HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK) – Following the tragic death of a 3-year-old who shot himself, police are once again encouraging parents to keep firearms far away from children.

Gun safety instructors say if a gun is in reach of a child it automatically puts them in a dangerous position. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent this from ever happening.

Unfortunately, there are cases where a child gets their hands on this dangerous item and tragically loses their life. Law enforcement officials say when they respond to a scene like this, it’s heartbreaking.

When I walked up that driveway that little toy in the driveway just about tore me up when I saw that it’s just… it just doesn’t seem real sometimes these things.

Keith Wood, Meigs County Sheriff

I spoke with firearm safety instructor Jim Wilcox and he says owning a gun around small children is a huge responsibility. He encourages gun owners to remember the four rules of gun safety:

  • Treat every gun as if it is loaded.
  • Never point the firearm at anyone or anything you don’t want to destroy.
  • Remember trigger finger discipline. This means only placing your finger on the trigger when you are ready to fire.
  • Knowing what your target is and being aware of the surroundings if something were to go wrong.

When it comes to younger children, Wilcox says it’s best to keep the guns locked up.

I always recommend gun owners have a dedicated safe for handguns and long guns.

Jim Wilcox, Firearm Safety Instructor

Law enforcement officials are echoing this same advice in an effort to avoid a possible tragedy in the future.