CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - On Christmas Day, two-year old Sincere Smith picked up a gun, accidentally shooting and killing himself. Today, the family laid him to rest. However, they are far from burying their grief.
The family is still in shock, devastated and heartbroken. The funeral was full of emotion as over a hundred relatives and friends mourned the loss of such a young child.
Accidental shootings like this are the leading cause of death for children in our country. Sincere Smith's life was lost in one instant, after shooting himself with a gun laying on the table.
Last week, Sincere Smith's pastor shared his memories of the toddler.
"Just a playful little boy. He always wanted to tell you he knew his numbers and he could point out the colors. He was happy. He was always playing. He was actually well cared for, very well cared for. And loved by his father and his mother," remembers Pastor Hamilton.
Today, Pastor Hamilton led the service for the young child.
Relatives and friends were hugging each other, crying and praying together. His father's anguish was audible for everyone to hear.
The story is shocking, and so are the numbers around the country.
A child is killed every 42 hours from an accidental gun shot. That is four times more than an armed police officer killed during the line of duty.
"If a toddler sees a gun laying around, they don't know any better," explains Sgt. Jeff Benton from the Horry County Sheriff's Office.
There are simple steps you need to take now to protect your child's safety.
"Lock the gun up. Use a child-safety lock. Unload the gun," urges Sgt. Benton.
It may sound simple, but it can be the difference between life or death.
"The bottom line is, no one can get hurt if that gun is locked up and unloaded," says Sgt. Benton.
Police say it doesn't matter if an accident like this happens to a child 6 months of 60 years old.They are still someone's child and the loss is always felt, even for the officers responding to the call.
"As police, as law enforcement, it is difficult for us to go to any type of shooting. We want parents to be safe with weapons around their children, we want these weapons locked up," stresses Sgt. Benton.
Sgt. Benton explains that if your child is old enough to know what a gun is, they are old enough to learn gun safety.
For younger toddlers, it is the same as child proofing your house.
"Parents lock up the cabinet under the sink for a reason. Because we don't want our children to get into bleach, into harmful chemicals. It's the same thing. If you lock up the bleach, you should be locking up your gun," says Sgt. Benton.
The Horry County Sheriff's Office has child-proof locks available for your guns, for free. You can contact Sgt. Jeff Benton at 843-915-8578.