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Michigan Toddler Accidentally Shot at Gas Station Succumbs

According to police and prosecutors, the 2-year-old kid who inadvertently shot himself after being left alone in a car with an unsecured gun in Lansing, Michigan, has died.

“The Lansing Police Department is saddened to report that the 2-year-old has passed away from his injuries,” Jordan Gulkis, a Lansing Police Department spokesman, stated.

In a statement issued Thursday night, Ingham County Prosecutor John J. Dewane stated that he will evaluate the matter “for any and all criminal charges.”

“No child should have access to a handgun, period,” Dewane said in a statement. “However, due to the widespread proliferation of firearms, guns are all too readily available for children to encounter.”

The incident happened soon after 3 p.m. Tuesday at a Sunoco gas station in Lansing, Mich., police said.

Gulkis earlier stated that a 44-year-old male fled the scene but was later arrested in connection with the case. (The man’s name will not be disclosed until his arraignment, according to Gulkis, and Scott Hughes, a prosecutor’s office spokesperson said that no charges will be filed until at least the end of the weekend.)

Firefighters took the toddler, whose name was not revealed due to his age, to a nearby hospital for treatment, but he died from the gunshot wound Wednesday night.

According to a 2018 survey conducted by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, more than half of all gun owners in the United States do not store their firearms correctly.

According to a recent Michigan gun safety regulation, gun owners must keep weapons “unloaded and locked with a locking device or stored in a locked box or container if it is reasonably known that a minor is or is likely to be present on the premises.”

If they do not, and a youngster obtains the gun, resulting in a fatality, the gun owner faces up to 15 years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine.

But since that law does not take effect until March 2024, according to the county prosecutor, it will not be applicable in this case. That law “will make a difference in the future,” according to Dewane.

She said that their thoughts and prayers are with the child’s family and friends in this tragedy, but of course thoughts and prayers are not enough. They must take action, seek some measure of justice to avoid similar acts from taking more of their community’s kids.

Just days before the two-year-old shot himself, Paul Elam, the Michigan Public Health Institute’s chief strategy officer, wrote an op-ed in the Lansing State Journal arguing that “the cost of gun violence in Lansing is too high to ignore” and that taxpayer money should be spent on preventive gun violence measures rather than “what happens after gunshots are fired.”

When the costs of “crime scene investigations, hospital bills, court costs, and prison” are added up, Elam estimates that stopping “just one fatal shooting” could save taxpayers at least $1.6 million.

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