Yet another “responsible gun owner” — this time in Alabama — is dead because of his own negligence, but you won’t hear the NRA calling for measures that would protect him and people like him from their own negligence.On Wednesday, Divine Vaniah Chambliss may have thought he was taking a nap with his two-year-old son. Instead, the innocent little boy went exploring, as children are wont to do.
Chambliss was found dead from a single gunshot wound at around 3 p.m. when the child’s mother arrived home from work. They say that Chambliss was watching their grandchild while the boy’s mother was working when the child found the unsecured semi-automatic handgun underneath a pillow and pulled the trigger, shooting his father in the head. He says that Chambliss “always” has the gun safety on.
“We’ve talked with the detective, we’ve talked with the coroner and everything is pointing to the baby,” said Larry Chambliss, the child’s grandfather. “I just can’t comprehend it.” He and his wife Marilyn say they hope that their grandson will not remember taking his father’s life, but that the child is certain that something is wrong.
“I hurt my Dad,” Chambliss says the boy told his mother.
Investigators say they have ruled out any other possibilities as to the identity of the shooter:
Police and medics arrived on the scene at 3:11 p.m. and found Chambliss on a bed. He was pronounced dead on the scene at 3:20 p.m.
The toddler and his father were believed to be the only two people home when the incident occurred. The mother of Chambliss’ children was at work, and their daughter was at school. There was no sign of forced entry. Chambliss lived in southwest Birmingham, but authorities said it was common for him to go to the Hoover apartment to keep the children during the day while their mother was at work.
The Jefferson County Coroner’s Office has not yet released its official ruling on the deadly shooting, but family members and police say all evidence leads them to believe it was a tragic accident.
“Detectives have spent the past 24 hours collecting and analyzing evidence, interviewing numerous individuals and constructing a meticulous timeline of events. Detectives have considered every possible scenario in an attempt to determine who shot the victim,” Hoover Police said in a statement Wednesday. “There is still no indication that an intruder or any third person was involved in this incident. Physical evidence has also helped us determine that the victim could not have shot himself. All indications at this point still lead us to believe the child found the loaded handgun and accidentally shot his father.”
Chambliss’ family says that the man always had his trusty gun with him, even in church where he worked “security,” though his parents disapproved of his obsession with carrying the firearm. We did not let our boys play with guns or play cops and robbers, or our grandkids either,” Larry Chambliss said. “They weren’t little gunslingers.”
“It was a bad way for him to go,” Marilyn Chambliss said.
But, Chambliss’ death was God’s will, Larry Chambliss said. “There’s a time for all of us,” he Godsplained. “The footsteps of a good man are ordered by the Lord.”
However, God had nothing to do with this horrific shooting — negligence did, gun culture did. Unfortunately, too many parents are irresponsible with their toys. Last December, a mother lost her life when her two-year-old son reached into her purse — a place where guns should definitely never be stored — and pulled the trigger. It, too, was called a “tragic accident. Earlier this month, a Georgia mom was wounded in another “accident” when her four-year-old son found a loaded handgun in the car and pulled the trigger, thinking the weapon was a toy.
Parents often think that their child “would never” play with a gun, but an ABC report last year showed that, even if kids are ‘properly trained’ in firearm safety as the NRA recommends, children will absolutely play with weapons when they are unattended. Children were placed in a room with a hidden gun. Within minutes, time after time, even after an NRA-approved safety course, every single child plays with the gun. Watch a video that highlights the dangers of believing that guns and children are a good mix:
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.