She was active and outgoing and vivacious and adventurous, skateboarding and going to the mall and hiking and riding horses.
And she was but 13 years of age.
She was shot dead on Halloween in her Grovetown home – not the victim of foul play, but of foolish play: Authorities say a 14-year-old friend was playing with a 12-gauge shotgun he’d found while Burnette and several friends were “hanging out” in her home.
The boy, whose name hasn’t been released, is charged with involuntary manslaughter. God be with the boy.
Shotguns, according to one Internet article, are a popular selection for home defense. According to authorities, Kristen’s stepfather was deployed in Afghanistan at the time of the shooting.
“The general consensus in the firearms community is that the pump action shotgun is the top choice for home defense,” the article says, noting its ease of operation, reliability and intimidating pump-action sound. Nor does one need to be a marksman to hit a target.
“At close range and with proper ammunition, shotguns can be extremely effective in defending you and your loved ones.”
One can see why a homeowner would want one around.
The tragedy of this case, and too many others, is when someone else other than the homeowner gets hold of the gun, especially a child or adolescent who may not be trained in firearm safety or otherwise aware of the dangers of playing with a gun.
We feel horrible for the families of both of these youths. They are all in our prayers. And we hope Kristen’s story can serve as a cautionary tale for anyone with either a firearm or a child: The former must be safely stored at all times, and the latter must be educated in its handling – or, in the alternative, the wisdom of staying away from it.
This is one – very real – Halloween story that, if it scares enough people, could save lives.