Guns in America: “Just One of Those Crazy Accidents”
I’m going to post several stories from news sources across the country. I’ll withhold comment until after the stories.
1) Lexington Herald-Leader (April 30, 2013)
A 5-year-old boy who was playing with a .22-caliber rifle accidentally shot and killed his 2-year-old sister in Cumberland County on Tuesday afternoon, according to a news release from the state police.
The shooting happened just after 1 p.m. at a home on Lawson’s Bottom Road.
The 2-year-old was taken to Cumberland County Hospital, where she was later pronounced dead. An autopsy has been scheduled for Wednesday.
Cumberland County Coroner Gary White identified the girl as Caroline Starks.
He said the children’s mother was at home when the shooting occurred, and the gun was a gift the boy received last year.
“It’s a Crickett,” he said. “It’s a little rifle for a kid. … The little boy’s used to shooting the little gun.”
White said the gun was kept in a corner, and the family did not realize a shell had been left in it.
He said the shooting will be ruled accidental.
“Just one of those crazy accidents,” White said.
2) Tennessean (April 8, 2013)
A 4-year-old gained access to a gun at family gathering
The wife of a Wilson County Sheriff’s Office deputy was shot to death Saturday at their Lebanon home by a 4-year-old who gained access to a gun at a family cookout, police said.
Josephine G. Fanning, 48, was pronounced dead at the home at 6710 S.E. Tater Peeler Road, according to the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office.
The shooting occurred while Wilson County Deputy Daniel Fanning, 51, was with another relative looking at guns in a bedroom of the home, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
The 4-year-old and Josephine Fanning walked into the bedroom where a loaded weapon was on top of the bed, TBI spokeswoman Kristin Helm said. The child picked up the gun and fired one round, which killed Josephine Fanning.
Alcohol was present at the gathering, Helm said. Daniel Fanning was not on duty at the time of the shooting.
The gun fired by the 4-year-old was Fanning’s personal weapon and not a police gun, Helm said. The 4-year-old was a relative of Daniel and Josephine Fanning, police said.
The TBI will continue investigating and turn over its findings to the district attorney’s office, Helm said. Charges aren’t pending.
“(It) appears accidental at this time,” Helm said.
Daniel Fanning was hired by former longtime Wilson County Sheriff Terry Ashe, who resigned last year to become executive director of the Tennessee Sheriffs’ Association.
3) WBBJ (ABC affiliate in Western Tennessee) (April 8, 2013)
CARROLL COUNTY, Tenn.- Carroll County Sheriff Deputies are investigating after a new mother was hospitalized for a gunshot wound to her stomach, Sunday.
Carroll County Sheriff Andy Dickson told WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News that the mother Rekia Kid, 22, was shot in the stomach by her 2-year-old son at her Lavinia home, Sunday. Investigators said the mother was sleeping with her three-week-old baby and toddler at the time of the shooting. Dickson said they believe the toddler accidentally shot his mother after finding a Glock 9 mm stored underneath Kid’s pillow.
“I’ve been with the Sheriffs Department for 20 years and never seen an accidental discharge like this. I have seen several accidental discharges but never one like this,” said Sheriff Dickson. “I would love to encourage any firearm owner to treat their weapon with respect, to keep it to where children can not get a hold of it.”
Neighbor Michael Jeter said somehow Kid was able to make it down her steps,across their yard to his front porch where his four year old son found her.
“She was laying on my porch bleeding and she was screaming that her 2 year old found their gun and shot her,” said Jeter. “It was horrible, I’ve never seen anything like that, I actually thought she was going to die right there on the porch.”
Neighbors banded together, Jeter said some held pressure onto the gunshot wound while others called 911.
“All I could think was the kid was still over there with the gun so I ran into her house, i didn’t know if he still had the gun or not,” said Jeter.
Jeter carefully went back into the house, and grabbed the toddler to safety. Then his wife then ran in to get the newborn baby out of the bed.
“She just kept screaming that she didn't think she was going to make it, she didn't think she was going to make it and to please please take care of my children,” said Jeter.
After hearing that it would take a while for an ambulance, neighbors formed a plan and helped carry her to a car. Jeter said a neighbor drove her at least 30 minutes to the nearest hospital in Milan. Sheriff Dickson said the neighborhood’s quick reaction to get Kid to a hospital saved her life.
