Bob Owens

The saddest truth in politics is that people get the leaders they deserve

KY toddler killed by 5-year-old brother with his unsecured rifle

Written By: Bob - May• 01•13

Firearms aren’t toys, and when adults don’t treat them with the respect due them, senseless tragedies like this happen:

Authorities in southern Kentucky say a 2-year-old girl has been accidentally shot and killed by her 5-year-old brother, who was playing with a .22-caliber rifle he received as a gift.

Kentucky State Police said the toddler, identified as Caroline Starks, was shot just after 1pm CDT on Tuesday in Burkesville and was taken to a nearby hospital, where she was later pronounced dead.

Cumberland County Coroner Gary White told the Lexington Herald-Leader that the children’s mother was at home at the time.

Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.

I find that I lack the vocabulary to convey my frustration, sorrow, and anger over this turn of events. Caroline Starks had her life snuffed out before it even began. Her unnamed brother, himself not even school-aged, is going to have to live with the knowledge that he shot and killed his little sister. Can you imagine the trauma and anguish that will haunt him the rest of his life?

This is directly the result of negligent parenting, and you have to wonder what other sort of lethal threats these children faced before a loaded gun left in the corner of the home became the implement that took a life.

Incredibly, charges are not likely to be filed, even though this is clearly a negligent homicide.

Short of a mechanical malfunction, there are precious few gun accidents. The parents should face time in prison.

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  1. Phelps says:

    To head off the obvious comments, yes, a rifle is an appropriate gift for a five year old, depending on the five year old. It is NEVER appropriate to let that child “play” with the gift, or even handle it off of a range or the cleaning bench.

    • Spud says:

      My ass ! A BB gun is appropriate for a five year old. Perhaps a 22 after they are proven to be competent later. Both with supervision !

    • Real Deal says:

      I’m with Spud on this one. I had a BB gun at 6, got a rifle at 7. I only had access to the BB Gun, all other firearms were kept in a safe which I did not have access to. All use was supervised, and I was taught gun safety from before I ever touched a firearm or even the BB gun.

      So Phelps my experience is close to what you post but I’d never give a 5 year old a firearm.

  2. Chris Mallory says:

    They lost their daughter, there is no reason what so ever to file charges. Charges are filed in too many cases as it is, just so a government employee can make a name come election time.

    • Bob says:

      They are DIRECTLY responsible for the death of one child and the mental scarring of another. Explain to me, using logic, why someone enabling a negligent homicide should not be charged for the death they caused.

      • Chuck says:

        Imprison them so the surviving child can become a ward of the state. Yeah, great idea, Bob.

        I find this as heartbreaking as you do, and clearly the parents were negligent, but what possible good can come of adding to this tragedy by putting the parents in jail?

      • Bob says:

        The possibility that the five year old won’t himself suffer abuse or die due to more parental negligence?

      • Real Deal says:

        This one really depends on the parents IMO. Was this part of a pattern of neglect/abuse or just the worst end to a single boneheaded incident?

        While I don’t have kids I know parents screw up from time to time. Those screw ups can lead to severe harm or even death of a child if they are not lucky.

        How many parents have lost a child in the store? Most of the time the child turns up, but occasionally the child disappears. Would you prosecute those parents for the death/dissappearance of the child?

        The area sounds rather poor, so perhaps the family could not afford a gun cabinet/safe. That they are responsible is without question, whether further punishment is needed would need to be determined. Did they routinely neglect gun safety or did Dad get distracted before he was supposed to check the rifle and forget?

  3. Jeff Hoser says:

    Sad to say, Mr. Owen, your proposed “solution” only compounds the “tragedy” !

    Why do so many self-professed “independent patriots” seem so ready to turn turn to government when one of “their own” screws up ? In the interdependent society (they claim to espouse), such an action would be dealt with on a community/social level.

    Even in the U.S. parents lose children every day . We all grieve, but some of us also deal with our associate personal failures, too. BTDT. Don’t be so ready to cast stones. >MW

  4. Klingonwork says:

    Disagree Phelps…giving a firearm to a 5 yr old? NEVER appropriate. How about a bike? A baseball glove? Leggos?

