A 3-year-old accidentally shot his father in the leg with a 22-rifle on Monday in North Bastrop.

Morehouse Parish Police Chief James Mardis said the father of the 3-year-old had just returned from hunting and sat his rifle down thinking it was empty of bullets, until the toddler accidentally shot him in the leg.

"Fortunately, the father is not critically injured and is at home recovering," he said. "It could have been very bad. He could have lost his life.

"I would like to emphasize the importance of gun safety over the holiday and during hunting season," Mardis said. "Lock up your guns.

"Be cautious with your guns over the holidays," he said. "Store guns and ammunition in two separate locations, locked up."

The National Rifle Association offers tips on their website:

Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.

Always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.

Always keep the gun unloaded until ready to use.

For more safety precautions see the NRA website at https://gunsafetyrules.nra.org.

The Morehouse Parish Sheriff's office, located at 351 South Franklin St., has free gunlocks while supplies last.