A California woman was hospitalized Wednesday after being shot by her own son in a preschool parking lot, in just the latest incident of what gun safety advocates call “family fire.” Deputies from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office were summoned to the Ramona Preschool in Norwalk, a city of about 100,000 just southeast of Los Angeles, for a completely preventable call.
“It appears to be an accident with the young kid pulling the trigger of the shotgun in the backseat of his own car and striking his mother,” Deputy Marvin Crowder told KABC’s Josh Haskell. The accidental shooter, who is under the age of five, was in the backseat of the car with other children.
The mother is currently listed in fair condition, and her children have been placed in the custody of L.A. County’s Department of Children and Family Services. Since transporting a loaded gun in a car is illegal in California, criminal charges likely await the unnamed mother upon release from the hospital.
Sadly, the unsafe and careless storage of firearms is tragically common, as are the disastrous consequences that often follow. In August, the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and the Ad Council launched an initiative to #EndFamilyFire, with a bone-chilling PSA that shows just how easily young children can find their way to improperly stored guns and ammunition in the home.
That was when the phrase “family fire” was introduced into the world.
The organizations today are introducing a new term: “family fire,” aimed at preventing shootings that result from improperly stored weapons or misuse of firearms in households.
The idea for “family fire” takes inspiration from now familiar terms that have helped to address other epidemics in our country: secondhand smoke, designated driver, friendly fire. “Our goal is to make ‘family fire’ a part of the vernacular in an attempt to change behavior and save lives,” says Lisa Sherman, president and CEO of the Ad Council.
I vowed then, and entreated others who cover gun violence and gun reform here, to start utilizing the term and help push it into the vernacular, so that we, as a society, could start actively working to end this particular segment of deadly gun violence.
Admittedly, the Norwalk incident happened in a car, not a home, but the factors are the same: A loaded firearm—a shotgun, no less—was improperly stored where a child could access it, and a shooting then followed.
Authorities are still investigating how in the world a loaded shotgun ended up in the backseat of a car being used to transport small children, but one indisputable fact is that careless gun ownership has already devastated this family, and left a community terrified.