Gun owners focus on safety after recent child tragedies in SWFL

Communities in Southwest Florida are asking for answers after two separate tragedies. They both saw young children get their hands on guns and end with deadly results.

Recently, two children younger than 10 years old in Fort Myers got ahold of a gun and it accidentally discharged killing one child and hurting the other.

Then, two siblings in Clewiston, a 4-year-old and a 5-year-old, found a loaded gun. A child accidentally shot their younger brother, who died from his injuries.

We spoke to gun owners about these tragedies, and they explained why gun storage and education is important.

“Anytime a customer comes in to buy a gun, we always encourage them to buy safety products to go along with that,” explained Aaron Forum, the owner of Shoot Center. “Anytime you take a concealed carry class here, we talk about how, under the law, legally if you think that a minor can access that firearm, then, you have to keep it reasonably secure.”

Gun sales are on the rise in the U.S., and millions are becoming new gun owners. That’s why Forum says continuing to remind people to store their guns safely and away from their kids is huge.

“New gun owners may be a little bit more complacent about this stuff,” Forum said. “So especially now with all of those brand-new owners who entered the market, it’s really up to us to educate them.”

Under Florida Statutes, a person who stores or leaves a loaded gun in a place where a minor is likely to access it without their parent’s permission or without supervision could face a second-degree misdemeanor if the gun is not secured.

“You are instructed to put the gun in a safe place, hopefully in a locked, secure container or with some type of a trigger-guard mechanism, a trigger lock,” explained Attorney Lance Dunford with the Law Firm of Scott Moorey.

Dunford told us, in his 10 years as an attorney he’s never come across a case where parents or another adult got charged under this statute. He feels losing a child is often punishment enough.

“That parent and those loved ones will never forgive themselves, and there’s no punishment that the state could impose on them that they themselves are not already doing,” Dunford said.

For that Florida Statute to kick in, the child not only has to gain access to an unsecured gun; they also have to have it in public or use it in a rude, careless, angry or threatening manner for the gun owner to be criminally liable.

Reporter:Breana Ross
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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