you and your ability to use it at a time when you
need it … it defeats the purpose of buying one for self-
defense,” Curtis said, which is why guns should be locked
up or locked away when out of your sight.
Curtis said gun owners should use items such as trigger
locks, cable locks and safes to ensure firearms are safely
secured when not on your person.
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