The four rules of gun safety are much like the laws of economics. They are in full force everywhere and they can’t be repealed, no matter how much some would like to try. Those who would flout or ignore them do so at their own peril.
According to a Newsweek (remember them?) report, a criminal trial was under way in the town of Umzimkhulu, South Africa, a little burg southwest of Durban. The trial concerned an assault and robbery case against five men that allegedly took place in 2014. The wheels of justice grind slowly in S.A.
As Newsweek describes it . . .
Addelaid Ferreira-Watt, a prominent South African attorney, was killed after a shotgun that had been entered as evidence in a robbery trial was accidentally dropped and fired into her leg.
News24 reported that the gun was being held by a police officer in Umzimkhulu Regional Court when it slipped from his hands and hit the floor. The shotgun released a shell into Ferreira-Watt’s left hip. She was rushed to the hospital but doctors could not save her life.
How could such a thing have happened? Had a loaded shotgun really been held in an evidence room somewhere for five years? No.
The shotgun belonged to the victims, and it was retrieved by police from the suspects and returned to their possession, as they needed it for home defense. On Monday the couple returned it to the police so it could be submitted as evidence in the trial.
When the victims handed the shotgun over to the police, the officer who received it didn’t do the most basic thing you should do every time someone hands you a firearm. They didn’t check it to make sure it was clear.
It’s probably a mistake a lot of us have made. It’s easy to assume a gun is safe when someone hands one to you, or to just forget to do the check. That’s a slip-up that can ruin your entire day.