Kanawha County Capt. Sean Crosier said a loaded firearm should have never been kept near a little boy who accidentally shot his 4-year-old sister in Cross Lanes earlier this month.
However, West Virginia is not one of the 11 states with laws requiring guns be locked away or that ammunition be kept separate. Gun safety advocates have highlighted these laws as an important component to preventing accidental and intentional gun deaths in children.
“Why was a live firearm within reach of children loaded? It should have been in a locked box, unloaded with the ammunition in a separate area,” Crosier told reporters.
Several studies have shown that about 55 percent of American children live in homes with access to unlocked firearms, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
“The presence of unlocked guns in the home increases the risk not only of unintentional gun injuries but of intentional shootings as well,” according to the center. “A 1999 study found that more than 75 percent of the guns used in youth suicide attempts and unintentional injuries were stored in the residence of the victim, a relative or a friend.”