Las Vegas police arrested a 31-year-old man after he allegedly discharged a firearm through a wall, and the bullet struck and gravely injured a five-year-old child in the shoulder. He has been charged with seven counts of "child neglect", "child abuse resulting in substantial bodily harm with a deadly weapon", "being a prohibited person with a handgun" and one charge of "discharging a gun into an occupied structure".
The accused lived in an apartment that shared a common south wall. The child was found on the other side of the shared wall. A small hole, consistent with a gunshot, was on the south wall of the bathroom.
The suspect was previously convicted in Nevada for robbery in 2016 and in 2021 for being a "prohibited person in possession of a firearm". Justine Fatigue "LVMPD: Las Vegas man faces child neglect charges after police find child, 5, with gunshot wound" https://www.ktnv.com/news/crime/lvmpd-las-vegas-man-faces-7-counts-of-child-neglect-after-police-find-child-with-gunshot-wound (Nov. 29, 2023).
Commentary and Checklist
Per a Pew Research analysis of information from the CDC (https://www.pewresearch.org/short-reads/2023/04/06/gun-deaths-among-us-kids-rose-50-percent-in-two-years/), the number of children and teens killed by gunfire in the United States increased 50 percent between 2019 and 2021.
Unlike the accidental situation in the article (in which a neighbor discharged a weapon that injured a child in the next apartment), most felony child neglect charges stem from situations with improper storage of guns by gun owners or for allowing children access to guns. About half of the states have enacted child access prevention or CAP laws in an effort to protect children.
CAP laws are aimed at adult gun owners who allow children access to their firearms.
Every state's law is different. For example, in Delaware, the law states: "It is a crime to intentionally or recklessly store or leave a loaded firearm within the reach or easy access of a minor, if the minor obtains the firearm and uses it to inflict serious physical injury or death." In Georgia, the law states that parents can be charged if "they know of a minor's unlawful possession of a handgun and fail to make reasonable efforts to prevent it." Parents are prohibited from "intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly furnishing, or permitting a minor to possess, a handgun if they are aware of a 'substantial risk' the minor will use it to commit a felony."
What are safe gun storage practices?
· Lock your gun; keep the key on you.
· Guns should be stored unloaded, uncocked, and securely locked out of sight or reach.
· Check the chamber of a semi-automatic handgun for bullets when removing the magazine.
· Lock ammunition up separately from your gun.
· Keep ammunition away from moisture and heat.
· Do not store your gun or ammunition with valuables that are likely to be stolen.
· Do not store your gun under a bed, mattress or in an unlocked bedroom drawer. A hidden gun is not a safe gun.