    I am a staunch advocate of the 2nd amendment, without it the rest are meaningless, but a gun to a 5 yr old…that is just plain stupid (unless you are Carl on “the walking dead”)…wait make that a capitol S. A 5 year cant appreciate the need to look both ways when crossing the street, boiling water on the stove, nor the lethality of a gun.

    The parents should go to jail for sheer stupidity.

    Molon Labe

    • Big Country says:

      Completeley agree +1

    • Chuck says:

      My dad “gave” me a single shot .22 when I was 5 yrs old. It was “my” gun, which was a big deal to me. But I didn’t have actual physical possession of it as I was only allowed to handle it when he took me out to shoot.

      This has nothing to do with giving a child a gun at 5 yrs old and everything to do with leaving a firearm, any firearm, unsecured with children around.

      • Klingonwork says:

        As I said, how can a 5 yr old appreciate the lethality of a gun? He can’t, and neither could you truth be told. Secondly, what is the point of giving something to someone they cannot appreciate the value of one way or another?

        Your dad was smart though in not letting you, a 5 yr old, not take possession and locking it away from you. Most kids when they’re 6 or 7 were still playing cowboys and Indians, and the potential to cause harm by using “my” gun is significant.

        There are always exceptions to the rule, and in the case of firearms you will usually find them in rural areas where folks appreciate it for what it is and common sense is, well, more common. I was brought up around firearms as my son was and had I given him a gun, for whatever reason, before he could appreciate the values…his mother would still be trying to get her boot outta my arse.

        But a gun to a child? A pre-schooler? Come on my friend…just plain Stupid. You will never convince me giving a weapon to a toddler is OK regardless of moral code OR the 2nd amendment…but when your son becomes smart enough to appreciate that value, I will stand beside the both of you and defend to the death your right to own one.

        Molon Labe

      • Chuck says:

        Notice I didn’t say allowing him to have actual physical possession of the gun was okay. That’s just negligence. Pure stupid idiotic negligence.

        When I said my dad “gave” me a gun I put the quotes around it for a reason. It was a symbolic gesture on his part to begin to impart a sense of ownership and responsibility on my part. He bought it, he kept control of it, and I only got to shoot it under his direct supervision, but in my mind, it was “my gun.”

        In no way, did I ever say it was okay in any sense to give a 5 yr old unsupervised physical possession of ANY gun, whether it’s an air gun or a .22.

  5. Cole says:

    Agreed. This goes beyond accidental and the parents should be brought to trial. Let a jury decide. The parents were negligent and their grief doesn’t discharge that. They had a responsibility as parents and gun owners. They neglected those obligations and a child is dead.

    As to children and guns? Age is irrelevant. Maturity is everything. I’ve known kids at age 5 I’d trust with firearms and guys at 50 I wouldn’t. This particular kid didn’t have the maturity to own a gun. Neither did his parents.

  6. Stel says:

    Sorry, a red ryder BB gun would have been correct for a kid that age. Gifting a 5 year old a 22. rifle is just some moron’s way of buying a 22. as an excuse. The bb gun would have been a good test of the child’s level of maturity and the way to teach safety and proper gun handling. Instead, another tragic situation that will be used by the anti-gunners to take firearms out of the hands of everyone.


    • Kevin J Kehoe says:

      I agree, BB’ gun only and Only when the Parents were around and in charge, and as far as punishing the Parents, Unless they have a history Keep the Govt. OUT.

      Last thing we need. On the Other hand if the Govt pays the Whole boat you might have a point and they might have some say.

      I feel you are preaching to the Choir or CYA on this one but if I am wrong feel free bob and you know what I think.

      Time for Revolutionary WAR required by our Declaration, this is only a sideshow to the violence to come.

      Pray for them all especially the Brother, the Child is safe from what is to come , the brother is not as are the Parents.

    • dontduckwithme says:

      i have to agree with you there.

      in colonial times it may have been appropriate for a 5yr old to own a weapon, but today’s maturity level of children is not the same. (notice I did not say, to “handle a weapon” – I think it depends upon the child)

      Today, we coddle and don’t allow children to have any responsibility; except of course the obvious hypocrisy of sexualizing them.

