Three-year-old Texas girl kills sister in accidental shooting

A three-year-old girl fatally wounded her four-year-old sister in an unintentional shooting in the US state of Texas, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said.

Calling the incident “tragic” but “very preventable”, the sheriff said a group of family and friends — five adults and the two children — were hanging out inside a Houston apartment on Sunday.

At one point, the children were unsupervised in a bedroom because each parent thought the other was watching them, he said.

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez speaks to the media after a three-year-old shot a four-year-old in Houston on Sunday, March 12, 2023. (Image from video: Harris County Sheriff’s Office Texas) (Harris County Sheriff’s Office Texas)

“This basically involves a three-year-old and a four-year-old,” Gonzalez said.

“The three-year-old is the alleged shooter. It appears to be unintentional.”

The three-year-old got hold of a loaded semiautomatic pistol, Gonzalez said. The family heard a gunshot and ran into the room, where they found the four-year-old girl unresponsive on the floor.

“It just seems like another tragic story of another child gaining access to a firearm and hurting someone else,” Gonzalez said.

The sheriff said the investigation is ongoing and noted that, in situations like this, it is “very likely” someone faces charges for failing to secure the weapon.

The shooting is just the latest instance of a child using an unsecured firearm and causing tragedy.

There were at least 2070 unintentional shootings by children under 18 years old between 2015 and 2020, resulting in 765 deaths and 1366 injuries, according to data compiled by Everytown Research & Policy, the research arm of the group that advocates for gun control and against gun violence.

About 39 per cent involved a shooter nine years old or younger, the non-profit said.

Firearm-related injury recently surpassed motor vehicle crashes to become the leading cause of death among people one to 19 years old in the US, according to a 2022 paper published in The New England Journal of Medicine. In that, the US stands alone among world powers.

The American Academy of Paediatrics recommends gun owners keep their firearms locked up and unloaded, with ammo locked in a separate safe.

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