A Toddler Shot His Mother In The Head, Tell Me Again That We Don’t Need Stricter Gun Safety Laws

Screen Shot 2014-11-26 at 8.37.09 AMA Tulsa woman is dead after her toddler accidentally shot her in the head. Police say she was changing her one-year-old’s diaper when her three-year-old son somehow found the gun under the couch and managed to pull the trigger.

Can we just stop and think about that scene for a minute? 26-year-old Christa Engles was changing her one-year-old’s diaper when she was shot in the head and killed by her three-year-old. Unimaginable horror. The grandmother came in and found the two children covered in blood. The little boy was taken from the home to be interviewed by police, it’s been reported he was repeating the words, “Mommy shot. Mommy shot.” Police say the story the boy told confirms that he found the semi-automatic handgun under the couch and shot it. Now the usual questions will get hurled around:

Why wasn’t the gun locked up?

Why was it loaded?

Why wasn’t the safety on?

Who leaves a gun where a toddler can reach it?

Every time one of these horrific gun accidents happen, it’s the same chorus. The parents or victims are labeled as people who “obviously didn’t know how to handle or store a gun.” But Engles was Army veteran. She clearly knew better. And these accidents don’t just happen to people who don’t know how to handle weapons. We seem to put these accidents in a box labeled “will never happen to me,” when in fact, it can happen to anyone who has an unsecured, loaded gun. Accidental gun deaths happen in all types of households.

As the New York Times noted in an article about the NRA’s skewing of gun accident statistics, many times accidental deaths are not recorded as such. Anything the NRA can do to convince us children are safe from guns, they’ll do:

“…scores of accidental killings are not reflected in the official statistics that have framed the debate over how to protect children from guns.

The National Rifle Association cited the lower official numbers this year in a fact sheet opposing ”safe storage” laws, saying children were more likely to be killed by falls, poisoning or environmental factors ”” an incorrect assertion if the actual number of accidental firearm deaths is significantly higher.”

The article also notes that fewer than 20 states have enacted laws to hold adults criminally liable if they fail to store guns safely and children access them and cause harm to themselves or others.

We need control. We need regulation. We need safe storage laws. Accidents like this do not happen in a vacuum — let’s stop pretending they do. Someone needs to be held criminally liable. In this case, the owner of the gun is already paying the ultimate price — her life is over and her kids are growing up without her, with this horrific memory burned on their young brains. We’ve become so numb to these terrible accidents, we act as if there is no solution — but there is. Let’s tighten up the safety and storage laws, and examine the statistics in 10 years. Then we can argue about whether regulation works or not. If we’re not even willing to make the tiniest changes to safety laws — what other options do we have?

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