orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

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May 2, 2013

5-year-old boy shoots 2-year-old sister in Ky.

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 at the time of the shooting Tuesday afternoon but had 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 didn't realize a bullet was left inside it.

White told the Lexington Herald-Leader the boy received the .22-caliber rifle as a gift.

"It's a Crickett," White said, referring to a company that specifically 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's 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 wound to the chest area.

In a brief news release, state police said the shooting occurred when the boy was "playing" with the rifle, but did not elaborate. It is not clear whether any charges will be filed, said Kentucky State Police spokesman Trooper Billy Gregory.

"I think it's too early to say whether there will or won't be," Gregory said.

The AP is not identifying the children because of their ages.

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