Police: Keep guns far away from kids - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Police: Keep guns far away from kids

June 1, 2007

Albany - - Half of all the households in the United States have a gun in it. But are you practicing safety when it comes to keeping a gun at home?

In South Georgia, there have been three accidental shootings in just one month, two of them involved children. One of those children remains in an Albany hospital Friday night after a friend shot him in the face. Officers say all of these shootings could have been prevented.

One day after 14 year old Jamie Laster was shot in the face while playing with a friend, police say these stories are becoming too familiar.

"You need to teach your children that guns are not a toy. A play gun is a play gun. A real gun is real," says Lt. Tom Jackson.

Laster's 13 year old friend picked up the gun inside his home. And even though he accidentally shot his friend, he was charged. Officers say it can happen to your child.

"You need to have it in a place that they cant access, it needs to be secured and you need to put a gun lock to it and have the ammunition taken out of that weapon."

Last month, a three year old shot himself in the stomach inside of his Moultrie home. It happened because his parents didn't have the gun locked up.

Lt. Jackson says put your gun in a locked box and store the key in a safe place where only you know how to access it.

"As professional law enforcement officers were taught over and over we don't play with our guns. The only time we draw our weapon is to fire at a target or if were being assaulted in someway and feel we need to utilize deadly force or were cleaning our weapon."

Unfortunately, former Boston police officer Ray Bradford learned the hard way. He accidentally shot and killed a fellow officer while cleaning his gun. Bradford has since resigned from the police department.

Officers say we all can brush up on practicing gun safety.

"You have a right to bear and own a gun, but you need to do it responsibly and safely."

Children and teenagers he says don't even need to touch a gun.

"If you see a gun that's real, you don't need to mess with it, you don't need to play with it."

Because it can end up like one of these sad stories not worth re-living. 

The National Rifle Association says whenever you're handling a gun, never point it at yourself or at others and keep your finger off of the trigger until there's a need to shoot. And like Officer Jackson said, always keep the gun unloaded until there's a need to use it.

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