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Accidental child shooting in Kentucky sparks gun debate

BURKESVILLE, Ky. (AP) — As Stephanie Sparks cleaned the kitchen, her 5-year-old son, Kristian, began playing with a rifle he was given last year. She stepped out onto the front porch, poured grease out of a frying pan for the dogs and "heard the gun go off," a Kentucky coroner said.

Authorities said the boy had fatally shot his 2-year-old sister, Caroline, in the chest.

In rural southern Kentucky, far removed from the national debate over gun control, where some children get their first guns even before they start first grade, the accident stunned the community.

Kristian's rifle was kept in a corner of the mobile home, and the family didn't realize a bullet had been left in it, Cumberland County Coroner Gary White said.

"Down in Kentucky where we're from, you know, guns are passed down from generation to generation," White said. "You start at a young age with guns for hunting and everything."

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

In this case, the rifle was made by a company that sells guns specifically for children — "My first rifle" is the slogan — in colors ranging from plain brown to hot pink to royal blue to multi-color swirls.

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