A three-year-old girl has shot dead her four-year-old sister with a semi-automatic pistol in the latest gun-related tragedy to shock the US.
The incident is a stark reminder of the escalating number of deaths linked to guns around the country, with 17 mass shootings recorded in March and 109 in 2023 alone.
It is also another shocking example of children under the age of seven firing a weapon, with the most high-profile case involving a six-year-old who shot his elementary school teacher in January.
The sisters were playing unsupervised in the bedroom of an apartment in Houston, Texas at around 7.30pm on Sunday and five adults were in the premises at the time, police said.
Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez described the situation as “very preventable”.
“The three-year-old gained access to a loaded, semi-automatic pistol. Family members heard a single gunshot. They ran into the room and found the small toddler, four years old, unresponsive,” he said.
Arriving emergency services pronounced the youngster dead at the scene, Gonzalez told reporters.
“It just seems like another tragic story of, again, a child gaining access to a firearm and hurting someone else and this time there was a fatal shot,” Gonzalez said.
He said the Harris County District Attorney’s Office would decide whether to press charges against the adults based on a police investigation. No one had been charged at this time.
“Our hearts are broken. Our deputies are pretty shaken up,” Gonzalez said. Support personnel would be at the scene to support police officers as well as family members.
“We continue to send the message that this is very preventable,” Gonzalez added.
“You’ve got to be sure you’re being a responsible gun owner, securing your weapons in a safe place. It’s got to be more than just telling young kids not to touch the weapons.
“You know, we’ve got to do a little more. We see far too many tragic situations like this unfold.”
According to the American non-profit organisation lobbying for gun control Everytown for Gun Safety there have been 58 unintentional shootings by children in the US in 2023 alone. Of those 58, 37 resulted in injuries while 22 resulted in death.
There were at least 353 unintentional shootings by children last year resulting in 156 deaths and 212 injuries, according to the group’s website.
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*This story has not been edited by The Infallible staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.