Young children are impulsive and often incapable of recognizing the dangers of playing with firearms. Despite the consequences of gun-related injuries, not all adults keep their guns out of reach. When parents or adults violate gun safety rules, fail to secure firearms, or neglect to supervise small children, serious injuries and even death can occur.
According to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, the father of a 3-year-old girl who died after she shot herself in the head with a pistol was charged with aggravated manslaughter of a child. The little girl reportedly picked up a loaded gun off a table in their home at the 1200 block of North O Street and pulled the trigger. She suffered a gunshot wound in the head and was flown to Delray Medical Center at around 5:30 p.m. where she was pronounced dead a few hours later.
The child’s father told police that he takes the gun to work because he makes bank deposits, and he left the gun on the table so he would not forget to carry it. He was getting ready for work when he heard a gunshot and discovered his wounded daughter. Under Florida law, guns in the home need to be secured in a locked box or kept readily at hand. Reports said the fatal shooting incident was the third time the child had played with a gun at home.
According to authorities, the criminal charge against the father was warranted because he had received firearms training and knew how to keep his gun safe. In Florida, an adult individual who causes the death of a minor child by culpable negligence can be charged with aggravated manslaughter of a child.
Statistics show that 90 percent of unintentional deaths related to firearms occur in the home, with 40 percent of these fatalities occurring in the residence of a relative or friend. Small children are often too young to know the difference between a real firearm and a toy gun; thus, it’s important to prevent them from gaining access to guns. Florida has enacted laws that hold adults criminally liable if they fail to store their firearms properly and allow young children to have access to them.
Aside from the criminal liability faced by negligent adults who cause gun-related injuries to children, they can also be held civilly liable. With the help of a personal injury attorney, the mother of the child or any other surviving family member may pursue a wrongful death claim against the insurance company of the child’s father in order to obtain compensation for the loss of the loved one.