Four-Year-Old Shoots Wife of County Deputy

National gun control debate has largely ignored firearm safety issues
April 9, 2013 Updated: April 9, 2013

A four-year-old child shot the wife of Wilson County deputy Daniel Fanning April 6 while at the couples home for a cookout, the Tennessean reported.

The four-year-old picked up a loaded gun from a bed and fired one round, killing Josephine G. Fanning, 48.  Daniel Fanning and a male guest were looking at guns in Daniel Fannings gun case at the time.

“It looks to be a tragic accident. He did not normally have small kids at his house, and his guns were locked prior to coming out. I don’t want the perception that guns were everywhere,” Wilson County Sheriff Robert Bryan, told the Tennessean.

Daniel Fanning, 51, apparently had to remove a handgun from the cabinet in order to access a rifle that he wanted to show his guest.  He placed the loaded handgun on the bed, and in moments the four-year-old entered the room, picked up the gun, and shot Josephine Fanning.

The two had been married only two years.

The handgun fired was Daniel Fannings personal weapon.  Because the accident did not involve a service weapon it is unlikely that Fanning will face disciplinary action.  He has been placed on personal leave and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations has begun an investigation into the case.

“This is a sad case any way you look at it and one that requires a careful investigation,” District Attorney General Tom Thompson told the Tennessean.

Tennessee is a gun-friendly state, and has the sixth highest rates of accidental firearms related deaths in the country, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC).

In the recent national conversation around gun control issues following horrific killing such as the one in Newtown, Conn., much has been said about limiting access to firearms, but proper storage, and safe use of legally owned firearms has not been frequently discussed.  According to the CDC 31,672, people were killed by firearms in 2010, the last year for which complete data is available.

The Tennessean reported that from 1999 to 2010, 427 people were accidentally killed by firearms in Tennessee and 8,700 nation wide.