PostedÂ December 8, 2009 By Lindell Kay, enctoday.com Â Authorities are stressing gun safety after two recent unrelated accidental shootings left a toddler dead in his home and a 58-year-old woman injured at the Jacksonville mall. Â “Respect all weapons and use them responsibly,” said Jacksonville Police Lt. Devon Bryan. “Never point a weapon at something that you do not intend on destroying.” Â A shopping trip turned into a nightmare for Letha Gibbs on Friday when she was shot in the face by a storeowner’s handgun that fell on the floor. Still in Pitt County Memorial Hospital, Gibbs told reporters that she did not realize she had been shot and thought she had been electrocuted. Â Gibbs said that although the bullet is still lodged in her face, she will not need surgery. Doctors told her the fragment will work its way out on its own. Â The Jacksonville Police Department said the shooting was an accident; the store owner, 77-year-old Foster Carter is licensed to carry the firearm; and no charges will be filed. Â Onslow County Sheriff’s detectives are still investigating the death of 3-year-old Tyler Lewis who shot himself in the forehead after finding a handgun in his Kanton Hills home last month. His death was ruled an accident by medical examiners, but there are certain North Carolina laws about not leaving a gun accessible to minors, prosecutors said. Â The decision whether the child’s parents will be charged has not been made. Â Police said anyone who plans to own a firearm should know how to use it properly. Â “Gun safety at home is extremely important. First before handling a firearm the user should learn and follow the recommendations of the manufacture on how to properly use it,” said Bryan, a sniper who trains police officers and military personnel. Â He said that when firearms are not in use they should be secured in a gun safe or with the use of a gun lock. Â “All types of firearms should be locked or secured so that children are incapable of having access to them,” he said. Â Not only should the weapons be locked, but the keys to those locks should be kept safely out of a child’s reach, he said, adding that ammunition should be stored in a location separate from the firearms. Â “Treat each firearm as if it were loaded, and never give or hand someone a loaded firearm,” he said. “If someone hands you a firearm, double check it by visually and physically inspecting it to ensure that it has been unloaded.” Â He said people practicing with firearms should always be aware of their surroundings and not assume a target will stop a bullet — bullets can possibly travel through the target and beyond. Â Onslow County Sheriff’s Capt. Donnie Worrell said there are four cardinal rules in gun safety: Â
- Treat all guns as if they are loaded.
- Point the gun’s muzzle in a safe direction at all times.
- Be sure of your target and what is around and behind it.
- Keep your finger outside the trigger guard until you are on target and have decided to fire.
Â Worrell also said a child’s curiosity may override a parent’s direct order for the child not to touch a firearm. And parents should not be fooled into thinking a child cannot pull the trigger of a double-action weapon. Â He said all firearms should be secured; there is no such thing as a good hiding place for a gun.