Parents Could Face Charges After Child Shoots Herself in Leg

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  A four-year-old girl is recovering after accidentally shooting herself in the leg with her parents' handgun.

According to police, on Thursday night the girl was playing unsupervised in her home in the 2900 block of Dean Avenue. Officials say she found her parents' handgun case under their bed, dragged it to her room, opened it, and shot herself in the leg.

Police are now investigating the parents for negligence, and they could face charges.

“If it's predictable, it's preventable. And something like this is clearly predictable, if a four year-old can access a firearm. It's incumbent upon the parents and all responsible gun owners to keep guns out of our children's hands,” said Des Moines Police spokesman Paul Parizek.

Zac Fox owns Fox Shooting Sports and specializes in gun safety and training. He says it's critical to store guns safely, especially around young children.

“You have to understand, kids are smart. They will figure things out faster than most of us can figure things out,” he said.

As the father of a-five year-old, he makes it a point to lock things down wherever he stores his guns. Fox has guns stored in a tough box with a TSA-approved combination lock, and a handgun in his bedroom, stored in a lockbox that has its key hidden. He says he also teaches his children that if they see a gun lying around their house to first not touch it, and second tell an adult.

Fox says that while many people want firearms to protect their family from outside threats, what you do with a gun inside the home is just as important.

“What happens is they think they're trying to protect the ones that they love, and if you don’t store it correctly, it can hurt the ones that you love."

Officials say the girl’s injuries are non-life-threatening.