HEWITT (March 12, 2014) The accidental shooting death of a Nacogdoches child by his cousin in North Texas earlier this week has sent shockwaves throughout the state, once again thrusting gun safety back into the spotlight.
On Monday, 3-year-old Braison Howard was visiting relatives at a home in Eureka for spring break.
At some time during the day, authorities from the Navarro County Sheriff’s Office say Howard wandered outside with his 8-year-old cousin who found a loaded 20-gauge shotgun near a shed, turned towards Howard and pulled the trigger.
Three adults were inside the home at the time of the shooting.
"It's a terrible situation for all parties involved," Navarro County Sheriff Elmer Tanner said.
Police are still investigating the accident, and it’s uncertain at this time if anyone will face any charges.
However, the accident highlights the necessity of keeping firearms in the presence of children inaccessible.
Something Hewitt Police Chief Jim Devlin says any gun owner should always account for in any situation.
“This is a horrible tragedy, and what hurts more is it’s a preventable tragedy,” Devlin said.
“There’s no excuse for not locking up a gun when it’s near a child. It’s a state law, which reads if you own and maintain a weapon in your residence, it cannot be made accessible by a child.”
Accidents like Howard’s are the reason why Hewitt Police offers free gun locks to anyone who needs them.
Right now Hewitt Police has roughly 2,500.
The department gets them through Project ChildSafe, a non-profit organization that’s handed out more than 36 million free gun locks across the U.S. through police agencies since 2003.
"Anybody who comes into the department and asks for a gun lock, we'll give it to them," Devlin said.
"This is the most inexpensive and easy way to secure a firearm that we know of."
Hewitt Police isn’t the only department that offers free gun locks, Belton Police, Copperas Cove Police, the Coryell County Sheriff’s Office, Gatesville Police, Fort Hood Police, the Limestone County Sheriff’s Office, the McLennan County Sheriff’s Office, Lacy Lakeview Police, and La Vega I.S.D. Police all offer the same services
through Project ChildSafe.