Many Pittsburgh-area police agencies have only vague policies on weapon storage at home, leaving it up to officers to store their guns for easy access yet out of the reach of children, reports the city’s Post-Gazette. Though accidental shootings involving the children of police are rare in Western Pennsylvania, a pair of dismaying cases in as many months shows that even among professionals, keeping weapons safe but accessible isn’t always simple. In one, a 4-year-old boy died after he got his father’s .45-caliber service weapon from a bedroom closet. In the other, a state trooper’s son, also 4, accidentally wounded himself with his father’s personal gun at their home.
Officers’ stored guns should be under lock and key at home, said Michael Lesnick, a former federal police officer from Illinois whose 3-year-old son, Joshua, accidentally killed himself three years ago with a pistol he found in his father’s nightstand. He pleaded no contest to charges of keeping a loaded firearm near a child and now shares his story as a cautionary tale for other officers. Lesnick said, “I carry a lot of guilt because, the bottom line, is this is my fault because if anyone knew better, it was me. Not only was I a cop, I was a firearms instructor. I used to stand up in front of people and say, ‘don’t do this.'” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 138 children and teens were killed accidently by guns in 2007, and 3,588 were shot accidentally but survived in 2009. But the data isn’t broken down to show cases involving law enforcement.