Gun locks, safes can prevent child injuries and deaths - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Gun locks, safes can prevent child injuries and deaths

CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - Neighbors said the three-year-old toddler who shot himself in the face Tuesday, was home Wednesday, and playing in his yard. His father, Jeremy Thomas Varieur, age 32 of Conway, was released from jail on a PR bond, and faces charges of unlawful conduct towards a child. 

The boy’s grandmother said the 3-year-old got a hold of a handgun on the entertainment center and it went off, grazing the side of his face. 

The family said no adults were inside the home at the time. The toddler was taken to the hospital where he got stitches. Neighbors said he was home the next day.

Many viewers expressed outrage that a loaded gun would be left within reach of a child. Gun safety advocates said it's so easy to take the steps to prevent anything like this from happening, from using locks to safes.

"This gun was empty laying on the table, the worst that toddler could have done was picked it up," Robert Battista, owner of 707 Gun Store said. "Worked the action, pulled the trigger snap, and nothing would have happened. There are several ways to make a gun safe, there is only one way to make a gun unsafe, and that is to leave it loaded and unattended."

"If you’re going to own a gun and you have children in your home, it is your responsibility to secure that gun, to lock it where a child cannot access it, and for the ammunition to be locked in a separate location," according to Melissa Bellamy, founder of The Matthew Bellamy Project.

Bellamy understands first-hand the importance of taking simple steps for gun safety.

"One thing we encourage parents to do is ask about unsecured guns where their children visit," Bellamy said. "Because even if you know what’s happening in your home, you don’t know what’s happening where your children may go."

Bellamy's son Matthew died an avoidable death. "Our child was visiting in someone else’s home where there was an unsecured .22. Another child picked it up, and our son was shot and killed." Bellamy now dedicates her life to educating people about gun safety.

Some parents say they want a loaded gun in their home for their protection.

But Bellamy said it doesn't have to make your home unsafe. "There are options for that as well where your children are safe," Bellamy said. "There are single firearm safes that you can access literally within seconds. And so there’s no reason to have a loaded gun in your home that is not locked up to keep children safe."

Also, gun locks are given away free at police departments and gun stores. "We give these away for free, all someone has to do is contact us we mail them out all the time," Bellamy said. 

They're also sold in the box with new guns, "Problem is, gun dealers tells us sometimes people refuse to take them," according to Bellamy. 

Bellamy said the responsibility lies on adults' shoulders. "There's numerous things that have been stolen from our family. Because adults made the choice not to lock up a gun. You can’t put a price on that. There’s no reason to not lock it up. A child’s life is more valuable than..."

The Conway Police Department says it notified Department of Social Service yesterday about the shooting and DSS agents visited the child's hospital.
The agents will make a determination of what needs to happen next.

Related Link:

Father charged after 3-year-old fires gun, injures his own face

Copyright 2015 WMBF News. All rights reserved.

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