The death of a 3-year-old boy yesterday after what appeared to be an accidental shooting at a home was the latest in a series of similar incidents this year in the Houston area, calling attention to gun safety and the criminal prosecution of adults who leave firearms accessible to children, the Houston Chronicle reports. The boy was at his grandparents’ house Sunday when he was shot with a gun that had been stowed on or near a nightstand, said Harris County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Tebben Lewis, who could not confirm who fired the weapon. Initial reports indicated the boy’s wound was self-inflicted and the handgun was his grandfather’s.
The incident brings the number of accidental child shootings this year in Harris County to at least five, including at least three deaths. Under Texas law, the child’s caregivers could be prosecuted for making a firearm accessible to a child, a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail. No one is facing charges yet in any of this year’s child shootings in Harris County. No national registry exists showing how often adults are prosecuted for violating safe gun storage laws. Over the last eight years, 14 people have been charged in Harris County for making a firearm accessible to a child, according to the district attorney’s office. The latest was Krystal Kellermann, who was indicted last month, accused of leaving a readily dischargeable firearm in a closet. Seven months prior, Kellermann left her three young children alone for three hours in their home as she smoked a cigarette and talked on her cellphone in the backyard, according to Child Protective Services reports. As they played, one of her sons found the .40 caliber Smith & Wesson in the master bathroom closet and one boy was accidentally shot and killed.