THE tragic death of a two-year-old toddler who was accidentally shot by her 11-year-old brother in Empangeni, KwaZulu-Natal has brought the importance of keeping firearms away from children into sharp focus.
Last year, a report by the South African Medical Journal revealed that as many as 20 people are killed in gun-related incidents every day.
Police spokesperson Col Thembeka Mbhele urged all licensed firearm owners to ensure they do not violate the Firearms Control Act by failing to safeguard their firearms as this amounts to a criminal act.
Stuart Clarkson, Fidelity ADT Managing Executive, said it would be beneficial to see more public campaigns focusing on the importance of safe and responsible firearm handling and storage. He cites a campaign the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) ran in the United States recently entitled S.A.F.E. Summer.
The SAFE in S.A.F.E. Summer serves as an acronym for:
• Secure your firearms when not in use
• Be aware of those around you who should not have unauthorised access to guns
• Focus on your responsibility as a firearm owner; and
• Educate yourself and others about safe firearm handling and storage.
Clarkson said the campaign was so successful as it focused on equipping gun owners to take responsible action to help keep their families and communities safer, particularly while children are home from school and are more likely to be left unattended.
“Nearly all firearm accidents in the home can be prevented when gun owners take simple precautions. Proper storage is the number one way to help prevent accidents. Anyone who is going to own a firearm should respect it and secure it when not in use to help prevent firearm accidents and misuse,” said Clarkson.
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