INDIANAPOLIS — For at least the third time since 2016, a Central Indiana child has died in an accidental shooting because a gun was left unsecured.
Two-year-old Anthony Jones, of Indianapolis, died Thursday morning in the 7600 block of North Kitchen Road in Morgan County. According to investigators, the child's mother said he found her unsecured handgun, which accidentally discharged, striking and killing him.
In December 2016, a five-year-old girl was accidentally shot and killed by her three-year-old brother, and in June 2017, a nine-year-old boy shot and killed another child while playing with an unsecured gun.
Marion County Sheriff Kerry Forestal said Thursday's incident should serve as another tragic reminder of how important it is to practice gun safety.
"Just in a moment, we know a child can pick up a gun," Forestal said. "They don't know if it is real or not. You can't be shot with a gun that has been unloaded or locked."
The sheriff's department provides free gun locks for anyone who asks for one. Libraries and Riley Children's Hospital also provide free gun locks. Forestal said his office gives out about 500 free locks each year.
"What we don't know is how many lives that may have been saved," Forestal said. "Did somebody pick up that gun and couldn't fire it because they had it that way?"
Gun safety talks are also happening at the Statehouse as some say legislation requiring locks could be another step to keeping kids safe.
"I think it is just a very basic fundamental view on legislation is just requiring gun owners to lock it up and if they don't, perhaps there might be a penalty for that," State Sen. J.D. Ford said. "We've done it in the past. It has been introduced in the legislature. Unfortunately, it's never gone anywhere."
Ford asks that people call their local representatives and start a conversation before another unsecured gun ends up in the wrong hands.
"In my opinion, this is a situation that could have been prevented," Ford said.