SAGA on Children & Firearms
SAGA cares for all our people and all our children. These views are expressed to promote safety for all. The extract from the New York Times regarding the gun-andchildren debate in the USA gives every honest reader much to think about. While the figures in the USA are astonishing, we have nothing to be proud about in South Africa. Far too many innocent children and adults are killed or injured by people who intentionally
or negligently handle firearms. All these perpetrators play into the hands of the anti-gun group since they label all firearm owners as irresponsible and potential criminals. It must be clearly understood that very few genuine accidents occur. We regard an accident as an incident where no blame is attributed to the handler of the firearm. Usually this could happen only if the firearm discharged due to a mechanical defect or an error that ought to have been prevented by the handler. However, even in such isolated instances, injuries could have
been prevented had the basic safety rules been adhered to. These firearm safety rules are:
1. Every firearm must be treated as loaded at all times . Never assume a firearm is safe and never believe anyone who says so.
2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not prepared to shoot at.
3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on target and you are ready to shoot. Never touch the trigger while otherwise handling the firearm.
4. Make sure of your target and what is behind it and in its vicinity.
5. Responsible firearm owners will never handle a firearm after or during alcohol consumption.
Irrespective of whether in the presence of children, but specifically when their presence is anticipated, firearm owners must always exercise extreme caution by ensuring that the firearm is never placed where any child could get hold of it (keeping in mind their intuition to find things and to experiment). Firearm bearers who arrive home must, if they do not continue to carry the firearm on their person, lock it away in a prescribed safe. If they leave it somewhere to be readily available "just in case", it is recommended that the chamber be cleared and the
magazine removed or, in the case of a revolver, the ammunition be removed, and carried on one's person. The firearm could then
not be used by anyone else. SAGA is not in favour of electronic or mechanical locking devices that deactivate the firearm (remember
Murphy's law!) but reasonable measures could easily be carried out to make the firearm safe. Best still is to carry it on your person or
keep it under your direct control or lock it away in the safe. SAGA further believes in the three basic rules of firearm safety that
all children must learn:
1. If you see a gun, don't touch!
2. Leave the room and take all others with you.
3. Call an adult.
We like to add that in all households where there are firearms, especially if they are frequently used, that all in the household be taught about firearm safety. If those non-gun owners understand these basic rules and you have removed the curiosity factor by allowing children to fire the guns and to see the effect of the bullet on a target (especially a 5 litre container filled with water) you drastically reduce the chances of
a gun-related incident. Remember always to care for the environment by correctly disposing of all targets and remnants of the containers
and to never ever shoot at glass targets. SAGA strongly believes in the right of law abiding citizens to lawfully possess firearms and to
use them for lawful purposes. Unlike the USA we do not have such a right entrenched in our Constitution. We do, however, have the
right to exercise choices, such as to decide whether or not you wish to own a firearm. All rights have correlative obligations, this right
(privilege) too. When you have been granted a license to possess a firearm it is your duty to ensure that it is stored, possessed and
used in accordance with the Firearms Control Act with full recognition of the rights of all other people. More children and adults are
killed or injured by choking on food, falling out of trees, drowning, road accidents, etc than with firearms. Only when firearm incidents
occur do we get calls for the banning of firearms, never for trees, swimming pools, cars and the like. As responsible firearm owners we must play a significant role in reducing firearm-related incidents, injuries and deaths. Responsibility starts with you! It is responsible to be law abiding and to contribute to a safe society. Responsible citizens should never be expected to give up or surrender any of their rights.