October 3, 2012 11:41:34 AM
Sarah Fowler - email@example.com
NEW HOPE -- A two-year-old child shot himself after being left unattended in a room with a loaded handgun on Saturday, but law enforcement officials say they are no longer investigating the incident and no charges will be filed for negligence.
Chief Deputy Marc Miley of the Lowndes County Sheriff's Department confirmed the boy shot himself in the hand with a gun he found in his parents' home in a middle-class neighborhood in New Hope.
Miley said the .40-caliber Springfield handgun was in an unlocked gun box on top of a dresser when the child used the drawers as a ladder to reach the top. The boy then apparently opened the gun box and fired the weapon.
Miley said when deputies arrived at the 155 Parkwood residence, EMTs were treating the child for minor injuries, saying there were "droplets of blood."
The child was transported to Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle, where he was treated and released.
Miley said the boy was under his father's supervision at the time of the shooting. His mother was not home.
Miley said the shooting was ruled as an accident.
Forty percent of American children live in a home with gun, according to a 1999 study.
Lisa Green, resident agent in charge of the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms field office in Oxford, encouraged gun owners to be sure guns are stored in a safe location.
"Although this is not an incident under ATF's jurisdiction, ATF encourages gun owners to be responsible in all aspects of their firearms, keeping them away from your children, including purchasing and storing your firearms to ensure they do not get into the wrong hands," Green said. "This includes children."
Miley echoed Green's advice.
"If you're going to have a gun in your house, keep it secured and away from children," he said. "Teach them the dangers and school them on what can happen. Keep (your gun) high, keep it away and don't let them know where it is."
Sarah Fowler covers crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch.