Three-year-old Alexis Mercer died at a LeBleu Settlement hospital in Louisiana on Monday night after she shot herself with a loaded gun she found in the living room. According to Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso, young Alexis' father left loaded guns in the living room after cleaning his firearms earlier in the day. When his wife came home with their three children, ranging in age from 1 to 3, 3-year-old Alexis accidentally fired one of the loaded weapons.
This story is heartbreaking but all too familiar. Sheriff Mancuso called the accident easily avoidable. He said, "Lock your guns, and keep them out of reach of children. They can't do it on their own. They're curious. They're going to go look. They're going to show a friend. If you can't afford a gun safe, every single gun that's sold in America comes with a gun lock."
Thankfully, the other young children weren't injured, but there aren't many bright spots in this story. Kim Myers, the sheriff's office spokeswoman, confirmed that Mercer left out assorted weapons, including two handguns and a rifle. Alexis most likely used a handgun in the accident. According to Myers, the family's case will be turned over to the district attorney following a police investigation to determine if charges should be filed.
This accident is simply horrifying and is one of the reasons I don't feel comfortable with firearms in my home. It would be unfair to say that this father was malicious — he was simply careless. His carelessness cost him his child, and he will be paying for it for the rest of his life, both emotionally and with potential legal repercussions.
Alexis' great-grandmother Lillian Hargrave commented on the original KPLC news story, "I am the great-grandmother of this child. Please do not pass judgments on these parents. They would never harm their children. Please know the facts before you pass judgment."
Shawna Saucier, family friend and Walmart Customer Service Manager, adds, "How dare anyone judge them! I have known the mother practically my whole life, and she is a wonderful mother. Put yourself in their shoes and think how you would feel if this was your child. It could have happened to anyone!"
Saucier's heart is in the right place, but I disagree that this could happen to anyone. While there's no need to judge random, irresponsible parents that we hear about on the internet, we can gain a critical lesson in gun safety. Take the right precautions, store guns safely and maybe we'll never hear about a tragedy like this again.
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