Saturday, Levelland Police said a 34-year-old man shot a 12-year-old boy in the head. While the shooting is still under investigation, police say it’s possible the shooting was accidental.
The boy was rushed to Covenant Children’s Hospital where the hospital confirmed that he is in fair condition as of Sunday night.
This isn’t the first time in recent months when a child was the accidental victim of gunfire on the South Plains.
In February, a five-year-old Lubbock child was killed, accidentally shot by his father who was cleaning his rifle. In November of 2015, a two-year-old in Lubbock County was also injured after being shot accidentally.
J.D. Clay, the retail manager for Sharp Shooters Gun and Knife in Lubbock, said that is why his business takes extra caution in instructing customers about gun safety.
Clay said that when he works with customers who are new gun owners, he always asks if they have children in their home. If they do, he asks them even more questions about their gun safety plans.
“Well, where do you intend on keeping the firearm? Is it going to stay on your nightstand? Are you going to separate your magazines and the ammo somewhere different?” Clay said.
He added that often, gun accidents boil down to not truly knowing whether a firearm is loaded. He recommends that gun owners establish a system, whether marking firearms as loaded or unloaded, or keeping firearms in a safe, to make sure a loaded firearm isn’t mistaken.
“An unloaded firearm is safe, it’s the safest you can be, you just gotta always chamber check it,” Clay said. “It’s always pulling out that magazine and opening it up, as soon as you’ve done that and you’ve cleared it, it’s about as useful as a brick.”
While Clay spends most of his time working around guns, he said he still thinks about the fact that someone he knew growing up was injured by gun violence in a tragic way.
“It’s things like that instill a sense of safety in the back of our minds when we’re exposed to it and we remember that ‘Oh yeah, chamber check [the gun],’ I remember what happened 10 or 15 years ago,” he said.
Clay also recommended that while checking or cleaning rifles, it’s best to keep weapons pointed in a safe direction, even if you think they are unloaded.
He said accidents are a reminder that gun owners, especially gun owners with children, need to keep a close eye on their weapons.
“To the family and everything else, our hearts go out to them,” Clay said of the family in Levelland. “But fortunately, it could have been a lot worse, they are very fortunate in how it went down.”