Image courtesy KIRO-TV Seattle
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Image courtesy KIRO-TV Seattle

Here at TTAG, we really like to award the IGOTD prize to morons who do stupid things with guns, (preferably in clueless YouTube videos) and survive to learn from their experiences. Hopefully. Those almost-comic IGOTDs fuck up on camera, nodoby dies, and we watch and laugh and comment and it’s all good clean fun. This isn’t one of those feel-good IGOTD stories…

90 miles south of the scene of yesterday’s IGOTD, another child has died because another incomprehensibly stupid father left his children alone in a car with a loaded handgun.

Children, left alone, in a parked car with a loaded unsecured gun? Twice in four days?

What the fuck were these idiots thinking?

From the Tacoma News-Tribune:

Tacoma police say a 3-year-old boy accidentally shot and killed himself early today while his mother was inside a convenience store.

The child and his younger sister were in a car with their mother and her boyfriend, police spokesman Naveed Benjamin said.

The boyfriend stopped just before 12:30 a.m. to get gas at a station in the 5400 block of Tacoma Mall Boulevard, police reported. (The adults and children were riding in a minivan with Oregon plates but Benjamin said they lived in the area.)

The man told police that he put his loaded handgun under the driver’s side seat and got out to pump gas. The mother, meanwhile, got out of the car and went into the convenience store, police reported.

The siblings were inside the car. The boy got out of his car seat.

“He makes his way to the front to find this pistol,” Benjamin said.

The gun fired, striking the boy in the head. Paramedics took the boy to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead, Benjamin said.

The girl, believed to be about 1, was not injured.

Tacoma police detectives responded to the gas station and interviewed the mother and boyfriend. Both were later released.

Benjamin said the boyfriend had a concealed weapons permit and legally owned the gun that killed the boy.

Under state law, people with concealed weapons permits can have their weapons in the car with them but they either need to have them on their person or unloaded and in a locked container, Benjamin said.

“If you have a concealed weapon permit and you are traveling, the weapon has to be on you,” he said. “The key issue is to have control of your weapon.”

Tacoma police haven’t released why the man put his gun under the seat and why the adults and children were driving around after midnight.

The Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office has not released the boy’s name.

The boy’s death is the third shooting of a child in recent weeks in western Washington.

The 7-year-old daughter of a Marysville police officer in Stanwood was shot on Saturday when a sibling found a gun and fired while the parents were out of their car. She died the next day.

On Feb. 22, an 8-year-old girl was critically wounded in a Bremerton classroom when a gun fired from the backpack of a 9-year-old boy as he put it on a desk.

“It’s another tragedy in a very short period of time,” Benjamin said.

It highlights the need for people to secure guns, he said.

“You can’t predict what children are going to do,” he said. “You need to unload and lock it up if you’re not carrying it.”

“And keep it out of the hands of children,” Benjamin said. “It’s really not that hard to practice firearm safety.”

Officer Benjamin is exactly right, and his words echo what I wrote just yesterday. It makes me sick to have to say this again, just one day later, after another child has died:

Every responsible shooter knows that if you’ve got children your guns must either be 1) locked in the safe or 2) secured on your hip.

No exceptions. No excuses. Ever.



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  1. Some people are too stupid to breed. These guys should be sterilized. The whole point of a conceal and carry is to protect your family. How do you leave a unattended gun in a unattended car with your kid? What if someone had tried to steal the car? Score! Car, gun and a kid! What a spree that would be. Sadly a kid just blew his own head off with daddy’s gun. Makes me so mad.

    Branding iron. This guys balls. The end.

  2. Hold on, now. Washington State law says exactly this: “(2)(a) A person shall not carry or place a loaded pistol in any vehicle unless the person has a license to carry a concealed pistol and: (i) The pistol is on the licensee’s person, (ii) the licensee is within the vehicle at all times that the pistol is there, or (iii) the licensee is away from the vehicle and the pistol is locked within the vehicle and concealed from view from outside the vehicle.”

