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What gun owners are and are not required to do to keep kids safe

Washington County deputies say a man unintentionally shot his 16-year-old son at this home in Aloha early Thursday morning.

On Thursday, a deputy told KATU what gun owners are and are not required to do to prevent tragedies after two shootings involving teens in Oregon.

"You kind of look at this in two ways: What people are legally required to do and what really you should be doing," said Deputy Jeff Talbot, a spokesman for the Washington County Sheriff's Office.

Talbot said a father unintentionally shot his son in Aloha early Thursday morning. He said deputies are still looking into the case and that the man is cooperating with investigators. The dad is not currently facing charges.

His son was the second teen involved in a shooting this week in Oregon.

On Tuesday, Douglas County deputies said 16-year-old Kevin Adams shot and killed his biological sister, foster mother and foster sister at a home near Roseburg.

After he faced a judge for the first time in the case Wednesday, investigators would not say how he got a hold of a firearm.

"The Douglas County Major Crimes Team continues to investigate this case and gather the facts," Sgt. Brad O'Dell, a Douglas County Sheriff's Office spokesman, told KATU by email. "These are details, however, that we are not prepared to release until trial."

In Aloha, Talbot said a 16-year-old boy was shot around 2:40 a.m. Thursday at a home on Southwest Peggy Court.

“(He) was taken to the hospital with serious but what appears to be at this point non-life-threatening injuries," Talbot explained Thursday afternoon.

He said the boy's father unintentionally shot his son while retrieving a handgun.

"Detectives from our violent crimes unit were called out and they are actively investigating," Talbot said.

A person inside the home told a KATU reporter the boy is OK.

Talbot, meanwhile, took the opportunity to remind people about gun safety.

"If you have a gun, lock it up," he recommended while admitting gun owners are not legally required to do so. "That being said, that's obviously a practice that we beg the public to do especially if you have children in the house or any young people running around."

Talbot also said gun owners should follow four cardinal rules of gun safety:

1. Always treat all firearms as if they were loaded.

2. Never allow the muzzle of any firearm to point at anything you are not willing to shoot.

3. Never put your finger near the trigger until you are ready to fire.

4. Always be sure of your target, and what is behind and in front of it.

"If children get a hold of a gun and something bad potentially happens there is a potential for a criminal charge against (a gun owner), yes," Talbot explained, "but that varies very significantly based on all the circumstances that would be uncovered during an investigation like that."

From 2010 to 2012, Oregon Health Authority said 184 people were hospitalized due to injuries sustained by the unintentional discharge of a firearm.

The latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in 2015 Oregon averaged 11.4 gun-related deaths per 100,000 people. That's just above the national average of 11.1 per 100,000.

A 2015 study led by Columbia University found 29.1 percent of adults nationwide owned guns. In Oregon, researchers said the percentage of adults who owned guns was 26.6.

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