A young life was lost last week and the tragedy could have been avoided. A 14-year-old Hinesville girl and her 16-year-old friend, Ela’na Briona Alisa Poole, who was visiting from the Atlanta area, were tossing around a semiautomatic handgun when the weapon discharged, striking the older girl in the mouth and killing her. The younger teenager said she found the gun in her mother’s dresser drawer. She knew enough about firearms to remove the gun’s clip, but she did not empty the chamber.
We live in a state where a 2010 gun-rights expansion gave permit-holders the right to carry guns into churches and bars. Georgia residents are going to buy and carry guns; their right to do so is protected by the Constitution. However, those who own firearms also must realize that they are obligated to make safety their No. 1 priority. Last Sunday’s accidental shooting is a perfect example of the tragic events that can unfold when the proper precautions aren’t
According to www.kidsandguns.org, gun owners who live with children should keep their weapons unloaded and locked away. Ammunition should be locked up in a separate location, and the keys to the locked storage areas should be hidden where children cannot find them. As soon as children are old enough to understand, they should be told not to touch guns and to notify an adult immediately if they find one.
Parents who do not own or use weapons also must realize that gun safety doesn’t stop with gun owners. When children visit someone else’s home, it is the responsibility of the visiting child’s parents to make sure any guns in the home are not accessible. It may seem excessive, but it’s better to play it safe than sorry.
In addition to limiting access, educating children about firearms is a key component of gun safety. According to Popular Mechanics, the basic principles of firearms safety boil down to good common sense. Handle guns as if they were loaded. Keep them pointed in a safe direction. Keep your finger out of the trigger guard until you’re ready to fire. Make certain that the target and surrounding area are safe.
The National Rifle Association has a parents’ guide to gun safety, which is available on its website at www.nrahq.org/safety/eddie/infoparents.asp, by calling 800-231-0752 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
All too often, the subject of gun safety and education comes up only after it’s too late. Adults have the power to keep children safe from weapons. Don’t wait — take precautions now. Lives will be saved.