Call for better gun safety education after Chicago boy’s


No charges have been filed against a 32-year-old Gary man whose gun may have fallen into the hands of a 5-year-old Chicago boy, but the child’s death hasn’t been ruled an accident.

Gary Police spokesman Cmdr. Sam Roberts said in an email Thursday that police are still investigating the shooting that killed the boy Aug. 30. Meanwhile, city dignitaries are calling for better gun safety education.

“It is with deep sadness that we mourn the tragic loss of a five-year-old child due to a self-inflicted gunshot wound,” Gary Mayor Jerome Prince said in a release Thursday. “This incident is shocking and heartbreaking, and it serves as a painful reminder of the urgent need for responsible gun ownership and safety measures to protect our most vulnerable. We must come together, no matter what our differences, to promote comprehensive gun safety education and enforce stringent safeguards to prevent such devastating accidents from occurring in the future.”

State Rep. Ragen Hatcher, D-3, also offered her thoughts, saying she recognized “nothing will ease the suffering caused by this accidental shooting.”

“Yet again, we are reminded of the harrowing fact that this tragedy was preventable,” she said in a release. “This young child had his future stolen by an unsecured firearm in his home.”

State Rep. Ragen Hatcher, D-Gary, pictured on Thursday, June 1, 2023. (Kyle Telechan for the Post-Tribune)

Hatcher added that Statehouse Republicans in 2022 removed permitting requirements for gun owners, meaning anyone over 18 can legally purchase a handgun and carry it in public without a background check or safety training.

“How many more children must die at the hands of firearms before we realize that making guns easier to obtain is not an effective solution, but actively makes our state less safe for residents, including children?” Hatcher said. “The incident … is yet another tragedy in a distressing saga of accidental shootings involving kids that we have seen skyrocket this year. According to Every Town for Gun Safety, there have been 20 unintentional shootings by children in Indiana this year, 6 of them resulting in fatalities. Enough is enough.

“It is time for Indiana to pass common-sense safe storage legislation that requires gun owners to properly store their firearms and prevent children from gaining access to them … In the absence of legislation, I want to remind all gun owners in House District 3 and beyond to take simple measures to securely store your firearms. For more information on how to properly secure your gun, please visit Everytown for Gun Safety’s website.”

Roberts said in an email Wednesday that the child was visiting relatives in the 2400 block of Filmore Street. A 32-year-old man who police detained at the scene told them he’d returned with the homeowners’ permission to the house early Wednesday to check on the boy and a 17-year-old girl, also from Chicago.

When he came in, he said he took his handgun off his person before falling asleep, Roberts said.

Around 8 a.m., the man said he was awakened by a loud noise and found the boy shot, Roberts said. The witness told police he then drove the boy to the hospital, where he died of his injuries.

Gary Police are working with the Lake County Prosecutor’s Homicide Unit and are asking for anyone with information about this incident to please contact (219) 755-3855.

Michelle L. Quinn is a freelance reporter for the Post-Tribune.

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