A 7-year-old boy died on Saturday when he was shot by his father in an apparent accident outside a Mercer County gun shop, state police said.
Joseph V. Loughrey, 44, was getting into his truck holding a .9mm Taurus handgun when it discharged. The bullet struck his son, Craig Allen Loughrey, 7, in the chest, state police said. The boy died at the scene.
Sadly these stories have become all too common. Even sadder is how a little responsibility and common sense could have prevented it:
State police said Loughrey told them he had emptied the magazine of the gun, but had no idea a bullet was still in the chamber.
“This happens all too often where people think the gun was empty,” said state police Lt. Eric Hermick.
"I didn't know there was a bullet in there" is about as poor of a defense as "I didn't think I was too drunk to drive". It's an irresponsible defense that should be met with punishment.
Now some may say that the loss of this man's son is punishment enough, but is it? If a father gets behind the wheel after a few beers with his child in the car and crashes, killing that child, that father is still charged, so why isn't the father in this case?
I should mention that no decisions have been made on rather or not Loughrey will be charged, but generally they end up not facing a judge in these cases.
Now I have said time and time again I do believe in our second amendment rights. I also believe we should enjoy those rights with some restrictions and common sense. We don't need high capacity magazines or assault weapons to protect our homes, nor do we need dozens of guns. What we do need is new regulation.
One good form of regulation would be a mandatory gun safety course. When a person decides to first buy a gun, then they have to attend this class. They learn things like proper handling and how to insure that their weapon is empty. It can be done in a couple of hours and wouldn't be a big burden on any person.
Also make it so that the class is recurring. Once you have a certificate of completion, you can buy your guns for the next 5 or so years. After that, if you decide to buy another one then you must retake the class, more or less as a refresher. This would help maintain our second amendment rights, as well as adding a little extra safety into it.
And this isn't meant to hurt gun owners, but rather help them. We are seeing more and more stories like this and it will get to a point where we say "enough is enough". Once that happens, then we will see gun control that many will despise. It's a give and take situation and I feel this is a great starting point.