A 5-year-old girl from New Orleans had to be taken off life support yesterday after her mother allegedly locked her in a room with a loaded gun so she could go to the store. The child shot herself and the mom is now facing second-degree murder charges. And honestly? That seems like a light charge.
What is with all these parents who have loaded guns around children? Is this some kind of stupid fest that I missed? The reality is these kinds of accidents are entirely preventable. It's called don't have a loaded gun around children under 18.
Sure, it's awful that the mom left her 5-year-old to run to the store, but how long was she gone? If she were doing a 10-minute run, she probably thought her plan was perfectly fine. Maybe she forgot there was a gun there. I am sure she (probably) didn't intend to hurt her child. Sadly, there are times negligence is just as criminal as actual physical abuse. This is one of those.
The sad thing is, this kind of thing probably happens every day. I can't imagine she is the only mother in the history of mothers to leave her child alone to run to the store. Five is a weird age where they can seem really mature one minute and almost toddler-like the next. It might be easy to trust a child and think they can handle something they truly cannot.
There are no excuses for this woman. What she did was vile and she may deserve an even harsher punishment than whatever a second-degree murder conviction will hold. But she also probably thinks she did no wrong. In her mind, leaving her baby alone in a room was better than giving her the whole house and she was only going to be gone a few minutes.
Now, why she couldn't take one 5-year-old to the store and deal with it? I guess we will never know. Her circumstances could have been dire. Was she a single mom? Did she have other kids? Did this kid have special needs?
None of these are excuses, mind you. None of these answers will bring back this poor little girl. It was a horrible mistake, one that cost a child her life. But the leaving of the child isn't the worst part. It's the leaving the child with the loaded gun that gets me.
Have we learned absolutely nothing from all the accidental shootings? My heart breaks for this little girl who did nothing wrong and yet paid the ultimate price for her mother's alleged stupidity. Second-degree murder just doesn't seem to bring her justice. Why are we not more outraged as a country?
Do you think this mother should have a greater charge?
Image via Steven Taschuk/Flickr