    If you read this carefully, you’ll see that it’s legal for a permit holder to leave a loaded handgun in a car as long as the gun is “locked within the vehicle and concealed from view”. The gun does not need to be unloaded. The phrase “locked within the vehicle and concealed from view” is vague–it does not specifically call for a locked container, and one can interpret it to mean that the loaded gun can be stored in the glove box or under a seat, as long as the car itself is locked.

    Of course, that doesn’t excuse poor judgment, like leaving kids in the car with the gun. But the actions of adults in incidents like this may not be illegal under this specific law, until the law is reworded.

    The police spokesperson and the newspaper should get those details right.

      • I’m not defending the idiotic actions of the adults in this case. All I’m saying is that the law is vague, and even the police don’t fully understand the law.

      • Oh, he did something wrong. A kid is dead because he failed to use some common sense. You don’t leave loaded firearms where kids can get to them. Under any condition. No exceptions. None.

        • One of the things I love about TTAG is that you guys write things like this.

          “What the fuck were these idiots thinking?”

          I think these posts are among the most important and beneficial to your readership, highlighting the importance of safety and common sense.

          • “I think these posts are among the most important and beneficial to your readership, highlighting the importance of safety and common sense.”

            Something that is stressed at least twice a week in articles and whatnot even when there is no tragedy to highlight the reason for doing so.

            Thanks for coming predictably out of the woodwork for the post though. Good to see you.

  3. Based on this article and one other, I haven’t seen anything that ties the boyfriend biologically to the kids. Since there doesn’t appear to be anything that ties him to the surviving child other than the relationship with the mother, my Jump-To-Conclusions Mat™ tells me that their relationship is certainly over, and he’s gone. A wife is most likely not going to sue/prosecute a husband, as in the situation yesterday in Washington, but a mom can sure as hell sue the pants off an ex-boyfriend. I hope she goes after him for everything he’s got, and uses it to put the surviving child through college.

    • “I hope she goes after him for everything he’s got, and uses it to put the surviving child through college.”

      In most of these kinds of cases, “everything he’s got” is pretty much nothing. Unless there is some insurance or perhaps a responsible deep pocket, you will not be able to get an attorney to take the case on a contingent fee. And paying an attorney an hourly rate to go after a guy with no assets is simply throwing good money after bad. Even if you get a judgment, in most cases the other side will simply discharge it bankruptcy.

    • Woman’s fault too. She must’ve known about the gun, and she left it alone with the kids too. They probably had done that same thing a bunch of times. This stuff pisses me off so much. Poor kid…

  4. If the boyfriend isn’t the biological father, I feel sorrow for the actual dad. Hopefully he is in a position to get custody of the remaining child.

  5. Nothing excuses the stupid behavior of these idiots, but events like this and the one from yesterday raise one of the concerns that I have brought up in the past with respect to certain types of guns – namely the striker kind that have relatively weak trigger pulls. All of the trigger safeties in the world won’t save you if someone picks up the gun and puts pressure on the trigger. Now, I know I am splitting hairs here a bit, but given the age of the child in this incident, (3 years), I wonder if the end result would have been different had he been facing a double action trigger. The 15 pound pull on my S&W snubbie is likely more resistance than a 3 year old could overcome as is the close to 10 pound resistance on my DA/SA guns. On the other hand, the 4-ish pound resistance on my old XDM would be much easier for a small child to pull.

    Okay – I know that I’m making a big assumption on the type of gun used, but given market share and the fact that a three year old was able to trigger the gun, there is a decent chance that this was a basic striker fired gun; a Glock, XDM or M&P

    Even on the range sometimes when in SA mode, my gun fires a bit too easily for my taste. In DA mode, it does not go off until I absolutely want it to.

    In the end of course, relying on trigger weight to determine whether your child shoots themselves or not is incredibly stupid, but as we like to say in the Computer Security field, one practices defense in depth – erect numerous safeguards to help protect you should one or more be breached. I wonder if in this case, a DA/SA or DAO gun might have made the difference.

    • Tests with toddlers and inert guns show that they frequently turn the gun around and put their thumbs through the trigger guard while they look down the barrel. With both thumbs, many small children have sufficient strength to pull a DA trigger. (Unless it,s a Nagant revolver.)

