6-year-old took loaded gun to school for show & tell; parents could be charged

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by Catherine Holland

azfamily.com

Posted on February 28, 2014 at 7:08 AM

Updated Tuesday, Jun 10 at 11:53 AM

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Map: Oasis Elementary School
7841 W. Sweetwater Ave.

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PEORIA, Ariz. -- The parents of a 6-year-old who took a loaded gun to school for show and tell could face charges.

It happened Thursday at Oasis Elementary School at 79th and Sweetwater avenues.

The little boy reportedly kept the gun in his backpack, but told a friend all about it. That friend went to a teacher and the gun was taken from the boy before he could take it out of his backpack and show it to any of the kids.

"We did have a gun that was taken on to a school campus," said Peoria Police Department spokeswoman Amanda Jacinto. "That is a horrible scenario. We're just glad that everybody did act appropriately -- alerted authorities, alerted the teachers -- and this was taken care of. And luckily, nobody was injured."

Principal Gail Miller and Assistant Principal Stephen Balliet sent a letter home to parents to explain what happened. A parent sent a photo of that letter to 3TV.

"In our effort to keep parents fully informed of incidents on our campus, we are writing this letter to notify you that a primary-grade student mistakenly brought a weapon for Show & Tell today," the letter reads. "Oasis Elementary administration quickly confiscated the weapon and contacted the Peoria Police Department. While there was no malicious intent, the student's parents were notified immediately."

Oasis Elementary School has 835 students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

Kids and guns

With the exception of some very specific circumstances, it is illegal for a minor to be in possession of a gun (Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 13-3111). None of the allowed circumstances came into play in Thursday's incident. 

While the child, himself, will not face charges, his parents might.

Police are still trying to determine exactly how the little boy got his hands on the loaded weapon.

While many gun owners are diligent about keeping their weapons safely locked up, there are those who are not.

"A study published in Pediatrics found that nearly 1.7 million children under age 18 live with a loaded and unsecured gun in the house," according to an article on Parents.com. "Unfortunately, research shows that most kids can't resist the lure of handling a gun, even after they've been warned repeatedly not to do so."

In addition to keeping guns unloaded and locked in a gun safe out of kids' reach and sight, safety experts suggest gun owners who have children in their homes -- whether they live there of are simply visiting -- to invest in extra precautions like trigger locks and cable locks.

Dozens of states have child access prevention (CAP) laws, but Arizona is not one of them. CAP laws are designed to sanction adults who allow kids unsupervised access to guns. The strongest CAP laws say adults who "negligently store firearms" are criminally liable should a minor get access to the weapons.

Thursday's incident at Oasis Elementary School had the best possible outcome -- the child never took the gun out of his backpack, the gun did not accidentally discharge while in his backpack and nobody was hurt. The scenario could easily have gone another way -- a potentially tragic way.

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