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After 6-year-old boy shoots himself in Hazelwood, police weigh charges against gun owner

Stopping accidental shootings involving children
Stopping accidental shootings involving children 03:21

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - A 6-year-old boy who apparently accidentally shot himself in the head is in critical condition at Children's Hospital but Pittsburgh police are trying to identify the gun's owner and decide whether that person should be charged.

The home on Johnston Avenue in Hazelwood has become the scene of yet another tragedy involving a child and a gun, and distraught neighbors believe an adult should be held responsible. 

"The parents need to put their gun up so the kids can't find the gun, so this won't happen again," Andre Frison said. 

But the 6-year-old is the third child in recent months to shoot himself or others with an unsecured gun.

In November, 4-year-old Ajani Lane shot and killed himself in a townhouse on Negley Avenue in Shadyside. No charges have been filed, but police say they found two guns belonging to his father Ronald Steave, who is accused of killing three people in Homewood on New Year's Eve.

In December, police charged Penn Hills couple Thomas Wolfe and Sara Gerwig with reckless endangerment of children after their 13-year-old son shot and killed his 5-year-old brother with what police say was their unattended gun.

"Gun owners should be held responsible for safely storing their guns and the deadly consequence that can flow from that," said Josh Fleitman with CeaseFirePA.

While gun owners can be charged under some statutes, gun control advocates have been lobbying the state legislature to require guns to be secured in homes with safes and trigger locks. 

"If you improperly store your gun and someone was hurt or killed with it, under this legislation that would be a felony," Fleitman said. 

Gun rights advocate Jim Stoker with Gun Owners Against Crime says safes and trigger locks can hinder owners from defending themselves from an intruder 

"The homeowner becomes semi-defenseless, and that becomes the problem, you're revictimizing the victim," Stoker said. 

Stoker says responsible gun owners can protect kids by educating them about gun safety. 

"There's a lot of ways to be responsible with your children. I think that should be left up to the individual citizen," Stoker said. 

The 6-year-old boy shot in Hazelwood lived with his grandmother, but police have not yet determined exactly who owned the gun involved.

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