Parents duel over whether girl should shoot BB gun
California judge to decide if 5-year-old is too young
From Correspondent Jennifer Auther
LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- Two divorced California parents are dueling in court over whether their 5-year-old daughter should be taught to shoot a BB gun.
Nicole Fetter's father, Rodney, wants to train her how to shoot a Daisy Red Ryder BB gun. Her mother, Susan, is adamantly opposed to the idea, and she went to court to get a restraining order to prevent her ex-husband from letting the little girl shoot.
"I fear for her safety," says Susan Fetter. "She's my baby."
California law leaves it up to parents, or a legal guardian, to decide when, or if, a child learns to use a gun. With the Fetters in disagreement on this issue, a family court judge is set to make a final decision in June.
Rodney Fetter contends he's only passing along a family tradition. His grandfather was a gunsmith, and he, like his father, loves to hunt.
"It's in my life, and it always has been," he says. "I want to give her the opportunity to handle a gun, and it will make her safer too."
But Susan Fetter says Nicole's age is the key issue.
"She's only 5 years old, and she has no reasoning power to even [learn] about that right now," she says. "She's not ready for that. No 5-year-old would be."
An advertisement for the type of BB gun that Rodney Fetter wants to teach his daughter to use recommends it for people aged 10 to 100.
Outside advocates on both sides of the gun issue also have different takes on the parents' battle.
"There were 1,400 gun deaths in Los Angeles County alone; 236 of those gun deaths involved children; five of those children were 9 years old or younger," says Susan Shaw of Women Against Gun Violence.
"Every time that a child gets hurt with a gun, that's a tragedy. But the statistics show that if a child is introduced and taught to safely handle a gun by a parent, then the gun accident rate goes down as a result," says Chuck Michel of the California Rifle and Pistol Association. "That just makes common sense."
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