Law enforcement and experts urge the importance of gun safety

MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - The tragic accidental death of a local 12-year-old has prompted gun experts to stress the importance of when it comes to firearm safety.

"There has been way too many kids killed with loaded guns, thinking that they're unloaded."

And by unloaded, Ross Belk, the manager of Rock House Gun & Pawn, means a lot of times people don't clear a gun to make sure it can't fire.

"We're humans. Us as humans, we tend to forget a lot," said Belk.

Police say proper gun safety can prevent incidents like Monday's accidental fatal shooting. Belk says simple steps like purchasing a lockbox or a safety trigger lock can be the difference between life and death.

Most lockboxes can range from $20 to $200 or more. Other options include a safety trigger lock. Belk says most guns come with this safety attachment or you can buy one for as cheap as one dollar.

"Even if it's a gun in my showcase here, every time I go to pull one out, I go to check it to make sure that thing is unloaded," said Belk.

Belk understands that this might handicap someone in a high-stress situation, but he says that's the risk you take to keep a firearm out of harm's reach.

"Time is precious. And in a home-invasion situation or high stress situation, it can be real easy to fumble with these keys trying to get into something but that's a risk you have to be willing to take," said Belk.

Belk says the biggest lesson of all starts by educating youth on proper gun safety. He says it's important for children to understand what a gun is used for and the implications of pulling the trigger.

"Every child's different. Every situation is different. But if you can start them off respecting and learning that firearm as soon as possible, it can make a world of difference," said Belk

Investigators are not releasing the name of the 12-year-old at this time.