WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. - A 4-year-old Pasco County boy was recovering Thursday, the day after he accidentally shot himself at a relative's home in Wesley Chapel.
The Pasco County Sheriff's Office has not released much information, but said the boy somehow got his hands on a weapon in a home on Boulder Run Loop. Neighbors said the homeowner is out of town and family members are house-sitting.
It's unclear where the child found the weapon. He was flown to the hospital, but is expected to survive.
"That was the best outcome of it all. The child's pulling through so that's fantastic," said Carlos Perez, who lives a couple houses away.
Deputies have not yet decided to charge anyone in this case.
The shooting is the latest in a string of incidents like this in Tampa Bay.
In January, a 10-year-old in Clearwater got his hands on a gun after arguing with his mother, then shot and killed himself.
Days later, a 4-year-old in Auburndale accidentally shot himself and also died. And then just weeks after that incident, another 4-year-old in Tampa accidentally shot himself but survived.
Perez, who owns three guns of his own, said these kinds of cases are why he teaches his 7-year-old son about firearm safety.
"I've taken the time to train my child. I've sat him down, I've disassembled the gun in front of him and taught him every little piece," he said. "You've got to keep it fresh in their minds from time to time."
Bruce Kitzis, the general manager at Shooters World in Tampa, said firearm education can start as young as 5-years-old but that is just the beginning.
"Educate the children. Let them know the dangers of the firearm. But have the firearm safely held in the house," he told FOX 13.
Kitzis said stores have to include a gun lock with a purchased firearm, but owners have a lot of other options to choose from.
"There's a million things you can use," he said pointing out bolt locks and cables that can prevent a revolver from firing. "[There are also] locks for your shot guns, for your gun cases, more imortantly trigger locks...a nine dollar lock put on your gun, that gun can never fire. And that's key to gun owners is the safety. It's not just having a gun, but making sure it can't be grabbed by children or anyone that shouldn't have it."
Gun locks can be as inexpensive as five dollars. Kitzis, however, said safes can be the most the most effective way to secure a weapon.
According to state law, gun owners must have trigger locks or a safe if a child can reasonably access the firearm.