Officials said Thursday that a 3-year-old boy died after shooting himself with a gun he found in his parents’ nightstand. The incident occurred at a home near DeLand when the child was being watched by his eight-year-old brother and 16-year-old sister while their parents had gone out for groceries.
Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood at a news conference Thursday said the gun belonged to the child’s father, who is a state corrections officer. The gun had no trigger lock and was not stored in a safe, Chitwood said. The child’s father told investigators that the electronic lock on the safe had not been working for some time now.
According to Chitwood, the 3-year-old boy removed the loaded gun from his parents’ nightstand in the master bedroom Wednesday evening. He then shot himself in the head. His sister called 911, saying that her brother was not breathing. His parents rushed home as deputies and paramedics also arrived to take the boy to a hospital but he didn’t make it.
Chitwood said his office was investigating the case and would send its finding to the State Attorney’s office. “I cannot imagine there’s anything in the law books that can punish that family more than what happened last night,” Chitwood said.
“To all parents that own guns: If you have little ones, even teenagers, you got to lock them up, you have to lock them up because you just don’t know,” he advised.
In 2022, there were more than 320 unintentional shootings by children across the country, leading to the deaths of 145 people with 189 injuries, as stated by the advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety. So far this year, 20 unintentional shootings by children have been recorded, with nine deaths and 12 injuries.