A 5-year-old boy in Kentucky accidentally shot his 2-year-old sister yesterday afternoon with a .22-caliber rifle he received as a gift last year. Their mother, who was home at the time, told police she stepped away for just three minutes when the shooting occurred. The family was reportedly unaware that the gun, which they stowed in a corner of the home rather than locked away, still had a shell inside. The toddler was later pronounced dead at the hospital.
This is a tragic yet all too familiar story, particularly in the month of April when it seemed as though a small child was accidentally shooting or getting shot every other day. What’s most frustrating is that these tragedies are totally preventable, if only families with children would just get rid of all their guns.
But that’s never going to happen in a country where it’s controversial for doctors to discuss gun safety with their patients. NRA-sponsored doctor gag laws have popped up in state legislatures across the country, including Alabama, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee and West Virginia. The law passed in Florida in 2011 but it’s being challenged in federal court. More than 50 House lawmakers have signed onto a similar bill in South Carolina.
Meanwhile, preventable gun deaths continue unabated. On April 10, Think Progress reported that four people had been shot by toddlers over a single weekend. The death of the Kentucky toddler I mentioned above marked the ninth “toddler-involved shooting” (I can’t believe that’s a thing!) in the month of April alone. And that’s only counting the ones that were reported in the news media and doesn’t include gun accidents involving children between seven and 14. Here is a timeline of those cases:
April 1: A 3-year-old in Sandy Springs, Georgia, shot himself in the thumb with .380 pistol, which he found tucked underneath a bed at his father’s girlfriend’s house.
April 6: A 4-year-old boy in Wilson County, Tennessee, accidentally fired a pistol during a family cookout, striking and immediately killing a sheriff deputy’s wife, 48-year-old Josephine G. Fanning. The weapon belonged to Fanning’s husband, 51-year-old Sheriff’s Deputy Daniel Fanning. Daniel wanted to show a relative one of his rifles so he left the loaded pistol on the bed for “just a moment” as he went to retrieve the other weapon from a locked cabinet in his bedroom.
Coincidentally, The Tennessean reports, “Tennessee has the sixth-highest rate of accidental shooting deaths in the nation, according to a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which collected data from 45 states and the District of Columbia. From 1999 through 2010, 427 people were killed in such incidents in Tennessee, and more than 8,300 were killed nationwide.”
April 7: Rekia Kid,22, was sleeping with her 3-week-old and 2-year-old at their home in Carroll County, Tennessee, when the toddler accidentally fired a Glock 9 mm he found hidden underneath Kid’s pillow, striking his mother in the stomach. Kid, who had no phone, stumbled out of the house and into the neighbors yard before collapsing as she begged for her children to be taken care of. After disarming the toddler and getting the children to safety, Kid’s neighbors rushed her to the nearest hospital, which was 30 minutes away. Fortunately, she survived.
April 8: A 4-year-old Ocean County, New Jersey boy shot his 6-year-old neighbor, Brandon Holt, in the head during a play date. Holt was flown to the hospital where he died the next day. The two were playing outside when the 4-year-old went into his home and retrieved a loaded .22 caliber pistol which he accidentally fired about 15 yards away from Holt. No charges have been filed thus far but authorities are still investigating.
April 9: In Sumter, South Carolina, 3-year-old Qui’ontrez Moss accidentally killed himself with a gun that belonged to his uncle, James Patrick, a law enforcement officer for the law enforcement officer at the nearby air force base. According to police, “the gun was left in the open, loaded“.
At least 57 South Carolina lawmakers have signed onto a bill that would make it illegal for doctors to discuss gun safety with their patients.
April 12: Gavin Brummett, 7, accidentally shot himself in the head with a semiautomatic 9mm handgun, which he, his father and brother were shooting in the rural town of Saline, Kansas. Brummett died in the hospital following day.
April 14: 9-year-old Shayla May Shonneker was playing in her back yard when she was struck in the face by a bullet that came from inside her house in Oregon City, Oregon. Her mother’s boyfriend, an Iraq war veteran, had been practicing drawing his handgun inside the house when the weapon accidentally fired. “The bullet went through a wall and hit Shonneker, who was about 50 yards away from the house,” reported KATU. Shayla was pronounced dead when she arrived at the hospital.
April 16: A 6-year-old girl in Mission, Kansas, was accidentally shot in the leg by her 14-year-old cousin in Kansas. The teen was in the waiting room at a chiropractic office with his aunt and three cousins when a 9 mm handgun he was carrying in his pocket unintentionally fired. The injury was serious but not life-threatening.
Back in January, Mission, Kansas, was the site of another unintentional shooting when a 3-year-old boy shot himself with his father’s gun.
April 20: A 2-year-boy reached into his father’s pocket, pulled out a gun and accidentally shot himself in the chest in Greenville, South Caroline. He was alert and conscious at the hospital according to various news reports, so he appears to have survived (fingers crossed).
April 22: A 3-year-old shot a 10-month-old in the face with a loaded handgun while left temporarily unattended in their parents car just outside their family’s home in Middletown, Idaho. The infant survived and is now back in the care of the parents who could face charges for child endangerment because the gun was not locked away.
April 27: A 4-year-old Henrico County, Virginia boy was shot in the leg by his 10-year-old sibling who accidentally fired a gun he had located in their home. Their mother, 29-year-old Antonia O’Brien, who was present at the time of shooting, has been arrested and charged with two counts of abuse/neglect of child.
April 30: A 5-year-old boy in Kentucky accidentally shot and killed his 2-year-old sister with a .22-caliber rifle he received as a gift. The family kept the rifle in a corner, unaware a shell was still in it.