Young Guns: family fortunate son survived shooting - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Young Guns: family fortunate son survived shooting

By Josh Harvison - bio | email

DONIPHAN, MO (KAIT) – It was a dry June day last year when one woman got the most terrifying phone call of her life. April Murdock, who lives west of Doniphan in Ripley County, said her son, 12-year old Jonathan Murdock, was shot in the stomach by his best friend. She said he was rushed to a hospital in Doniphan before being transported to Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center in St. Louis.

"We were more worried about going in with the bleeding instead of out," said Murdock. "If it would have been any further over, it could have got to his femoral artery."

April said she has seen the same type of injury her son suffered from on other people. She's been a medic for six years in southeast Missouri, along with her husband.

"When they took him to Cardinal Glennon in St. Louis, they said it would cause more damage to take the bullet out than it would to leave it in," said April. "You realize from right at the get-go that it was an accident."

Jonathan said he was shooting at aluminum cans when he gave the gun to his best friend. When his friend pulled the trigger, the bullet ricocheted off a rock. Jonathan said he and the shooter are still best friends.

"We were just shooting at them and I gave the gun to him to shoot and he shot. It hit a rock or something and hit and came back and hit me," said Jonathan. "We were next to each other."

April said she remembered the drive back from Cape Girardeau. She was there for a hospital visit with another son.

"You go through many scenarios in your head and think ahead of what you can do. Prepare for the worst and hope it's not as bad as you're thinking it's going to be," said April.

When discussing other accidents, April said, "It makes you thankful that it wasn't your own."

April said the family learned a valuable lesson from Jonathan's accident.

"He needed to be a little bit more responsible when they were shooting guns. He needed to have an adult present at all times just to make sure that kind of prevents against something like that happening," said April.

Jonathan's accident is one of many similar stories. According to, there were 46 firearm deaths in Arkansas in 2005. It also suggested firearms are in approximately 1/3 of all American households.

However, a study by the University of Michigan's C.S. Mott Children's Hospital showed 52% of parents who do not have a gun at home never talk to their children about gun safety.

Steve Skillern, a life member of the National Rifle Association and owner of the Highway 1 Gun Range, said everyone should know how to use a gun, or at least unload them.

"I think every adult should know to unload a gun. They may not ever use it. They may not ever shoot it, but if they come across a gun that's lying there, they need to know if it's empty or if it's full," said Skillern. "The first thing is know what you're doing if you're handling a gun. You shouldn't even handle one if you don't have a clue what you're doing. When you pick up a gun, you've got to know that the number one rule is keep that gun pointed in a safe direction."

According to the NRA, accidental firearm discharges are the 9th leading cause of death for children between one-year old and 14-years old. The organization also provides information to help keep guns away from children. Click here for gun safety tips.

"By itself, lying right there it can't hurt anything. It has to have a human connected to it to do anything," said Skillern. "With our freedom comes responsibility. We got to take the responsibility to learn to handle things safely. To use them like the tools they are supposed to be."

Guns are more prevalent in some parts of the country. According to a study in a 2002 Journal of Trauma-Injury Infection & Critical Care, more firearm deaths and accident occurred in places where guns are more common.

"When you have enough people handling enough guns, sooner or later something will happen. We being rational beings and being able to get trained, we should be able to train each other not to do that, not to have an accident," said Skillern.

Skillern said firearm accidents have decreased over the last 20 years. He credited that to more training and supervision.

"We didn't have the training programs that are out there today to show kids that they've got to be safe when they're handling guns and the danger that goes along with it," said Skillern. "If you have the gun pointed in a safe direction, if it accidentally discharged, then you're not going to hurt anything. Walls can be repaired. People are a different story."

Skillern said many parents who never have the conversation are scared to talk about guns, despite the fact many young boys get interested in the firearms.

"Their fear is about something that is unknown to them. They haven't trained with a gun. Sure, it's understandable because there's a danger with any gun," said Skillern. "You want to teach them the basics of gun safety and go ahead and take the mystery out of it. Let them go ahead and pull the trigger on it and say, that bullet, when it goes through that paper just like it could go through a person. It's permanent. They won't get up from it."

April said her son was fortunate to have survived his accident. She hopes her story will help parents realize the dangers of misusing guns.

"Ever since they pretty well been born, at an age that they can kind of get the concept of what's going on with guns and everything, we try to teach them that they don't touch them unless there's someone there with them," said April. "Stress the importance to your kids that guns do kill if they're not used properly."

Copyright 2011 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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