On Saturday morning, a Cherry Hill resident shot and killed his 15-year-old friend while playing with a gun in his home. There are few confirmed details. Police will not say how many times the victim was shot, who owns the gun, or who else was present at the time of the shooting, but it was ruled accidental. The shooter, who is 12, will not be charged with murder.

How did this happen? I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard this story with different kids in different towns, and yet somehow people still have not learned. The house in which the shooting occurred was home to 22 guns and a child, a frightening ratio. I won’t argue that people can’t own guns or keep them in their homes, but is it unreasonable to assume that a child who is constantly exposed to so many firearms would be informed about the dangers surrounding them? Because the shooting was so quickly ruled an accident, and because it’s unlikely that the kids involved were uninformed about how a gun works, it seems lack of communication may be to blame as much as the bullet. 

While the death was accidental, the fact remains that the young shooter pointed a gun at his friend and pulled the trigger. Those were not accidental actions, so some information was missing. Did he not know the gun was real? Did he not know it was loaded? Though owning 22 guns while raising a child seems like a bad idea, the law does permit it. If adults choose to raise children in a home full of weapons they have an increased responsibility to ensure those children are made aware of every potential risk and kept safe. The death of the young victim is tragic and made more so by how easily the tragedy could have been prevented.