A 2-year-old Indiana boy fatally shot himself Wednesday evening after discovering a gun in his mother’s purse, authorities said.
The boy retrieved the gun when his mother “momentarily stepped away,” leaving her purse on the kitchen counter, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department said in a news release.
“The grieving mother is cooperating with detectives and after detectives questioned her she was later released,” the release stated. “This incident is being investigated as a death investigation.”
Police who responded to the home Wednesday night found that the 2-year-old had suffered a single gunshot wound and was unresponsive. The boy was taken to a local hospital, but died from the shooting.
It was, police said, an “unfortunate tragedy.”
“Obviously, this is an extremely difficult environment for the first responding officers and EMS personnel,” the department’s news release said, “and should serve as a tragic reminder to all gun owners to think about safety around small children.”
According to the Indianapolis Star, the boy’s mother had a permit for a gun.
So far this year, more than 60 children under the age of 18 have unintentionally shot themselves or another person, according to data from Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun-control advocacy group.
The 2016 tally includes a 4-year-old whose mother had bragged on social media that he “gets jacked up to target shoot.” Hours later, the boy found a gun in the vehicle she was driving and pulled the trigger. The woman was shot in the back; her son wasn’t hurt in the incident.
Following the death in Indianapolis, Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, said in a statement that “this incident is a heartbreaking — yet preventable tragedy. But there are clear solutions to help prevent unintentional shootings, starting with responsible gun ownership.
“This incident reinforces for gun owners and non-gun owners alike that the responsibility falls on adults to ensure the safety of our children by storing guns locked, unloaded and separate from ammunition. Children should never be around unsecured guns, full stop.”
In 2014, The Post’s Mark Berman took a look at how many children have been involved in unintentional shootings across the country.
“We know how many times children die each year as a result of gun deaths,” Jon S. Vernick, co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, said at the time. “We don’t know how many times children pull the trigger and someone dies.”
Vernick said the data is out there, but it has not been pulled together or compiled by anyone.
Agencies that compile statistics regarding shooting deaths told The Post that while they have data on many aspects of shooting deaths, this figure was unavailable. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that there is no nationwide data regarding the age of the person who pulls the trigger in an unintentional shooting. The Justice Department offered a similar response. “We do not have any statistics available regarding this topic,” a statistician with the Bureau of Justice Statistics wrote in an email last week.
After this week’s shooting, authorities in Indianapolis reminded gun owners to take ammunition out of their firearms, store weapons where children cannot reach them, and keep both guns and ammunition under lock and key.