...had that father been me and had that child been my son or my daughter. The father will have to live with the outcome of his seeming negligence for the rest of his life, without his son, because the boy died. It appalls me to think that people are that careless with firearms. He seemingly broke so many firearms safety rules, in order to have done so, that to me, it is almost unimaginable he had any idea of how to safely handle a gun.
The dad reportedly went to a firearms store in Pennsylvania to try to sell a handgun and a rifle there. The store did not buy the guns and the dad put the rifle back into his truck and was reportedly trying to put the handgun into the center console of the vehicle when it discharged, the bullet striking his 7 year old son, killing him.
So what went wrong? First of all, he brought a loaded gun to a store to sell it or loaded it while in the store. You do, or should, not bring loaded guns anywhere to sell them. If you know anything about firearms and firearms safety you would realize that would not be a good idea from a safety standpoint because it is sure that if someone is going to buy it, or just show an interest in it, they are going to want to handle it and there would be a chance they might handle it unsafely and discharge it (which is apparently exactly what happened, not caused by a potential buyer but the seller himself). Then there is the thing they teach about in hunter safety courses about not climbing over fences or up into tree stands with loaded guns while hunting. You know, the one in which they tell you to unload the gun first, lay it next to the fence so you can reach for it later, climb over the fence, then pull the gun over or under it and only then reload it to continue your hunt. What does that have to do with a dad accidentally shooting his son while the son is in their vehicle. Well, the dad was reportedly climbing into the vehicle and trying to put the gun into the center console at the same time from how it sounds.
"Loughrey put the boy in the passenger seat and loaded the rifle into the truck, state police said. He was attempting to get inside and reached to put the handgun in the center storage console when it fired, they said."
Why he did not place the gun into his belt or into a holster or have it secured in a gun case is beyond me. Why he decided to try to do those two things at once, climb into the truck while also trying to put the gun into the console is also beyond me. Doing more than one thing at one time, especially ones that probably each require use of both of your hands, while holding a firearm, can be disastrous. Trying to jockey your arse into position in your truck while also trying to place your handgun into the truck's console is just asking for trouble and that was the result in this case and sadly that result was fatal.
Of course, there are the more basic rules of firearms safety that were violated. The gun evidently was not treated as if it were loaded. I say that because the father reportedly made a statement to police saying he thought it had been unloaded. "Investigators said Loughrey told them he didn't realize there was a bullet still in the chamber.". The gun evidently also was pointed at something that was not an intended target - that ultimately wound up being his own son (either shot directly or by way of ricochet) and it only had to be pointed that way for a moment. It would also seem that either the father's finger or something else activated the trigger. Let's face it folks, you should never allow anything to press on the trigger unless you are about to shoot the gun or about to activate the trigger for other things such as disassembly of the gun when such is required with certain types of guns or for dry firing and in those instances it had best be pointed in a very safe direction.
I will also point out, that if you are transporting a firearm for sale or show or to simply move it from one place to another (while not actually using it as in carrying in a holster, or while shooting at a range, or walking afield with a gun to hunt or things like that) then the gun should be secured in a gun case and maybe even have a trigger lock on it (especially in the presence of young children if you might be otherwise distracted from the gun and maybe the child can get at it). Putting it into the center console of a vehicle, with your child sitting next to you, is a pretty poor place to put it in my opinion. While the vehicle is moving, the gun could wind up bouncing around in there, pointing this way and that, and almost anything else in the console would have the potential to become a trigger finger that could wind up setting the gun off if loaded. Bear in mind too that a center console is probably within reach of a child sitting next to you. It takes only that very brief moment for a child to open a console and grab the contents. If you think it would not happen with you and your kid then think about how distracting traffic can be. While a parent is distracted by driving, a child can do almost anything for at least a moment or two. When you are armed or otherwise dealing with firearms, you have to be paying attention at virtually every moment.
I am not telling you all of this to bad mouth the dad. I am sure he has already suffered more than imaginable and still has the rest of his life of suffering to go through without me hammering him. So then, why am I writing about it so soon after it happened. Because the precise moment in which it could happen again, to someone else's kid, to your kid or to another loved one, could come at any moment. I am telling you this to make sure you avoid these types of mistakes and avoid unsafe handling and transportation of firearms that could have similar results for you for others in this moment or the next. Sure, we can all make mistakes and have accidents but if just one or two things had gone right at that all decisive moment, when the boy was shot, instead of so many ostensibly getting done wrong, maybe that young boy would still be alive. So, let's try to prevent another one like this happening any time soon.
My heart felt condolences go out to the family, they are in my thoughts and prayers as is their child.
All the best,