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American Child Gun Owner Shots 2-Year-Old Sister Dead

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By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | May 2, 2013 2:26 PM EST

He received it as a gift meant to entertain and educate him with the rigours of responsible gun handling and gun safety. But what should have been a simple child's toy has claimed a life of another loved one.

The victim, identified as 2-year-old Caroline Starks was playing nearby her 5-year-old brother when the latter accidentally pulled the trigger of his toy, a Cricket .22-caliber rifle, a little rifle he received as a gift last year.

The accidental shooting occurred just after 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday at the home of the children in rural Cumberland county in Kentucky.

The children's mother, who was busy cleaning the house, happened to just stepped out of the house when the shooting happened.

"She said no more than three minutes had went by and she actually heard the rifle go off. She ran back in and found the little girl," Gary White, Cumberland County Coroner, told WKYT news.

The mother said the rifle was kept in the corner of a room, sitting against a wall. The boy apparently picked it up to play with it, but didn't realise it still contained a shell.

"It's a Crickett," Mr White told the Lexington Herald-Leader. "It's a little rifle for a kid. ...The little boy's used to shooting the little gun" because he joins his father in the latter's hunting sprees.

Little Caroline was rushed to Cumberland County Hospital, where she was later pronounced dead.

An autopsy has been scheduled for Wednesday. Results will be out in a week.

Mr White it is likely the death would be ruled accidental.

"Just one of those crazy accidents," he said.

The Crickett is just one of many child-sized rifles being sold on the US market, with the tag line 'My First Rifle.'

It comes in a number of child-friendly barrel designs and colours, including hot pink for little girls. Also available are a host of accessories, including story books and a gun-toting beanie baby of the rifle's mascot, a cartoonish cricket.

"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," Mr White said. What is more unusual than a child having a gun, he said, is "that a kid would get shot with it."

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