Mother Mistakes Small Gun for Cigarette Lighter, Daughter Wounded

Rachel Avila, 30, of Banning, thought the .22-caliber North American Arms "derringer style" revolver was a cigarette lighter, police said. She pulled the trigger twice, the second time the gun fired, and the round ricocheted off the ground.

A 12-year-old girl was wounded by a ricocheting bullet Sunday evening in Banning, when her mother fired a tiny pistol she mistook for a cigarette lighter, police said.

Banning police described the incident as an accidental shooting. A photo of the revolver was released Wednesday by Banning police.

A "juvenile gunshot victim" was reported about 5:40 p.m. Sunday and officers responded to the emergency room at San Gorgonio Memorial Hospital, Banning police said in a statement.

Rachel Avila, 30, told police she and her 12-year-old daughter, both of Banning, were talking with friends in front of their mobile home in the 100 block of North Phillips Avenue when Avila found what she thought was a novelty cigarette lighter, police said.

The lighter resembled a miniature firearm and it was lying on the ground, Avila told police.

 Avila picked it up and tried to light it by pulling the trigger, police said.

The first time Avila pulled the trigger, nothing happened. The second time she pulled the trigger, a .22-caliber bullet was fired, police said.

"The bullet struck the ground, and then ricocheted upward and entered her daughter’s upper right arm," the police statement said.

The girl was taken to San Gorgonio Memorial, where she was treated and released, police said.

The weapon Avila said resembled a cigarette lighter was identified as a North American Arms .22-caliber "derringer style" revolver, police said.

Derringers are among the smallest, potentially deadly handguns made.

The case remained under investigation late Tuesday, police said.

The police department advised caution to anyone who finds an object resembling a firearm or a suspicious device.

"Do not handle the object and call local law enforcement for assistance," Banning police said.

Sgt. Alex Diaz said, "We're tying to find out who the gun belongs to, so we're looking into that. At this point it is considered an accident."

Diaz urged anyone with information about the gun to contact the Banning police Detective Bureau at (951) 849-1194.

