US boy, 3, shoots parents with gun he took from mum's handbag

Customers shop for a handgun at Metro Shooting Supplies on Nov 12, 2014 in Bridgeton, Missouri. A three-year-old boy in New Mexico shot his parents after being left within reach of a gun, the latest in a spate of firearm-related tragedies involv
Customers shop for a handgun at Metro Shooting Supplies on Nov 12, 2014 in Bridgeton, Missouri. A three-year-old boy in New Mexico shot his parents after being left within reach of a gun, the latest in a spate of firearm-related tragedies involving young children. -- PHOTO: AFP

A three-year-old boy in the United States has shot his parents after being left within reach of a gun, the latest in a spate of firearm-related tragedies involving young children.

The toddler was in a hotel room in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with his parents and two-year-old sister on Saturday when he removed a handgun from his mother's handbag and fired one shot, CNN report.

The bullet struck the boy's father in his lower buttock, exited through his hip and hit the mother in the right shoulder, CNN said, citing Officer Simon Drobik of the Albuquerque Police Department.

The mother is eight months pregnant. The family was not identified by police.

The father was treated and released from the hospital while the mother was hospitalised in stable condition. The condition of her unborn child is unknown.

The boy and his sister were under the care of social welfare services, CNN said. They were not injured in the incident.

The case had been sent to Albuquerque District Attorney's Office, which will determine whether the parents will be charged with criminal negligence, CNN said.

In December, a two-year-old boy fatally shot his mother while they were shopping at a Walmart store in Idaho.

Last month, another toddler, also a two-year-old boy, shot himself in the chest with a gun he found in the glove compartment of his parents' car in Florida. The boy did not survive.

Last August, a nine-year-old girl learning to fire an Uzi submachine gun accidentally killed her instructor at a shooting range in the United States.

The tragedies have added to the long-standing debate over gun ownership in the US.

seokhwai@sph.com.sg