A three-year-old child fatally shot her four-year-old sister on Sunday after finding a loaded gun at home in the Texas city of Houston, United States of America. The gun was fired “accidentally,” according to Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez.
The two children were in one of the rooms in the apartment where they lived with their parents. There were five adults in the room, all family members or friends, but in different rooms. The sisters were left unsupervised – one parent thought the other was looking after the daughters, and vice versa. One of them found the loaded pistol and fired a single shot.
“The three-year-old gained access to a loaded semi-automatic pistol. Family members heard a single shot. They ran into the room and found the four-year-old unresponsive,” Gonzalez said in Press conferencedescribing the situation as “tragic” and “avoidable”.
The sheriff added that the shooting victim was pronounced dead at the scene of the incident, upon the arrival of emergency teams.
“”It just seems like another tragic story of, yet again, a child gaining access to a firearm and injuring another person, and this time there was a fatal shot,” said Ed Gonzalez.
The agent added that the Harris County Attorney’s Office is yet to decide whether any of the adults present at the home will be brought to justice, based on an investigation that is still in the preliminary stages.
This is not an unprecedented situation in the United States. There are several cases of children with access to loaded guns who end up shooting family members by accident, sometimes with legal repercussions for the responsible adults. In January 2023, the grandfather of a three-year-old boy was charged after his grandson fatally shot another four-year-old child.
Firearms are the leading cause of death for young Americans. According to data released by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), firearms surpassed, in 2020, traffic accidents, and with a growing trend, in the cause of death of North American children and adolescents until at age 19.
That year, 4368 children under the age of 19 died from injuries caused by a firearm.
the activist group Everytown for Gun Safety estimates that this year there have been at least 58 accidental gunshots by children in the United States, resulting in 22 deaths and 37 injuries.
According to the US organization Gun Violence Archivethe United States has already totaled 47 deaths and 113 children up to 11 years of age injured due to gunshots.