    • That may all be true. It is not however. As another mentioned, they use their thumbs. My reason for replying is this; WTF are you talking about? It would seem you are advocating having a gun unsecured is safe (er) with a heavy trigger spring. There is NOTHING safe or even remotely okay with this logic. There is also nothing more chilling than an unsupervised kid handling a found weapon. EVER. I can’t say what I think because I am civil. Guns are great. They are useful tools but unlike other tools they have a pesky habit of making a momentary lapse of common sense become a tragedy that can’t be undone. Remember the rules? The part about never putting your finger on the trigger or the part about never pointing at anything you are not prepared to destroy? Well, when you leave it unattended you do just that… by proxy. The victim is often a curious child and that is inexcusable. As much as I hate people that do this for all the political reasons that all pales in comparison to the anger at the senseless loss of innocent life. And remember, Even if you don’t have kids or yours are away, it could be someone else’s kid. ALWAYS be in control of your deadly weapons and forget the nonsense about trigger pulls. I do however agree that these partially cocked-striker fired pistols are not good for much due to the accidental discharge rate. Some noteable police depts have traded these in for DAO models to combat the liability of negligent discharge accidents. Also several experts in handgun combat training argue that most people, including law enforcement simply doe not or can not train enough to eliminate that risk. That says a lot.
      Thank you.

  6. Even if not a per se violation of Washington’s concealed carry law, this certainly should be criminal negligence. If it’s not the law that you go to jail for a long time when a minor accidentally kills himself with your loaded gun, it sure ought to be.

  7. um holster perhaps? it drives me crazy that i live in the “free state” and cannot CCW, but IDIOTS like this dude in shall issue states conduct themselves in this manner.

    • What state are you in again?

      And yes, holsters are not that expensive. You can get one for less than $30 and you can get a really good one for less than $100.

  8. The article says it was the boyfriend’s gun, yet most here seem to think that it was the father. Huh? How’s that? There are a couple of things I didn’t understand. First, if the guy had a CCW, why’d he leave his gun in the car? If ’twas me, I’d want to have the gun while refueling, ’cause that’s when you are most likely to get attacked. Second, how the hell did a three year old get out of his car seat???

  9. Standing outside the car pumping gas is a good time to be holding the gun, it’s an opportunity for bad guys. Why would he leave it under the seat? I’m sure he’ll be asking himself that question for the rest of his life.

  10. I dont get it, with all the anti gun people out there, how many times do you hear about this or a gun in the house the dad left out after cleaning so on and so on. Then at the end f the story, “No Charges have been pressed, it was a terrible accident” Instead of going after responsible gun owners how about throw this guy in prison. He IS THE ONLY REASON this kid is dead.

    • What you are saying contains logic and reason. Antigun folk possess no understanding of what you just said.

    • The “terrible accident while cleaning a gun” thing bugs me. If I’m cleaning a bolt-action rifle, the bolt is usually completely out of the gun. If a pistol, it’s field-stripped and I clean the pieces individually. Ammo is (sofar) always in a locker in another room. And that’s not even an intentional procedure, it’s just how things go. Come home from range with unloaded guns, put ammo and other sundries away, then either clean guns immediately or put them away too. I can’t help thinking that all these gun cleaning accidents, especially the ones where someone shoots themselves, aren’t really accidents (or else there was some really ‘special’ gun handling involved)

  11. When this went to press, media reports suggested that the gun owner was the boy’s father. Subsequent reports show that he is not the child’s father, but only the mother’s boyfriend.

  12. The story is BS. Can your kid get out of his car seat? Only if it’s unbuckled. The entire journey from rear car seat to front floor gun is a bit bizarre and I question the strength and ability of a 3 year old ( yea I have had rug rats) to complete the course. May he rest peacefully. But the story is fantasy.

  13. As to the last post. My 3 year old daughter can do pull ups – lifting herself off the ground. Climb over the back of the couch from either side. Differentiate between a revolver, semi automatic pistol, a shotgun or rifle. Can count to nearly 100 on her own. IS smart enough to slip her child seat belts…. If anything this tragedy says two things. Don’t underestimate stupid adults or the ignorance/intelligence of young children.

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