A tragic gun accident in Cumberland County, Kentucky, left a toddler dead. A 5-year-old boy shot and killed his 2-year-old sister with a .22 caliber rifle. Apparently the rifle was leaning in a corner while the children's mother was cleaning house. She stepped outside for a few minutes, which is when her son picked up the firearm and accidentally shot his sister.
It was the 5-year-old's gun, a Crickett "My First Rifle" he'd been given as a gift last year.
The children's mother says she thought the gun was unloaded, but there was evidently one more shell left behind. And that's all it took. I feel for the family's loss. I wouldn't wish this tragedy on anyone. Though an accident, on some level, that boy will carry the burden of his sister's death for the rest of his life.
But maybe because it was a 2-year-old child who was shot, this infuriates me. Forget the whole question of whether kindergarten-aged kids should even get guns (when their motor and reasoning skills are still developing!). There were some GLARING gun safety -- and freakin' common sense -- principles violated here.
That gun shouldn't have been stored in a corner within a child's easy reach, loaded or unloaded. You lock those things up, and you only let your children use them when you can give them your full, undivided supervision. You triple-check a gun to make sure it's not loaded before putting it away. And even then, you treat every gun as if it could still be loaded. Because every damn time a child gets accidentally shot, the parents always say, "We thought it was unloaded!"
But I also think it's irresponsible to market a gun for small children. I think it gives the false impression that the gun is less dangerous than it really is. It may have less kick than an adult gun, but clearly it's still a lethal weapon. And it should be treated that way. It's not a toy!
Coroner Gary White seemed to be trying to minimize the parents' responsibility in this horrible accident. "It's a little rifle for a kid," he said, adding, "The little boy's used to shooting the little gun." White says the boy was playing (!!!) with the gun and this was "just one of those crazy accidents." Crazy as in preventable, you mean? Or crazy as in what in Sam hell was a 5-year-old doing "playing" with a gun INDOORS while the only adult in the house is occupied with housework!?!
I know that for every foolish parent, there are hundreds (thousands?) of responsible gun-owning parents who teach their children gun safety and go out of their way to protect their families from accidents. I wonder what they would say to this 5-year-old's mom if they had five minutes with her?
Do you think it's too dangerous to give a 5-year-old a real gun?
Image via Rat Ranch/Flickr