Young guns: where pretty pink rifles are child's play for America's shooting stars
THE faithful of the National Rifle Association (NRA) were not about to be knocked from gun-owning righteousness by the news, even if it did involve a little Kentucky boy killing his two-year-old sister with a gun made for children.
"I don't see a problem with that," said Angela Armstrong, from Ohio, when asked about Keystone Sporting Arms, which makes guns for minors.
It was their .22 Crickett that fired the bullet that killed the little girl.
"They are not toys," said Ms Amstrong. "You have to be a responsible owner."
Even so, it may be hard for the leadership of the NRA, fresh from derailing efforts to pass new gun-control laws in the wake of the Newtown Elementary School massacre, to ignore the fallout from this latest tragedy.
The incident is certain to galvanise the hundreds of pro-gun control protesters expected in Houston, Texas, for the NRA's three-day annual convention, which began yesterday.
Keystone makes Crickett and Chipmunk rifles for children, including pretty pink ones for girls. It was a Crickett that Kristian Sparks (5) shot his sister with on Tuesday.
Keystone's owners, Bill and Steve McNeal, first encountered a child's rifle when they were approached at a sale by a man carrying a .22 Chipmunk. Having tried to buy some of the guns, the McNeals were instead offered the company. When the sale fell through they decided to make their own, and eventually acquired the firm behind the Chipmunk. Now Keystone sells 60,000 children's rifles a year.
An NRA member from Pennsylvania seemed offended by the notion there might be something wrong with marketing weapons for children.
"It's a guardian issue," he said. "If the parents were doing their jobs, this wouldn't have happened."
But for "Occupy the NRA", which will hold a rally today across the road from the convention, the deaths of children is the first reason why gun controls must be tightened. They will begin the protest by reading out the names of all those killed in Newtown as well as those of 4,000 other gun-violence victims.