KENTWOOD, Mich. (WOOD) – The owner of the gun a toddler found and fired at his mother says the incident was “a total accident.”
Jacob Hanson, 28, is a married father of two young boys and a gun owner who likes to drive around with his gun in the car.
Hanson’s 3-year-old son allegedly grabbed the 9mm subcompact handgun out of the driver’s side compartment car and squeezed off a shot that hit his mother in the back of the head, according to police.
The father reportedly told police that the gun jammed before another shot could be fired.
The incident happened in the middle of the day on Feb. 20 at the family’s home near East Paris Avenue and 60th Street SE.
According to the Kentwood police report obtained by 24 Hour News 8, Hanson said he often travels with pistol in the car, but secures the weapon in a holster before placing it in a gun safe along with several other weapons.
However, Hanson told police on Feb. 20 he was in a hurry to visit neighbors who were planning to sell their home and in his haste, he left his gun in the Chevrolet Traverse, the report states.
Michele Hanson was spending her Saturday cleaning the SUV with her young son when the toddler discovered the gun and pulled the trigger.
She told police she thought something had fallen and hit her in the head, according to the report. The 26-year-old mother said she looked up, saw her child holding the gun and began screaming.
Neighbors heard the shot and the screams and ran to the home where they tell police they saw the mom lying in the driveway bleeding as Jacob Hanson unloaded the weapon and threw it aside.
Michele Hanson was not seriously injured and her husband said she was back working within a few days.
He did not want to speak on the record with 24 Hour News 8 Friday.
Chief Assistant Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker confirmed that Hanson had the proper permits for his gun and he said he determined no laws were broken.
Kent County Sheriff Larry Stelma is not against owning guns, but he said the growth of guns in homes presents a danger that cannot be ignored.
“These types of stories occur too frequently where a youngster gets a hold of a firearm, or someone not familiar with a firearm is mishandling it and, unfortunately, the results are usually much more tragic than this incident,” Stelma said Friday. “With a large number of firearms in homes across America – safety, properly securing weapon away from and keeping them out of the hands of children is becoming critical.”
Stelma said the problem is not with the weapon, which can be a useful tool, or the person who sells the gun, but with the gun owner who fails to take the necessary steps to safely secure a weapon.
The U.S. General Accounting Office estimated that 31 percent of accidental deaths caused by firearms might be prevented with the addition of two devices: a child-proof safety lock and a loading indicator.
According to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Center for Injury Research and Prevention, one in three handguns is kept loaded.
The Center reported 73 percent of children younger than age 10 know where parents keep firearms and 36 percent admitted handling the weapons, despite parent reports.