“She lives in a remote area of the county and it would have taken a long time for an ambulance to get there,” said Dickson. “So I think she made a wise decision to put her in a private vehicle and carry her on.”
Deputies said Kid was airlifted to the MED, Regional Medical Center at Memphis, where she is currently listed in serious but stable condition. Authorities said Kid’s spouse was away at guard training in Trenton when the shooting happened. Neighbors said she was left with the children at home without a phone.
“If it wouldn’t have been for everybody out here coming together I don’t know that we would have got her took care of, it was completely scary,” said Jeter.
Dickson said per protocol they've notified the Department of Child Protective Services to investigate.
4) Toms River Patch (April 9, 2013)
“There were other weapons,” chief says as police continue to investigate scene of Monday night tragedy
JERSEY SHORE– A Toms River 6-year-old who was shot in the head by a 4-year-old died Tuesday, according to Toms River police.
Brandon Holt died almost a day after he was shot in the McCormick Drive yard of the 4-year-old.
Other weapons were found at the scene of the Monday night shooting, according to Toms River Chief of Police Michael Mastronardy.
Mastronardy said that the boy obtained a .22 caliber rifle from inside the residence. The state Division of Youth and Family Services were also called to the scene because there were three other children in the home.
The parents were “nearby” when the incident occurred, the chief said. The mother of the 4-year-old called 911.
The 6-year-old was flown to Jersey Shore Medical Center in Neptune with a head injury and was in serious condition until around 5 p.m. Tuesday, the chief said.
The shooting occurred in the Cedar Grove area of the township, according to Toms River schools Assistant Superintendent James Hauenstein, who received the news during a New Jersey School Boards Association meeting Monday night.
The children were outside the home when the 4-year-old boy went inside to get the rifle, and then shot the 6-year-old about 15 yards away, the chief said. Mastronardy did not say if the 4-year-old pulled the trigger, or if the rifle accidentally discharged.
The 4-year-old’s parents were home at the time, but no names have been released.
Authorities were on scene at a McCormick Drive home Monday night and had the yard cordoned off with yellow tape. Toms River police and county vehicles remained on the scene.
Hauenstein said that the victim is a student at Saint Joseph’s Grade School. He said that Toms River schools officials will be available to provide counseling services to students at Cedar Grove Elementary and Saint Joseph’s.
Like a bad late night infomercial, there’s more.
5) WSYX (ABC affiliate in central Ohio) (April 26, 2013)
MARENGO — The Morrow County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the death of a 10-year-old boy in Marengo.
Sheriff’s deputies got a call from the home at 2957 County Road 107 just after 6 p.m. Thursday saying the boy had been shot.
When they got to the home, they searched it and questioned the people inside at the time of the shooting.
Sheriff’s detectives are not releasing any other details about what they have gathered from the scene, but they say it appears the shooting was an accident.
No word on how many people were inside the home, or how the gun was fired.
Deputies are also not releasing any names associated with this shooting.
6) KATU (Oregon) (April 22, 2013)
DONALD, Ore. — A four-year-old boy died of a gunshot wound in his home Saturday, investigators said.
It happened in Donald in the 10000 block of Main Street NE at around 5:30 p.m.
Cody R. Hall died from a single gunshot wound, Marion County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Don Thomson said. Investigators on Saturday said the shooting appeared to be an accident. They are not looking for any suspects in connection with Hall’s death.
The medical examiner’s office said an autopsy is scheduled for Monday. Investigators have not released any details about how the boy was shot.
Word of the tragedy spread fast in the town of 1,000 people where crime scene tape is almost unheard of.
Neighbor Art Wiles knows Hall’s family well. He said the boy’s father and uncle returned from a fishing trip Saturday evening. The shooting occurred while they were unloading their gear.
“They hadn’t been home for five minutes, and they were unloading their fishing gear, when somehow it happened,” Wiles said. “Very loving family with their kids. Very careful with their kids.”
Chuck Baker also lives nearby. He said he’d see Hall every week.
“I’d see the kid in the window, he’d wave at me and I’d wave back. Big ol’ smile and everything,” Baker said.
Saturday, he saw the boy’s mother in a panic.
“She came out of the house and she was hysterical. Shaking and crying and all that,” he said. “Really heartbreaking.”
Neighbors left flowers and candles near the home Saturday night.
