LITTLE ROCK, Ark — Little Rock Police Department said over the past year they've had a few incidents involving children attaining access to a firearm. There have been two accidental shootings involving minors within two weeks of each other this month.
Police say a 2-year-old accidentally shot herself in the head on Dec. 10.
As a result of their investigation, the child's father was charged with negligent homicide and simultaneous possession of a firearm and drugs.
This past weekend, an 18-year-old was shot and killed by a juvenile. As a result of a police investigation, homicide detectives determined this was an accidental shooting.
The minor was charged with manslaughter, tampering with evidence, and possession of a handgun by a minor.
“Gun safety is very important. Obviously, if you own a weapon, you have a responsibility to secure it properly. And keep it away from anyone that may accidentally get the weapon," said Eric Barnes, an officer with the department.
He said that accidental shootings can be prevented and encourages anyone with a weapon in their home to lock them away. He also encourages education with children about the issue.
"Talking to them to tell them that it's off-limits. Children are very inquisitive so even if we've had those discussions, it's still good to lock weapons in a safe or have other safety measures in place," Barnes said.
The department partnered with Project Child Safe in 2019 where they provide free gun locks to the public.
They've requested more locks now, and people can pick them up from any police station throughout the city. Barnes also said a lot of locks aren't expensive.
Damon Cleghorn is the range manager at Don's Machinery and he agrees with Little Rock police that gun safety should be important for every owner.
He also wants to add that firearm instruction and education need to be utilized.
“Having training is probably the most important thing when it comes to owning a firearm. Owning a firearm is great, but owning a firearm will not save your life," said Cleghorn.
He said knowing how to use, deploy, and be safe with a firearm is the most important skill when it comes to owning one.
He strongly recommends proper training before ever picking up a gun.
Corey Valentine is a local instructor who uses Cleghorn's range for his students.
He says there's been an influx of gun owners for 2020. Since children are home now more than ever because of the virus, he encourages investing in actual locks or safes for weapons as well.
"Ammo is already expensive, so I understand [parents trying to] hide guns under the bed or in the closets thinking that children won't find them there, when children are the masters of safe places and hiding spots," said Valentine.
He says miseducation and a lack of accessories for the weapon is a big reason accidental shootings occur.
"For example, you need a holster. That's why you see so many videos on the internet of people shooting themselves in the leg or foot when they're carrying it around on their waist."
Valentine wants to educate people as best as he can when they seek him for instruction and says that for new gun owners, the best thing you can do is get instructed.