Firearm safety

2008-12-01 00:00

During the shooting spree for which he was sentenced to four life terms, Skielik murderer Johann Nel used his father’s rifle. This was, apparently, not locked in a gun safe as is required by law, and the police said last week that the father, Hennie Nel, may be recharged (a previous such charge was withdrawn) with the negligent handling of a firearm — that is, for not properly safeguarding his weapon. A conviction on this charge would lead to a five-year revoking of his gun licence.

This is a reminder to all owners and would-be owners of firearms that firearm ownership carries with it a heavy responsibility. While the weapon may be used for protection in cases of dire need, the licence-holder must, by locking it securely away, see to it that it does not fall into the wrong hands, whether from outside the home (burglars, etc) or from within (juveniles, say, or incompetents, or family members with warped motives, like Johann Nel). Anyone not prepared to observe the basic rules of custodianship should not be permitted to own a firearm and anyone whose negligence contributes to a crime should be severely punished.

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