Hall’s death is the second accidental shooting death of a young child in our area in the last week. On April 14, nine-year-old Shayla Shonneker was shot and killed in her back yard by a stray bullet in Oregon City. Her mother’s boyfriend was inside the home practicing drawing a gun when it fired, investigators said. He does not face charges at this time.
7) The Oregonian (April 15, 2013)
Oregon City police have identified the 9-year-girl accidentally shot and killed Sunday as Shayla May Schonneker, a fourth-grader in the Gladstone School District.
Police also identified the shooter as Joseph Wade Wolters, 32, the live-in boyfriend of Shayla’s mother.
Lt. Jim Band, Oregon City police spokesman, said investigators plan to search the home Monday and have not yet finished interviewing all the witnesses. He said the Clackamas County District Attorney’s Office would determine whether to file charges against Wolters.
Band said Shayla was playing out in the backyard of her home near 12th and Division streets around 5 p.m. Meanwhile, Wolters was practicing holstering and unholstering a loaded handgun, in preparation for his new job as an armed security guard with an armored transport company.
The gun accidentally discharged, shooting through the wall of the house and striking Shayla in the face, Band said. She was about 50 yards away from the house.
Shayla was rushed by helicopter ambulance to OHSU Hospital, where she died shortly after arrival.
Shayla was a student at John Wetten Elementary School, which was rocked by grief Monday. Gladstone School District Superintendent Bob Stewart said the district has activated its crisis-response team and has established a safe room for both adults and students.
“Many people on our staff were highly impacted by the news because of the close relationships they establish with the students,” Stewart said. “We have made counselors available for anyone who wants to talk this over.”
Stewart said Shayla was a student at John Wetten since kindergarten.
Band said Wolters was arrested in 2007, after going absent without leave from the U.S. Army. However, Wolters, a decorated Iraq War veteran who already had been honorably discharged, was released as soon as the mix-up was discovered.
Wolters received about 10 medals during his three years of Army service. He currently is a member of the military reserve.
8) KSN (Kansas) (April 15, 2013)
SALINA, Kansas – A 7-year-old Salina boy died Saturday night after accidentally shooting himself Friday afternoon.
Gavin Brummett was shot in the head while handling a handgun with his dad and brother on their rural property near Salina.
Saline County Sheriff’s officials said that’s when Brummett’s father heard two shots and saw that Gavin had shot himself. He was rushed to Salina Regional Health Center, and then airlifted to Wesley Medical Center in Wichita, where he died.
Deputies say the incident highlights the importance of extreme caution with firearms–especially around children.
“Just the basic firearm safety,” Rick Heinrich of the Saline County Sheriff’s Office said. “Where the parents are with the child and supervising very closely watching what they do and working with them and having that close parental supervision right there with them.”
Sheriff’s investigators are awaiting the results of an autopsy on Monday and will be holding a briefing then with more information.
Family friends have set up a memorial page where people can donate to a fund for the Brummett family to cover funeral expenses and other incidental costs.
9) WLTX (Columbia, South Carolina)
Sumter, SC (WLTX) - The Sumter County Coroner has identified the three-year-old boy who was shot and killed Tuesday.
Harvin Bullock says the boy was Qui’ontrez Moss of Georgia.
Moss was visiting the Magnolia Manor Apartments on Pike Road when the incident took place.
A preliminary investigation determined the child found a gun and shot himself. Police are still investgating [sic] what led up to the incident.
No charges have been filed in the case.
10) The Dispatch (North Carolina) (May 1, 2013)
No charges will be filed in the accidental shooting that landed a 10-year-old in the hospital Friday afternoon, Davidson County Sheriff David Grice said Wednesday morning.
The sheriff said a neighbor who lives about 1,200 feet away from the residence of the child, Zack Reno, was performing maintenance to his weapon when the accident occurred. Deputies were dispatched to the shooting that occurred in a field in the 1000 block of Clark Road about 4 p.m. Friday.
“We located the individual who did the shooting,” Grice said. “He was shooting from his front porch. He fired one round after cleaning his gun in what he thought was a safe direction and hit that kid.”
The sheriff said deputies have reviewed the case with representatives from the Davidson County District Attorney’s Office and do not believe charges are warranted. The man’s name will not be released, the sheriff said.
