On Tuesday, inside a rural Kentucky home, a five-year-old boy accidentally shot and killed his two-year-old sister. The boy had been playing with a .22 caliber single-shot Crickett rifle made and marketed for kids. The children's mother was reportedly outside the house when the shooting took place, and apparently didn't know that the gun contained a shell.
"Just one of those crazy accidents," said the Cumberland County coroner, according to theLexington Herald-Leader.
Clearly the issue of parental responsibility is at the center of this tragedy. But against the backdrop of the Newtown massacre and ongoing national debate over regulating firearms, it also points back to the big business of guns—including how the industry profits from products aimed at children.
The Pennsylvania-based maker of Crickett rifles, Keystone Sporting Arms, markets its guns with the slogan "My First Rifle." They are available with different barrel and stock designs, including some made in hot pink to appeal to young girls.
Business has boomed since the company's inception in 1996, according to its website*. In its first year, it had four employees and produced 4,000 rifles for kids; by 2008 it had greatly expanded its operations, with 70 employees and an output of 60,000 rifles a year. KSA's site states that its goal is "to instill gun safety in the minds of youth shooters and encourage them to gain the knowledge and respect that hunting and shooting activities require and deserve."