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On prosecuting gun-owning parents when children accidentally shoot and kill

A boy under his parents' supervision, aims a shotgun.
A boy under his parents' supervision, aims a shotgun.
Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images

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In Arkansas this November, within about a week of each other, two unintentional self-inflicted firearm deaths occurred at the hands of a two and six year old.

Six-year-old Eron Burks found a loaded gun on the floor of the car his aunt was driving and shot himself in the face. His aunt has been charged with manslaughter.

A 2-year-old got his hands on a gun in his uncle’s home and shot himself in the head. His parents have been charged with manslaughter.

However, in South Carolina, a 24 year-old great aunt was charged with unlawfully carrying a pistol when her nephew shot his grandmother, not fatally, in the back after finding a gun in the pocket of the passenger seat in the car they were all driving in.


Michael Gmoser, the prosecutor for Butler County, Ohio

Adam Winkler, Professor of Law at UCLA. He tweets at @AdamWinkler

Dahlia Lithwick, Senior Legal Editor for Slate