A six-year-old girl from Georgia is dead after she shot herself with her father’s handgun, which she found tucked in the cushions of a sofa. The girl was found dead inside an Atlanta apartment early Saturday morning. Her father, 25-year-old Demarqo Smith, briefly fled the home after the incident but returned to speak with the police. At least four other children and one other adult were present in the home at the time of the shooting, police said.
Reports The Washington Post on Nov. 30: “Ja’Mecca Smith was the youngest of seven children, the baby of the family. She loved tic-tac-toe and the Disney movie ‘Frozen’ and the color red. She was a member of the first grade honor roll, a cheerful little girl with a sense of humor and a gap-toothed smile.”
Smith was arrested and charged with involuntary manslaughter and reckless conduct. He remains in Fulton County Jail and is scheduled to appear in court today. Investigators think the gun fell out of Smith’s pants while he sat on the sofa.
Ja’Mecca’s mother, Kate Milling, spoke to WALB.com about the accidental shooting. “Right now my life is in shambles. It’s hard and it hurts. I lost my baby girl and I’m upset,” the distraught Milling said. “I know my baby was loved, my baby was loved and everybody showing love and I appreciate it cause I need it.”
Speaking of Smith, friend Yakita Daniels said: “He really loved his child and he’s really hurting, too. A piece of him is gone, too. It was a harsh accident but it was an honest accident.”
At least four Georgia children have been killed in similar accidental shootings in just over a five-week period. Earlier this month, two-year-old Jayden Jamar Clay was killed in Butts County after finding a gun that belonged to the boyfriend of his mother. In late October, another two-year-old boy, from Acworth, Ga. found a loaded gun on the bed and fatally shot himself.
Viviana Goldenberg, a member of the Georgia chapter of Moms Demand Action, spoke to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution shortly after Jayden’s death. “The fact that a child got a gun isn’t an accident, that’s negligence,” she said. “It’s literally terrifying, and this is happening all over the country. There is no gun owner responsibility. They’re not thinking of what measures to do to prevent access of the children to the gun.”
The advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety, said that between December 2012 to December 2013, “at least 100 children were killed in unintentional shootings — almost two each week.” The group also found that “two-thirds of these unintended deaths — 65 percent — took place in a home or vehicle that belonged to the victim’s family, most often with guns that were legally owned but not secured.”
Adds the Post: “The National Rifle Association, which opposes mandatory storage and trigger lock legislation, argues that education and training has brought down the number of fatal accidents.”
NRA spokeswoman Jennifer Baker spoke in August about recent legislation in Los Angeles that has mandated that handguns be locked up inside a home or else disabled from being able to be instantly fired. “So-called safe storage laws have nothing to do with safety, they merely serve as a tool for gun control politicians to disarm law-abiding gun owners,” Baker the L.A. Times.