The tragic accidental shooting of a 2-year old girl by her 11-year-old brother in KwaZulu-Natal earlier this month has brought into sharp focus the importance of keeping firearms away from children, said security company, Fidelity ADT.
The Herald’s sister publication, the Zululand Observer, reported that both died in the incident in the Mancekane Reserve – the boy at the scene and his sister in the Empangeni Private Hospital.
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Commenting on the tragedy, Colonel Thembeka Mbhele, KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson, urged all licensed firearm owners to ensure that they do not violate the Firearms Control Act 60 of 2000 by failing to safeguard their firearms, as this amounts to a criminal act.
Stuart Clarkson, Fidelity ADT Managing Executive, said a report by the South African Medical Journal in 2017 revealed that as many as 20 people are killed in gun-related incidents every single day.
He added 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 run by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) in the United States recently, entitled S.A.F.E. Summer.
According to Clarkson, 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 successful because 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.
“In South Africa there are very clear regulations (section 83 (Storage of firearms) and regulation 86 (Safe custody of firearms) of the Firearms Control Act) about owning and storing a firearm. If you are a gun owner it is essential you familiarise yourself with these and ensure everyone in the family home, including domestic staff, are educated about firearm safety,” concluded Clarkson.
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