- (Photo: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton)
The latest shooting incident in America, involving the death of a 2-year-old girl by her 5-year-old brother with a rifle made for children, has rekindled the fires in the gun control debate.
The boy used a .22 rifle given to him as a present when he accidentally shot his sister. There was another incident Wednesday night when a 7-year-old boy in Washington shot his 9-year-old sister in the leg using a .22 caliber rifle, ABC News reported.
"It's a Crickett," said Cumberland County Coroner Gary White, talking about the case involving the 5-year-old boy. "It's a little rifle for a kid. ... The little boy's used to shooting the little gun."
"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 added, arguing that it is not uncommon for children to have guns, but unusual for a child to be shot with one.
The website for Keystone Sporting Arms, which manufactures the Cricket model gun, was down when The Christian Post checked it on Friday, but ABC reported that it uses the slogan "quality firearms for America's youth," and says that "the goal of KSA is to instill gun safety in the minds of youth shooters and encourage them to gain the knowledge and respect that hunting and shooting activities require and deserve."
Many Americans, including President Barack Obama, have called for background checks and stricter gun laws in the U.S., with hopes of reducing the number of gun-related deaths and major shooting incidents the country has suffered through recently.
Some conservatives, however, have opposed such changes and have expressed concern that their Second Amendment rights might be infringed on. Some have also blamed the violence not on the weapons, but on people and the media.
The issue of guns being used by children has stirred some strong emotions. The December massacre of 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., is still fresh on the minds of many people, and is what stirred Obama to call for tougher gun control laws.
Blogs such as Kid Shooting track the different stories that appear each month concerning child victims and guns. The website claims that nearly 3,000 children and teens die from gunfire each year, while 14,000 are injured.
"Unfortunately national estimates on how many children accidentally kill one another with firearms are unreliable, as states vary in how they code these deaths," said Daniel Webster of the John Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research in an email to NBC News. "State A may code an incident as a homicide, whereas State B will code the same type of incident as an accidental shooting."
Josh Sugarmann, executive director and founder of the Violence Policy Center, told ABC that he hopes that gun legislation being considered in Washington, D.C., will also look at protecting children.
"We believe possession laws should mirror laws for purchase 18 for long guns, 21 for hand guns," Sugarmann said. "The idea of putting a gun into a child's hand should be viewed as a crime."