http://www.digitaljournal.com/news/crime/police-new-jersey-mom-charged-after-boy-12-shoots-sister/article/415358

Police: New Jersey Mom charged after boy, 12, shoots sister

Posted Nov 17, 2014 by Megan Hamilton
The mother of a nine-year-old girl who was shot and critically wounded by her brother has been charged with allegedly endangering the welfare of a child and unlawful possession of a weapon, police say.
A trigger of a gun
A trigger of a gun
Nick Kidd
The shooting occurred shortly before noon on Saturday when the girl's brother,12, was playing with an unsecured handgun in the house and shot her in the chest. The girl is in critical, but stable condition at a hospital in Newark, ABC News reports.
Police have not said whether the children's mother, Catrease Thomas, 33, will be charged with with having an unsecured weapon in the house with her kids. In New Jersey, this is a specific offense in which a person is considered guilty if the child gets access to the loaded and unsecured weapon in the adult's home, whether or not anyone is hurt as a result. Firearms dealers in New Jersey are required to notify buyers about this law, NewJersey.com reports.
Thomas was in the shower when her son found a 9MM handgun that was unsecured and accidentally shot his sister, police said. Thomas, accompanied by two young boys, climbed into a police car, ABC News reports.
"The mom is a real nice lady — she stays in the house and takes care of the kids," neighbor Leon Seaborn told ABC News, adding, "She's not in the streets."
"Another child. It's sad that people will allow people to keep guns in their house unprotected," Minister Thomas Ellis, who lives in the neighborhood and runs an anti-gun coalition called "Enough is Enough" told ABC News.
One unnamed source at the scene told ABC News that the gun belongs to Thomas' boyfriend. He wasn't home at the time. It's not known if the gun was legally owned, but neighbors say that the mother is usually very watchful over her kids.
"She was a good person, and I hate to see that happened to her and the kids," Seaborn said.
Ellis said he hopes someone will own up and take responsibility for the gun.
"The City, the Police Department, the residents, we are all outraged that this senseless shooting has occurred, an incident that could have easily been avoided but for the carelessness of two adults," Newark Police Director Eugene Venable said in a statement, The Los Angeles Times reported. "We have a 9-year-old clinging to her life as a result of that carelessness."
Accidental shootings killed nearly 3,800 people in the U.S. between 2005-2010, the organization New Yorkers Against Gun Violence (NYAGV) reported. Out of that number, more than one-third of the victims were younger than 25.
The organization also found:
• People in every age group are significantly more likely to die from accidental firearm injuries if they live in states that have more guns, compared to states that have less guns, NYAGV noted.
• In high gun ownership states, the mortality rate for kids is 14 times higher than states which have low gun ownership rates. For infants and toddlers up to age four, the mortality rate is 17 times higher in states with high gun ownership rates than in states with low rates of gun ownership.
• States that have the highest gun ownership levels had, on average,nine times the rate of unintentional firearms deaths, compared to states with the lowest gun ownership levels.
• The federal government conducted a study on unintentional shootings and found that 8 percent of such shooting deaths were due to shots fired by children under age six.
In the U.S., 28 states, including New Jersey, have specific laws that punish adults if kids can access their guns, the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence reported, per NewJersey.com. People in New Jersey who break this law can be subject to fines of as much as $1,000 and six months in jail.
In the past several months some states have tightened their gun laws. In California, for instance, a person can be found guilty of giving a child access to firearms even if the kid never touches the gun, per New Jersey.com.
For people who do own guns, the best way to keep kids safe is to add these two devices: A child-proof safety lock, and a loading indicator, NYAGV reports.