HAYDEN, Idaho — A 2-year-old boy accidentally shot and killed his mother after he reached into her purse at a northern Idaho Wal-Mart and her concealed gun fired, authorities said Tuesday.
The 29-year-old woman was shopping with her son and three other children, Kootenai County sheriff’s spokesman Stu Miller told The Associated Press. Her family had come to the area to visit relatives, he said.
The woman, whose identity was not released, had a concealed weapons permit. Miller said the young boy was left in a shopping cart, reached into the victim’s purse and grabbed a small-caliber handgun, which discharged one time.
Deputies who responded to the Wal-Mart found her dead, the sheriff’s office said.
“It appears to be a pretty tragic accident,” Miller said.
The woman’s husband was not in the store when the shooting happened at about 10:20 a.m. Miller said the man arrived shortly after the shooting. All the children were taken to a relative’s house.
The shooting occurred in the Wal-Mart in Hayden, Idaho, a town about 40 miles northeast of Spokane, Washington. The store closed and was not expected to reopen until Wednesday morning.
Brooke Buchanan, a spokeswoman for Wal-Mart, said in a statement the shooting was a “very sad and tragic accident.”
“We are working closely with the local sheriff’s department while they investigate what happened,” Buchanan said.
There do not appear to be reliable national statistics about the number of accidental fatalities involving children handling guns.
In neighboring Washington state, a 3-year-old boy was seriously injured in November when he was accidentally shot in the face by a 4-year-old neighbor. The boy was wounded as the children played in a home in Lake Stevens, about 30 miles north of Seattle.
In April, a 2-year-old boy apparently shot and killed his 11-year-old sister while they and their siblings played with a gun inside a Philadelphia home. Authorities said the gun was believed to have been brought into the home by the mother’s boyfriend.
Hayden is a politically conservative town of about 9,000 people just north of Coeur d’Alene, in Idaho’s northern panhandle.
Idaho lawmakers passed legislation earlier this year allowing concealed weapons on the state’s public college and university campuses.
Despite facing opposition from all eight of the state’s university college presidents, lawmakers sided with gun rights advocates who said the law would better uphold the Second Amendment.
Under the law, gun holders are barred from bringing their weapons into dormitories or buildings that hold more than 1,000 people, such as stadiums or concert halls.
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