‘Just One Of Those Things’ Is A Horrific Thing To Say About A 2-Year-Old Who Shot Himself
This is a brand new story, but you’ve read it before. A small child. A loaded, unsecured handgun. A family that law enforcement says has suffered enough already. A tragedy, nothing to be done, just one of those things. Or at least that’s the narrative some people would like to sell – but I’m not buying it.
Raw Story reports that Kaleb Ahles, a Florida two-year-old, died yesterday, after discovering his father’s loaded, unlocked handgun in the glove compartment of the family car. He shot himself in the chest, and despite getting CPR from his aunt until paramedics arrived, he died in the hospital hours after the shooting. This is a terribly sad, haunting story, and my heart is broken for this poor little boy. But one thing that is not true of this story is that it was unpreventable – despite what local sheriff Bob Gualtieri had to say about it:
“It’s just one of those things that happens where everything lined up the wrong way where we had a 2 1/2-year-old that was able to take a gun, pick it up, turn it around, and he shot himself dead center in the middle of the chest[.]”
I’m sorry, but a toddler shooting himself to death with a loose handgun is not just ‘one of those things’, and the fact that anyone involved here, let alone an officer of the law, is willing to treat it as such is appalling. ‘Everything’ didn’t have to line up the wrong way – the only thing that had to happen was leaving a loaded handgun within the reach of an inquisitive two-year-old. Evidence suggests that what happened next wasn’t so much of a wild, unforeseeable coincidence as an increasingly common consequence.
The idea that leaving a loaded and unlocked handgun in the glovebox of a car that a toddler is allowed access to climb around in constitutes reasonable precautions staggers me. This is not reasonable. This is foolhardy, irresponsible, and statistically a hell of a lot more dangerous than the possibility your car is going to be hijacked by armed criminals on your way to the grocery store.
I don’t know what I want to happen in cases like these. If the possibility of losing their child to a gunshot wound isn’t enough to deter parents from having unsecured weapons in their home or vehicle, I doubt the threat of jail time would do the trick. But I’m so, so sick: sick of reading this story every single week. And sick of the ‘no one could have seen this coming’ song-and-dance routine that always seems to follow.