BURKESVILLE, Ky. — A 5-year-old boy accidentally shot his 2-year-old sister to death in rural southern Kentucky with a rifle he had received as a gift last year, authorities said.
The children’s mother was home Tuesday but stepped out to the front porch for a few minutes and “she heard the gun go off,” Cumberland County Coroner Gary White said. He said the rifle was kept in a corner and the family did not realize a bullet was in it.
White told the Lexington Herald-Leader the boy received the .22 as a gift.
“It’s a Crickett,” White said, referring to a company that makes guns, clothes, and books for children. “It’s a little rifle for a kid. ... The little boy’s used to shooting the little gun.”
The shooting, while accidental, highlights a cultural divide in the gun debate. While many suburban and urban areas work to keep guns out of the hands of children, it is not uncommon for youths in rural areas to own guns for target practice and hunting.
“Down in Kentucky where we’re from, you know, guns are passed down from generation to generation. You start at a young age with guns for hunting and everything,” White said Wednesday. What is more unusual than a child having a gun, he said, is “that a kid would get shot with it.”
“Accidents happen with guns. They thought the gun was actually unloaded, and it wasn’t,” the coroner said.
White said the girl died of a single gunshot to the chest.