The sheriff previously said it appeared the boy and another juvenile were showing their uncle a hole in a field when all of a sudden Zack felt a sting. The bullet, the sheriff said, entered and exited the boy’s hip before traveling through his arm, where it stopped. The boy was treated and released at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem.
There is a strip of woods between the field where the boy was shot and from where the man fired, Grice said.
“He was unlucky that he got hit, but he was lucky he got hit the way he did,” the sheriff said of Zack.
So that makes 10 children, under the age of 12, who were either killed in accidental shootings and/or who shot someone accidentally (well, I guess, the number is really 12 because two stories involved two kids each, one being the shooter and one being the victim) all in the month of April 2013. Plus a bonus accidental gunshot victim of survived.
But no, we don’t have a problem with guns in America, do we?
Before reading the story about the Kentucky boy who shot his sister, I’d never heard of a Crickett Rifle. They tout themselves as “quality firearms for America’s youth”. Because that’s just what America’s youth need: Guns. Oh, and when I went to read a little bit about Crickett firearms, imagine my surprise (not) to find that they even make a cute pink rifle.
And apparently people actually buy these sorts of pink rifles for their children (and, yes, I noticed that the gun in the picture below is not the same model picture above; and, no, I don’t really give a shit):
After posting the above photo, I came across this even crazier image (and the caption indicates that the child has been using her M4 carbine since she was 9):
Oh, and this image too:
What do you think? Is that gun going to keep her safe … or is it going to put her and her family at greater risk? Hey, I’m going through the moodiness of a teenage daughter right now. I can’t fathom what that would be like if she was armed with an assault rifle!
So anyway, back to the main point. Children are finding guns. And wounding or killing other people, including other innocent children. And some adults, people who should know better, are “accidentally” shooting children. Apparently, the boy in the field was simply “unlucky” that some idiot with a gun fired off a round into the wilderness without first making sure that, you know, there weren’t any people in the direction he was aiming. Unlucky.
I recognize that enhanced background checks wouldn’t have stopped these tragic events (probably). Nor would a ban on assault rifles or high capacity magazines or any of the host of other gun control laws that are being discussed. On the other hand, it also doesn’t appear that restrictions on violent video games or better mental health screening would have stopped these events either. The only things that might have prevented these tragedies would have been parents who took better care of their guns or fewer guns in the first place. The NRA may say that it takes a good guy with a gun to stop a bad guy with a gun; but what does it take to stop an innocent toddler with a gun?
For every Sandy Hook there are many, many more incidents of “accidental” shootings involving children. Think about how many times you’ve heard or read about children finding a gun and “playing” with it with an outcome of one child being wounded or killed. It happens far, far too often in our country. According to a study by HealthyChildren.org:
Every two hours, someone’s child is killed with a gun, either in a homicide, a suicide, or as a result of an unintentional injury. In addition, an unknown but large number of children are seriously injured — often irreversibly disabled — by guns but survive. Major urban trauma centers are reporting an increase of 300 percent in the number of children treated for gunshot wounds; in fact, one in every twenty-five admissions to pediatric trauma centers in the United States is due to gunshot wounds.
Parents should realize that a gun in the home is forty-three times more likely to be used to kill a friend or family member than a burglar or other criminal. To compound this problem, depressed preteenagers and teenagers commit suicide with guns more frequently than by any other means.
Read that one statistic again: “one in every twenty-five admissions to pediatric trauma centers in the United States is due to gunshot wounds.” (Emphasis added.)
If children were being wounded or dying this frequently in car accidents, we’d probably consider mandating special safety seats for them to sit in. If they were being injured in bike accidents, we’d probably consider doing something to encourage them to wear helmets. If their toys were choking them or injuring them in some other way, I have no doubt that we’d find ways to reduce or eliminate those injuries, too.
Apparently, though, as long as the injury is caused by a gun … well, then it’s an “accident” and that’s just too fucking bad because “tyranny” and “freedom” and shit, right? It seems clear that we value the rights of adults over the lives of children. I don’t know about you, but I’m more than willing to inconvenience and adult here and there if it would help prevent more kids from, you know, dying.
Update (May 7, 2013): I just posted Guns in America: “Just One of Those Crazy Accidents” (update) which (sadly) includes another child killed in an accidental shooting in April 2013 (a 5-year-old girl killed by her 8-year-old brother) as well as some information about Crickett Rifles taking down their website (but leaving up the companion Chipmunk Rifles website which also markets to children).