      • RuralGal says:

        Confused here. The “gifting” was not the issue – the “unsecured nature” of the Rifle was. Our Children were gifted with the very same Rifle at the very same age (Cricket), but it would have taken a special kind of stupid for us to leave it loaded in a corner.

        We taught them to respect, clean and appropriately store their unloaded Rifles in an appropriate manner. At age 5. Why? Because responsibility is initially taught at a young age and no Human willingly assumes that mantle unless properly shown how.

        With not enough information as to the Family situation, I cannot jump on either side of the punishment issue. This in all honesty has been picked up by the MSM because it is a tear jerker. Put a little baby face on death with a sensational title and draw more of the anti’s out.

        Don’t be suckered into an argument that will be designed to divide.

        Love your Kids if you’ve got them and Gun Proof them/those they are in contact with.

      • Chuck says:


        Spot on, ma’am. Your post is the most cogent and rational so far.

  7. Scott B says:

    Negligent, stupid, irresponsible – I agree, and more so – but criminal?
    They will have to live with this tragedy for the rest of their lives. What purpose would be achieved by a prison sentence? What kind of criminal would you release in order to free up cell space?
    Meanwhile thousands of abortionists remain free to ply their bloody trade.

    • Michael says:

      “What kind of criminal would you release in order to free up cell space?”

      Someone in prison for marijuana cultivation and possession.

      • Real Deal says:

        How about a shop lifter? Drunk/high driver? Doctor writing illegal perscriptions? Oh wait I know! An “undocumented” identity theif!

        Breaking the law is breaking the law whether you agree with that particular law or not.

        And I know pot smokers disagree but pot is not and never will be a harmless drug. EVERYTHING has consequences and those consequences almost always are not paid for by just Smokey McPottoker.

      • lineman says:

        @RD Do you not believe in Rightful Liberty then?

  8. parker says:

    I’m an old farm boy. Guns were a part of family life as my siblings and I were growing up. Our parents hammered gun safety into our heads from the time we were 3. We received our hands on training at age 6. I bought my own 22LR rifle at age 10 with chore money. It costed $19.98 and was delivered to the house by the USPS. I took it to school (on the bus) once a month and stored it in the cloak room along with a box of ammo, for marksmanship classes at age 10. None of my peers at the time would have ever pointed a gun at anyone, let alone pulled the trigger. That was rural society in America 60 years ago. The America of my youth has been severely corrupted and it may be beyond repair. Weep for Caroline, she deserved better. Weep for her unnamed brother, he deserved better.

    • Klingonwork says:

      My point exactly to Chuck above, but you said it a little better.

      In rural areas AND 60 yrs ago life was different. Firearms were part of the rural culture and necessary if not mandatory tool just like a shovel or a hammer. My son being brought up around guns, knew there were areas in the house he dared not tread. Thanking God above he was more afraid of me than anything else even the cops until he left the house and gave me the darn handsomest grandson ever born. Today we could not be closer, we’re a team and still best buddies ever.

      As I said too…exceptions. Sounds like your parents did a great job teaching you the values and lethality of that .22…I would have liked to have met them.

      Also like what you said about America corrupted…Uncle Sam is a sick, dying old man gasping on his death bed. Too many health problems to list here, but you can imagine how disappointed JC when He has blessed us so very much.

      Pray for the son and the parents, they really need it right now.

      Molon Labe

  9. OpenTheDoor says:

    A .22 to a five year old, and to think, they take your kids away for spanking/disciplining them.

  10. Mark says:

    Which is why all children need to be gun proofed and personally I think everyone who owns firearms should have some type of gun safe. Proper storage could have prevented this. And while I do have several firearms outside of the gunsafe, my kids KNOW they aren’t toys. If they want to shoot they have their BB guns and Airsoft guns. I have specific targets setup for them to shoot. My kids are gun proofed, everyone’s kids should be.

  11. Ethan says:

    In what kind of world we living. I am sick and tired of it all.
    No respect. Reckless.

    Lost for words.

    I agree with the article author 100%