The State Senate passes a bill to toughen penalties against reckless gun owners if a child

gains access to their loaded firearm and injures or kills another person. The bill (S-516), sponsored by shore State Senator Jim Holzapfel (R-10), would change the law from a disorderly persons offense to a third or fourth degree crime.

"In my hometown of Toms River, a four-year-old shot and killed his six-year-old neighbor with one of many loaded firearms his father left unsecured around his home within reach of the young child," said Holzapfel in a press release. "As a former prosecutor, gun owner and supporter of the Second Amendment, I fined it unconscionable that some gun owners could be so irresponsible. As long as the penalty remains a virtual slap on the wrist for gun owners in these instances, we will continue to read about these tragedies."

According to Holzapfel's press release, "under the legislation, the penalty would increase for the adult gun owner from a disorderly person's offense to a fourth-degree crime if the child's access to the firearm results in serious bodily injury. The penalty would increase to a third-degree crime if the child's access to the firearm results in death."

On Monday, April 8th, 2013, a 4-year-old Toms River boy took a loaded unsecured .22 caliber rifle out of his parent's bedroom and brought it outside and fired a single shot that struck his 6-year-old neighbor, Brandon Holt in the head,

The 4-year-old boy's father, Anthony Senatore, was charged with five counts of second-degree child endangerment for leaving several unsecured firearms in the house accessible to his own children ages, 12, 8 and 4.

In November 2013, Senatore rejected a plea deal that would have carried a seven year sentence on child endangerment charges. He remains free on $100,000 bail.