8yo shoots mother after mistaking loaded gun for toy, gun owner arrested

A Tennessee woman is in a critical condition after her son shot her using a gun he believed to be a toy.

The eight-year-old boy found the gun inside a World War II era jeep on display at a baseball game in the city of Millington on Tuesday (local time), police said.

He picked up the gun, which was unsecured inside the vehicle, and then pointed it at his mother and pulled the trigger, believing it was a toy.

The woman was taken to a local hospital and is currently in critical condition.

Jeep owner Charles McFarland Jr, 76, was arrested and charged with reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon.

Millington police chief Mark Dunbar said the incident should not have happened.

"Secure your weapons. Everybody's got a right to carry, if they got a carry permit, but you need to use common sense and secure your weapons."

Supporters of McFarland have claimed he's not entirely at fault and blamed the mother for not keeping an eye on her child.

"I agree that Mr. McFarland should have used more thought to his actions but why aren't we ever holding parents responsible for the supervision and training of the child? I hate this for Mr McFarland to be made out to be such a bad guy. He is so kind and thoughtful," one person wrote on Facebook.

"Yes, the weapon should have been unloaded and put in a more secure place BUT also the parents should have exercised a better watch, children especially younger ones are quick and very curious, McFarland didn't mean for this to happen, imagine how he feels," another said.