Case of 5-year-old with gun under review

The case of a 5-year-old Hoquiam boy who fired a loaded gun he found in his home June 1 is under review by the Hoquiam City Attorney, but charges are still uncertain.

“Apparently the gun was left loaded on a shelf in the living room,” Hoquiam Police Chief Jeff Myers said. “The child used a chair to reach it. It was not locked or secured. However, there is not a specific state statute which requires a firearm to be secured. In fact, prosecution for similar incidents where someone was actually hurt have not been successful.”

In the Hoquiam case, the boy allegedly shot a .38 special revolver at a 21-year-old Aberdeen man who was walking in the 700 block of L Street in Hoquiam.

“The victim watched the boy point the gun at the other children before the boy pointed it at the victim, who was now about half a block away. The boy discharged the gun once in the direction of the victim, at which point the victim realized the pistol was a real gun,” Myers said.

Myers mentioned the 2012 case of a Marysville Police Department officer charged with manslaughter after his 3-year-old son shot and killed his 5-year-old daughter with a gun the officer had left unsecured in the family’s van. A jury could not reach a verdict on the charge, and the officer was re-instated with the department earlier this year.

City Attorney Steve Johnson said he’s reviewing all relevant statutes, but so far is mostly finding failed attempts to require gun owners to secure their weapons. A 1999 bill would have made it reckless endangerment to leave a gun in a location where a person knows or should reasonably know a child could gain access to it.

“For some reason that bill didn’t pass, it didn’t go anywhere,” Johnson said. “They obviously recognized that there was a problem, but I was hoping to find a law that would fit it like a glove. I’m not finding one.”

Johnson said a decision may be made as early as next week.


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