A national organization is using the National Night Out Tuesday evening to call for firearm owners to keep guns secure and out of the hands of children.
Everytown for Gun Safety, an organization sponsored former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, plans to partner with police and community advocates across the country as part of a “Be Smart” campaign to prevent unintentional shootings by children.
Spokesmen for the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office and the Fresno Police Department said their agencies would have no direct involvement with the campaign Tuesday night, although police spokesman Mark Hudson said the effort “sounded like a good thing.”
The organization reported that so far in 2017, there have been at least 159 unintentional shootings by children nationwide, resulting in 100 injuries and 62 deaths.
The central San Joaquin Valley experienced several high-profile cases in recent years involving children injured after someone under 18 gained access to a firearm.
In February, a Chowchilla correctional officer was charged with manslaughter in the death of her 1-year-old son after he was fatally shot by the 3-year-old sister.
Erica Bautista, a 16-year veteran officer, also is alleged to have “willfully and unlawfully” kept a loaded firearm where she knew or “should have known that a child was likely to gain access to the firearm,” Madera County District Attorney David Linn said in a news release. The boy was shot Jan. 11 at a home in the 100 block of Alameda Avenue and died en route to the hospital, police reported.
In 2012, Jarred Dubois was convicted of a felony charge of criminal storage of a firearm after 6-year-old Emily Lavender was killed in northeast Fresno. Police said Dubois left a loaded gun under his bed that Dubois’ 2-year-old son found and fired.
California law states that anyone who keeps a loaded firearm under their custody or control and knows that a child is likely to gain access to it may be guilty of a felony if a child gains access and injures or kills anyone, including themselves, unless the firearm is secured.
Methods of securing the firearm include large and small gun safes and locks which render the weapon inoperable.