In May of 2021, 2-year-old boy grabbed a loaded gun off a nearby table and shot both of his parents with one bullet.

Authorities referred to the incident, and the larger gun situation in Maine, as an “absolute crisis.” The boy’s 3-week-old sister was also in the room where the shooting happened, but she suffered no injuries.

The toddler and his parents were taken to a nearby hospital to be evaluated, and all recovered. But the questioned that remained was: Why was the gun out like that in the first place?

 

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The 2-year-old fired the gun once, hitting his mother in the leg and his father in the head. The boy was also hit by the recoil after firing the gun. Maine Representative Vicki Doudera was outraged and saddened by the event.

 

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Representative Doudera sponsored An Act to Amend the Child Endangerment Laws to Include Certain Unauthorized Access to a Loaded Firearm, which is also known as LD 759. The Maine Gun Safety Coalition called on the governor of Maine to immediately pursue passing the act.

 

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Representative Doudera commented, “What happened [Wednesday] is a sad, shocking example of why we need LD 759. Children are curious, and this legislation sends the message that it is not okay to leave a loaded firearm where a kid might get it. I hope that my fellow legislators will support this critically important child safety measure which we have seen time and again is needed in our state.”

 

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While Maine has the 17th lowest gun rate in the country, the state has seen an increase in both suicides and homicides perpetrated by people using guns. The gun death rate in Maine has increased by 45% in the last 10 years.

 

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Legislators in Maine began debating several new gun laws and regulations for the state. Geoff Bickford, executive director of the Maine Gun Safety Coalition, hoped to pass laws that would ban bump stocks and close loopholes in background checks needed to buy guns in the first place.

 

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He said that the laws just make sense: “If you bought a gun at a gun show or do an advertised sale, you’d have to go to a federally licensed firearm dealer to get a background check.”

 

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In January 2021, another child also gained access to a gun and shot this 2-year-old sibling in the head. The child reportedly found the gun in a “secured closet” and was able to load it before firing.

In September of 2021, the law did change. Maine’s law now includes a provision to the child endangerment law. It’s now undeniably clear that parents have a responsibility to keep their guns away from their children, and if a child gains access to the gun and causes harm, the parents will be held responsible.

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