Boy finds gun & shoots mom months after voters OK new safety law

A Washington state mother was seriously injured when she was shot in the face at around 5 p.m., Saturday by her 4-year-old son, who found the loaded gun under a mattress.

The 27-year-old mother, who is eight months pregnant, was rushed to a medical center with life-threatening injuries.

Investigators believe the boy’s father put the gun under the mattress, where the child found it, because he was afraid of crime in the neighborhood, according to a spokeperson for the King County Sheriff’s Office.

The boy will definitely not face charges for the shooting, but it’s possible his father could be indicted due to the new law passed by Washington state voters in November.

The shooting comes a few months after Washington state voters approved a measure raising the minimum age to purchase a gun to 21, adding background checks, increasing waiting periods, and enacting new storage requirements that allow criminal charges to be filed against someone who fails to secure a gun that is used in a shooting.

That law includes a safe storage provision, which punishes gun owners who do not secure firearms. The law allows prosecutors to charge violators with “community endangerment” if a child or other unauthorized person uses a gun that was not secured.

The initiative creates gross-misdemeanor and felony classes of a new crime, “community endangerment.”

It doesn’t mandate that firearms owners lock their guns away. But owners could be charged under those community-endangerment crimes if someone not allowed to access a firearm — such as a child or a felon — gets ahold of it and displays it publicly, causes it to discharge or uses it in a crime.

Owners who keep a gun secured in a safe or lock box, or with a trigger lock or similar device, would not be subject to charges if the firearm is somehow accessed by someone who shouldn’t have it.

At least 16 states have some kind of criminal liability for a gun owner if a firearm is improperly stored and a child uses or carries it. Eleven states have laws that either encourage or require trigger-lock or secure storage devices for guns.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) has filed a lawsuit against the state of Washington in U.S. District Court, arguing that the measure violates the right to bear arms.

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