Mistake of a lifetime

Once again we carried a heart-rending report yesterday about a six-year-old who shot herself with her father's gun.

Once again we carried a heart-rending report yesterday about a six-year-old who shot herself with her father's gun.

The heart-broken father, a security officer who needs the gun for work, was too shocked to talk about the tragedy.

His daughter found the firearm under his bed.

Only the most callous would not sympathise with the grieving family, but her father now also faces criminal charges.

South Africa's gun laws are clear: no one may keep a firearm at home unless it is secured in an approved gun safe - precisely to avoid this type of accident.

But these accidents recur month after month and year after year. One slip up, one act of minor carelessness, and another innocent dies.

This is not the time to debate the merits of keeping firearms at home.

But never forget guns are designed for the very purpose of inflicting mortal harm.

That's why we have strict laws designed to prevent these accidents and why we require all gun owners to be trained in safety before they are issued a licence for their firearms.

So how could this tragedy have unfolded?

The family must be asking themselves that question right now and the broken father will never be able to live down this calamity.

Guns kill and recriminations, excuses and apologies won't bring back the victims.

So once again we can only hope that others will learn from this family's misfortune.

If you must keep a gun at home, make sure it is securely locked away at all times.

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