Pam July 27, 2011 at 11:16 PM
sorry but........ Trailer.....found "lighter" sigh...aren't we a civilized society...so PROUD!
Ashley Butler July 27, 2011 at 11:19 PM
I have seen lighters, and squirt guns that look just like a real gun, they get to careless with what they make things look like today.
Seleste Sabatino July 28, 2011 at 12:24 AM
SOME people are just plain stupid? Unfortunately it is becoming the MAJORITY of people. Look at her age... sad. I'm going to put up a billboard that says: For a whole NEW level of stupidity, come to the PASS... LOL
Angela D Holliday July 28, 2011 at 12:27 AM
Yeah I was thinking that it looks nothing like a lighter, but hey, brains optional.
Cosmo July 28, 2011 at 12:32 AM
Wow....It's amazing how stupid people are becoming. How can mistake this gun for a lighter? As Jimbo said, its a single action and you have to pull the hammer back to shoot. And not once, but TWICE?? I agree with Jimbo, something else is going on here.
Angela D Holliday July 28, 2011 at 12:36 AM
Well at least she aimed it at the ground, and the little girl wasn't killed. I just don't understand. Pick up a gun and just start pulling the trigger?! Not to mention a gun is heavier than a lighter!
Linda Gillett July 28, 2011 at 12:38 AM
I own a 22 and a 22mag north american arms they look nothing like a lighter and any adult exspecially law officers should know that the hammer has to be pulled back before firing what was that mom drinking or taking that child needs on where near that mom
AlwaysAlexia July 28, 2011 at 01:21 AM
A 22 north american snub is about 3 inches in size aand yesa.. they do make lighter identical in appearance and feel/... I owned a 22 north american( also snub nose).. also dubbed a bowtie gun, garter gun , and lady gun( they sell em all pretty and colorful to appeal to woman who want security from carrying protection)... It is extremely small and does look like a "toy" or novelty.. its actual range of accuracy sucks, anything over 15 ft away.. the aim is off as the bullet drops.. its very low caliber. There have been 100's of accidents do to this gun.. This isn't the first time it was mistaken for a toy or lighter.. I feel bad for both the victims ( mother n 12 yr old.). it isn't their fault someone wasn't a responcible gun owner.. Those of you who want to act like you know yr guns.. do some research.. there are alot of look alikes...
nicole July 28, 2011 at 01:25 AM
my question is why was there a gun in her trailer and whose was it?
Joe Papierz Jr July 28, 2011 at 01:29 AM
This has to be the dumbest woman in the trailer park and maybe in that whole city. That pistol doesn't look like a cigarette lighter at all. The daughter is lucky to be alive.
Mariana Zuelsdorf July 28, 2011 at 01:42 AM
Thank goodness the mother pointed it at the ground. That little girl could be dead. If you find something that looks like a gun, assume it is and call the police! Incomplete story tho; where did the gun come from originally?
Joe Papierz Jr July 28, 2011 at 02:01 AM
You asked an exellent question and your advice about what to do with a "found" gun is really good. There is not only the safety issue but she might have tainted important evidence in a crime scene.
Carol July 28, 2011 at 02:22 AM
Glad the daughter is ok...but sorry, how stupid is this woman? Why did she havea gun handy?
B July 28, 2011 at 02:30 AM
Why was she aiming it at the ground if she thought it was a lighter? What was she lighting? If it was a barbecue or a fireplace or something, she probably would have been using the special, long lighters that are made for that, not a novelty lighter. If she was lighting a cigarette or cigar or a j or pretty much anything else, it would have been pointed toward the ceiling or her face. Someone's lying here. And also, why is there a gun she apparently doesn't know anything about just lying about the house? Sounds like child abuse and she's telling stories to cover her tracks.
Sarah Berman July 28, 2011 at 02:46 AM
That's a rather classist, grossly generalizing statement. A civilized society cares about all of its citizens, even the poor. And to assume a trailer qualifies everyone living in one is poor, then you may be materialistic. Its more worrisome the pervasive beliefs that a single individual can have than a lapse of judgment..
Kady July 28, 2011 at 03:03 AM
What idiot would look at something that resembles a gun and think, "Hmmm...it must be a lighter..."? If it looks AT ALL like a gun, assume it's a gun and a loaded one at that! Guns are not the problem. Uneducated people are.
Cheryl Tippett July 28, 2011 at 03:06 AM
Actually they article said they were standing in fron of the mobile home.....Which would imply they were OUTSIDE.......so the gun was not found in her trailer....
Cheryl Tippett July 28, 2011 at 03:07 AM
Actually those guns are not as big as the picture makes it look...you can actually palm one, without it being very visible.....
Cheryl Tippett July 28, 2011 at 03:08 AM
do you some of you even read the whole article before commenting.,.....IT says she found the gun in which she thought was a lighter on the ground in front of her home....
mdonnarmc July 28, 2011 at 03:14 AM
I have a gun lighter collection and many of my lighters look like real guns - especially my derringers. So I can see how this kind of mistake can be made. Besides, who would think that a real gun was just laying there on the ground? Also, if she was trying to shoot her daughter on purpose, I would think the 12 yr old would have been more seriously hurt. Come on people, not every act is intentional. There are such things as accidents.
Alan C Rhine July 28, 2011 at 03:28 AM
NOT BUYING IT !!!!! More to this tale them Mom is telling
LyrissaX3 July 28, 2011 at 05:19 AM
OK you all are so rude i mean i think its sad what happened and i also she could have been lighting it at an angle because it was windy and her daughter was far enough so when it hit it bounced up at her. Half of you didn't even read the article she said she you found it on the ground NOT IN HER HOUSE, and i have seen so many of those lighters that look like guns and some of them you do have to pull back the hammer before you pull the trigger just like the long lighter where u have to push a button before you pull the trigger... You are all so quick to judge none of us were there so stop assuming the worse and stop commenting that she lives in a trailer unless your rich then you could very well end up in one some day! Again like the article said if u find something that looks like a gun report it!
Terry Batko July 28, 2011 at 05:54 AM
hey, that crack pipe isnt gonna light itself ya know, i agree with the majority it is a single action firearm, how dumb ya gotta be if it obviously didnt light the first time give it another go, i got a kimber she can borrow so she can get her crack on it lights everytime
Reverend Billy July 28, 2011 at 06:39 AM
Another good reason to stop SMOKING!
Sunwyn Ravenwood July 28, 2011 at 11:27 AM
Why don't you try reading the article BEFORE you comment? She picked it up OFF THE GROUND, thought it was a novelty lighter and pulled the trigger to see if it would light.
Sunwyn Ravenwood July 28, 2011 at 11:32 AM
You are a nasty rotten old man with a filthy mouth and a disgusting attitude towards women. Go wash your mouth out with soap. Then learn to spell and write coherent English. Or just bite yourself and die of rabies.
Karen Lyons Kalmenson July 28, 2011 at 12:21 PM
mother smoking OTC ganja;-D
Andi July 28, 2011 at 01:12 PM
This lends new meaning to smoking affecting your kids. Guns, aren't ever dangerous, though-just the people who leave them laying around. Meanwhile, children are dying in states like Indiana-shot by their brother. One drunken rifle shot at nite, and a child dies who was fishing with his dad.....but gotta have those guns, by crackey.
D July 28, 2011 at 08:15 PM
I call BS too. Just laying on the ground huh..Your all just standing around talking and it just appeared.. Whatever! Thank god this child is still alive!.


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