Three children were shot in the space of a few weeks, and in each case, the parents were not practicing gun safety.

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Bad things happen in threes. We know that all too well around here.

In the past few weeks, three children in Washington state have been shot — two of them killed — because the owners of guns didn’t lock them up tight.

Early Wednesday morning, 3-year-old Julio Segura-McIntosh died after he shot himself in the head with a handgun his mother’s boyfriend stashed under the seat of his car when he got out to pump gas in Tacoma.

On Saturday, 7-year-old Jenna Carlile was fatally shot by her younger brother while they were alone in the family van in Stanwood. Their father, Derek Carlile, a Marysville police officer, had left a handgun in the vehicle and was standing outside with his wife when the shooting occurred. Jenna died the following day.

And in Bremerton last month, 8-year-old Amina Kocer-Bowman was critically wounded when a gun a 9-year-old classmate had brought to school in his backpack accidentally discharged.

Clearly, Washington state needs to establish tougher gun laws that, at the very least, require guns be locked up around children. Trigger locks would help, too.

But neither issue will see light until the next legislative session.

For now, law enforcement and the courts will impose the cost of carelessness on the adults responsible for the guns in question. Each left a gun unlocked in a place where a child could reach it, fire it — and kill or nearly kill with it.

And yet, the adults involved couldn’t be more different.

The Bremerton boy told police that he found the .45 caliber, semiautomatic gun during a visit with his mother, Jamie Chaffin, who is no Girl Scout. The gun was registered to her boyfriend, Douglas L. Bauer.

Police found methamphetamine and syringes in Chaffin’s belongings in 2005. She was once convicted of forgery after trying to cash stolen checks; and charged with selling marijuana out of a Kitsap County motel.

With a record like that, what was she doing with a gun in the home?

On the other end of the spectrum is Derek Carlile, a police officer who spent every day with a gun on his hip.

As a cop, he deserves our respect and condolences for the loss of his daughter, but also to be asked: What were you thinking? More than anyone, Carlile knows how to handle and store a handgun — and what could go wrong.

The owner of the gun with which Julio Segura-McIntosh shot himself also belonged to his mother’s boyfriend, who had a concealed-weapons permit, which means he had to have some safety training.

And yet, all of these people who felt the need to have or carry a firearm let their guard down — and the safety off.

Kitsap County prosecutors promised swift action in the Bremerton case. On Thursday, Chaffin and Bauer were each charged with third-degree assault. If convicted, they could face five years in jail. Chaffin was held on $50,000 bail and Bauer was released on his own recognizance.

The Pierce County prosecutor has indicated that he will likely file charges against the boyfriend of Julio Segura-McIntosh’s mother.

Meanwhile, Snohomish County prosecutors have been silent on what action may be taken against Carlile, the police officer. It could take months to investigate the shooting — but why?

His case, at its very core, is the same as the others. They had guns and children in the same place. They didn’t notice. And the unimaginable happened.

The only lesson that can come out of all this sadness and loss is that carelessness has a cost.

It should be the same for everyone.

Nicole Brodeur’s column appears Tuesday and Friday. Reach her at 206-464-2334 or nbrodeur@seattletimes.com.