Toddler Shoots And Kills Mother Who Probably Thought She Was A Responsible Gun Owner

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A mother died yesterday at an Idaho Walmart after being shot with her own gun. She was carrying it in her purse, lawfully, but her toddler reached in and accidentally set it off, shooting her. Why wasn’t the safety on? Why was a purse with a gun in it in the reach of a 2-year old to begin with? And why did she feel the need to bring a gun into a Walmart? I’m not sure there are any valid responses to these questions and answering them won’t bring this mother back but it’s a discussion we must have in order to prevent this from happening again.

From USA Today:

Veronica J. Rutledge, 29, of Blackfoot, Idaho, was shopping at a Walmart in this Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, suburb with four children in tow. One of the children, a boy about 2 years old, was left in a shopping cart, reached into his mother’s purse at about 10:20 a.m. MT, and the weapon went off once, said Lt. Stu Miller, Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office spokesman.

“It appears to be a pretty tragic accident,” Miller said. Rutledge was dead by the time deputies arrived.

Rutledge “was a beautiful, young, loving mother,” said her father-in-law, Terry Rutledge. “She was not the least bit irresponsible. She was taken much too soon.”

I really am having trouble understanding this and I am not trying to be flip, but why in the world was a purse with a gun in it anywhere near a child? And why was a gun in an Idaho Walmart? It doesn’t seem like a place where you would end up needing protection. I also find it hard to believe this woman was “not the least bit irresponsible” if she left her gun in the reach of a toddler. That sounds like the very definition of irresponsible. I hate that she paid for that mistake with her life and I don’t like to speak ill of the dead but this needs to be discussed so we can learn from it.

I am a gun rights supporter, but in the mildest of ways. I do not own any guns myself but I recognize that we cannot totally take away the right to bear arms. However, we need to be far more reasonable about it. The stories in the news of children getting a hold of guns and shooting themselves or other people by mistake are too common for this discussion to not take place and for action to not be taken. I am tired of hearing about how so many gun owners are responsible- if that is the case, why do these things keep happening? I cannot say that I have a solution in mind but I do think the law needs to recognize that small children should be nowhere near loaded weapons and that there are places where loaded weapons should NEVER be allowed. I am not sure there is ever a reason to bring a gun into a retail store other than just to say that you can and have the right to.

At the end of the day, I’m relieved all of the children involved were uninjured. It is not their fault that this woman made such a tragically irresponsible choice. May she rest in peace and I hope we all learn something from this. But if history is any indication, nothing will change and we will read about another similar case in a week or so.

(Image: Prapann/Shutterstock)