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Michigan father 1st charged under new safe gun storage law after son shoots himself in the face

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(WARREN, Mich.) — Michigan prosecutors charged a father for violating the state’s newly enacted safe storage law after his son allegedly got a hold of a firearm and shot himself in the face in their home.

Theo Nichols’ 8-year-old son was in “extremely critical condition,” at a Detroit hospital following the April 19 incident, police in Warren, Michigan, said at a news conference Wednesday.

Investigators said the boy used a chair to access the handgun which was “unsafely” and insecurely stored on top of a kitchen cabinet.

“In the wake of this tragic incident, we are reminded of the profound responsibility that comes with gun ownership,” Macomb County Prosecutor Peter J. Lucido said in a statement.

Nichols, the child’s mother and three of the child’s siblings were inside the home during the incident, police said. Nichols was not permitted to own a firearm due to a previous drug-related conviction, according to police.

Last year, the Michigan state legislature passed a law that requires firearm owners to either store their weapons in a secure, locked container or have a lock on the weapon if a minor lives in the home or if they know a minor is coming into their home. The law, which went into effect in February, issues lengthy prison time if convicted.

Nichols, 56, is the first defendant to be charged with violating that law. He was also arraigned on other charges Monday including child abuse and being charged as a habitual officer third offender, the district attorney’s office said.

Nichols was being held on $250,000 bail. His next court appearance is scheduled for April 30, the district attorney’s office said.

Attorney information for the suspect was not immediately available.

The investigation was ongoing, investigators said.

Acting Warren Police Commissioner Charles Rushton reiterated that the incident was preventable and reminded people that gun locks are available at the police department and other agencies for free.

“We always recommend gun safes for people, unfortunately, people don’t listen to us,” he said. “Hopefully this press conference, if it does nothing else, changes one person’s mind to use a gun lock and prevent another tragedy.

Lucido echoed the commissioner’s sentiments.

“It serves as a tragic warning to every parent out there. Do your part. Do not back down. If you own a gun, you have children, and their safety is at risk,” he said at the news conference.

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