During just three days, three Tennessee children were unintentionally shot with unsecured firearms.
One was right here in our area... where a 17-year-old in Greene County accidentally shot himself and died.
A rising senior at South Greene high school is dead after accidentally shooting himself.
"He was playing with a shot gun and the gun was loaded. He did what we call putting the shell in it and he ejected it up into the chamber. And it went off and struck him and killed him," the sheriff said.
A tragedy that they say could be prevented, as long as basic firearm safety is used.
"Always keep your fingers of the trigger until you're ready to shoot. Always keep the gun unloaded until you're ready to use it and when you actually go to shoot, know your target and what's beyond it," manager at Shooters Edge, Matt Reimer said. Always keep the gun pointed at a safe direction."
According to the Safe Tennessee Project, three children in Tennessee were unintentionally shot with unsecured firearms in three days this month.
The group says in Memphis last week, an 11-year-old boy and his 12 year-old sister were playing with a loaded gun when he unintentionally shot and injured her.
In Nashville, a 15-year-old boy and some friends were playing with a gun when he accidentally shot himself in the foot.
And on Saturday, the 17-year-old in Greene County unintentionally shot and killed himself.
"He was a avid hunter. Knew guns very well had, several guns in the house," Hankins said. "He was playing with the gun and didn't respect the gun and it had a shell in it."
According to the project, this year alone, there have already been 16 shootings involving children with access to negligently stored guns.
Five resulted in a child's death.
"As children get older, you have to educate the children too. That way if they encounter a gun, they're at a friends house, you always want to teach children about gun safety," Reimer said.
Among the recommendations are proper storage of firearms.
At Shooters edge, they give out free cable locks to prevent the gun from being fired.
But just to be sure, workers there recommend safes.
"Safes are the way to go if you're worried about keeping guns out of the hands of somebody who shouldn't have them," Reimer said.
The biggest takeaway is to always assume the gun you're handling is loaded.
"Whoever gets shot, they always get shot with an unloaded gun. That's the saying. People are going to get their guns out, they're going to clean them and they say 'oh I know I unloaded this before.' Always check," Reimer said.
Sheriff Hankins said this incident hits close to home for him and his deputies.
"I've been in this for 36 years now and he had been in it for 30 and he said it was the hardest call he had ever been to," Hankins said.
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