WHO SHOULD BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR A 5-YEAR-OLD BOY KILLING HIS 2-YEAR-OLD SISTER WITH HIS .22 CALIBER RIFLE
You read it correctly. According to an Associated Press articles by Travis Loller, the boy’s parents gave him a .22-caliber rifle as a gift. The gun was left in a corner in the house and the parents did not realize it was loaded. The mother stepped out on the porch for a few minutes and “she heard the gun go off”. Her 2-year-old daughter is now dead–shot by her 5-year-old brother.
Keystone Sporting Arms, a Pennsylvania company, produces Crickett and Chipmunk rifles for children. They have a “Kids Corner” section on their website. The smaller rifles are in different colors to market to both boys and girls. The company’s slogan is “my first rifle.” On the website are pictures of young boys and girls with rifles. The company also markets guns for adults.
Enrique Chavez, a retired Los Angeles police officer, was paralyzed from the waist down when his 3-year old son shot him with his service revolver. He is in the process of suing Glock Inc. claiming the Glock 21 pistol lacked adequate safeguards against accidental discharge. The 5-year-old could not have fired the rifle if an effective trigger locking mechanisms were part of the gun. Keystone Sporting Arms reports all of their guns have safety locks, and some even have ones that require a key. According to the AP articles, the police have not released the model of the rifle the 5-year-old used.
Should the parents be prosecuted? If you make a dangerous weapon accessible to a minor without proper parental supervision, you could be considered to be grossly negligent. I don’t care whether you live in rural Kentucky or anywhere else in this country. Does the prosecuting agency where the family lives want to make a statement to other parents that this kind of gross negligence will not go unpunished? The family lives in rural southern Kentucky. Should the fact that this terrible accident occurred in a rural area excuse the child’s death? Loller quotes the County Coroner Gary White, “Down in Kentucky where we’re from guns are passed down from generation to generation. You start at a young age with guns for hunting and everything.” The parents will need intensive therapy to deal with their guilt as to what has happened. One can only hope and pray their family can remain intact through this ordeal. Their 5-year-old son will also need intensive therapy.
We represented a 16-year-old girl whose father gave her a .22 rifle as a Christmas gift. Within two months she shoots and kills two adults, wounds 8 children and a police officer. This would not have happened without her being given access to the .22 rifle. Most of the school shootings by minors in this country would not have occurred if the minors did not have access to guns. We have represented over the years a handful of teenagers who have shot an acquaintance and killed them thinking the gun they were playing with was not loaded. See our blog GUNS–ONE OF THE LEADING CAUSES OF DEATH OF CHILDREN UNDER 18 IN THE UNITED STATES, PART 1 and PART 2.
A two-year-old is now dead through no fault of her own. This would not have happened without the 5-year-old having access to the loaded .22 rifle. You as a parent must exert strict supervision and control over the use of all guns by minors in your home. It is your parental responsibility to safeguard your children.