4-Year-Old Shoots 6-Year-Old: Why Did NJ Toddler Have A Rifle?

By Philip Ross on April 10, 2013 10:29 AM EDT

rifle
A 4-year-old accidentally shot and killed a 6-year-old Monday night in New Jersey with a .22-caliber rifle. (Photo: Flickr/Willie Lunchmeat)

A 4-year-old shot a 6-year-old Monday night in a quiet neighborhood in Ocean County, New Jersey. 6-year-old Brandon Holt was confirmed dead at 5 p.m. EST. The incident looks like a terrible accident, and prosecutors have yet to charge anyone in the case. The 4-year-old toddler's name has not been released.

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"I'm sad for the children involved and their families, but I'm angry with whoever owns that gun and allowed a little child to get hold of it. A 4-year-old can't load a gun," Debi Coto, a neighbor, told ABC Local News.

Prosecutor Joseph Coronato said at a news conference early Tuesday that the 4-year-old boy who accidentally shot his playmate got ahold of the .22-caliber rifle from his home. The boys were about 15 yards apart when the gun went off and hit 6-year-old Holt in the head. According to Coronato, the mother of the younger boy called 911 to report the shooting.

There is no federal law that addresses the matter of minors accessing firearms, but 27 states, including New Jersey, have their own laws on the topic. The Christian Post reports that gun owners in New Jersey can be held criminally liable if their firearms end up in the hands of minors. Unfortunately, authorities are often slow to charge adults involved in cases like the one that took place Monday, on the grounds that the family has suffered enough already.

Some gun regulation advocates find fault with this kind of clemency, however. "If an adult left a gun around that a 4-year-old got to, that person should be charged for breaking the law," Bryan Miller, executive director of Philadelphia-based Heeding God's Call, told The Daily Journal.

News of the 4-year-old who shot his 6-year-old playmate comes just as congress is about to vote on new gun regulations on Thursday. The bill would increase penalties for illegal gun purchase and make background checks more stringent on gun buyers - but the bill needs 60 votes in the Senate to even be considered.  

According to the New York Times, it would be the first major gun control bill since 1993.

"The American people deserve a vote on this legislation," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Tuesday.

Conservatives, however, have threatened to filibuster the bill, although it looks like that effort is fading out.

Read more from iScience Times:

Cleaning Gun Son Killed: Christopher Stanlane Shoots His Son In Back Of Head While Wiping Down His Weapon [VIDEO]

Bin Laden Shooter Dispute: Who's The Real American Hero?

Obama BB Gun: Why Did Homeless Man Joseph Stravinskas Shoot His Rifle Near Obama? [VIDEO]

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