Shooting death of two-year-old in Kentucky stirs gun debate

Posted at 11:28 PM, May 03, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-03 23:28:48-04

RICHMOND, Va (WTVR)- Rest assured, every time there's a tragic incident in this country involving a gun, both sides of gun rights’ issues will take aim at each other.

The latest case triggering the debate involves a five-year-old who accidentally killed his two-year-old sister in Kentucky.

The weapon: a .22 caliber rifle.

As 12 –year-old Cheyenne Mason fired her pink .22 caliber rifle, she went over the lessons she’s learned.

"My dad taught me how to put it together,” Cheyenne said.  As her father reminded her of “muzzle awareness,” she took target practice with a Christmas gift that Santa delivered five years ago.

"Even though it's unloaded you have to think of it as loaded," she added.

That is something her father instilled in her at a young age.  "At a younger age they're easier to train than older kids because older kids watch movies and video games and stuff and they lose reality," Chris Mason said.

But some think gun manufacturers should be held more accountable.   In the wake of the Kentucky shooting, Lori Haas says tragedies continue because gun makers are aiming their marketing at kids.

"It's a sale at any cost,” Haas said.  “The lives of children don't seem to matter anymore."

The Smoking Gun shooting range manager Ashley Picchi fired off a response, saying kids aren't the ones making the gun purchase: parents do that.

"If you train your children the proper way to handle the firearm and safety procedures, then they'll have no problem," Picchi said.

"Marketing a lethal weapon to a child is unacceptable,” said Haas.  “We are supposed to have a consumer protection agency to combat that."

But a father at the shooting range Friday said even a younger shooter can be properly guided. "You can't say ‘Here little Jimmy, here's a gun’ and walk away,” said Mason.  “As a parent, be a parent and teach them how to handle it."

The Cricket website that sells  "My first gun or Cricket rifles" does include a kids’ corner section.  But in a published report, a lawyer representing the company insists it isn't marketing to children.  Instead, he said it is marketing to parents who buy guns for their children.