A Toddler Shoots & Kills His Older Brother -- Could It Happen in My House?

kids and guns
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Before my husband and I agreed to buy a gun to protect our home, we had to do some major soul-searching on what it would mean for our family -- including our boys, who are now 3 and 1½ -- and for our kids' friends who would come to our home for future playdates and celebrations. As much as we pride ourselves on safety, a part of me always worries if an oversight would put my children or their friends in harm's way, possibly ending in tragedy. My heart skips a beat every time I think about Wendy Lavarnia's 2-year-old son, who accidentally shot and killed his 9-year-old brother, Landen, as he played a video game, and it makes me wonder whether or not something like this could happen in my home -- or to one of my children at a friend's house.

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WCMH-TV Columbus reports Wendy Lavarnia, a mom of four, left her loaded gun on her bed within arm's reach of her 2- and 4-year-old children. Although Lavarnia likely thought she had enough reaction time to turn and grab her holster, sadly, it only took an instant for her 2-year-old son to grab the gun and shoot her 9-year-old in the head. He later died on life support. 

... And just like that, a family is changed forever.

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The mom, who admits to police she allowed her 2-year-old "to practice pulling the trigger of this gun when empty on previous occasions," was booked on four counts of child abuse. And in a surprising turn of events, police also arrested Kansas Lavarnia, the children's father, shortly after he came home -- because there's not supposed to be a gun in the family home due to Kansas's previous theft conviction.

Wow.

To think about Landen, a 9-year-old boy who will never get the chance to realize his dreams or embark on this journey called life, is crippling. Though his horrifying death was not intentional, it forces me to pause and reflect on my own actions in my home. 

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While I'll never be able to fully comprehend leaving a loaded gun so close and accessible to children, I try to picture myself in situations like this as a mother and gun owner. I certainly don't profess to be perfect or having the holy parenting grail in my grasp, but when it comes to my children's safety -- knowing how curious they can be -- I do my best to protect them. That means storing the gun in a safe they can't access, that's out of reach. 

I truly hope that fellow moms and dads who own guns are doing the same.

Thinking about this devastating loss is so eye-opening, because you can never truly know what kind of gun safety people are practicing in their home -- the very place that will become one of many destinations your son or daughter could visit during their childhood. Because of this, I have no problem asking other parents whether or not they have a weapon in the house and how they keep said weapon locked up and stored away from children.

I would expect the same questions from other parents -- and would have no problem answering them to make another mother or father feel more assured their child will be safe in my home.

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A child dies every other day due to an accidental shooting involving a minor, and that is one child too many. Sadly, there's nothing we can do to bring back this 9-year-old boy, but we can take more steps to protect our children so they don't leave this earth too soon or become another statistic.

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