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Who Gives A Three-Year-Old A .22 Rifle For Christmas?

September 29, 2013

Does this mean for a fifth birthday someone gets a bottle of gin and a prostitute?  What is wrong with our country?

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Lucas Heagren with his father, Joshua, on Christmas 2011, holding a .22 rifle that was a present. The photograph was evidence in Mr. Heagren’s negligent homicide trial after Lucas shot himself.

Lucas’s father, Joshua Heagren, had tried to teach the 3-year-old to respect firearms. The boy had gotten a .22 rifle for Christmas, and his father showed him how to fire it. But he also warned him to handle it only when an adult was present.

“He never even attempted to touch guns when Josh wasn’t around,” Lucas’s mother, Kaitlin Campbell, testified at Mr. Heagren’s trial, where he was convicted of negligent homicide and endangering children. “He knew.”

On the day of the accident, Mr. Heagren had been planning to go out shooting, so he took his pistol from the bedroom, where he normally kept it in a holster between the mattress and the box spring, according to his court testimony. When Ms. Campbell and Lucas returned from buying an inflatable swimming pool, Mr. Heagren slid his gun under the couch before heading outside to set up the pool.

At some point, with his mother distracted by her phone a few steps away, Lucas discovered the gun, grabbed the butt and squeezed the trigger with his thumbs, according to the authorities.

“Our thought process was, parents have a duty to keep their child safe,” said Dr. Lisa Kohler, the Summit County medical examiner, whose office classified the case as a homicide. “Leaving a loaded weapon in an area where the child can easily access it is neglect in our mind. Therefore parents have failed to keep a child safe, and therefore it’s a homicide.”

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