The phrase "gun violence" strikes a chord of fear in almost all who hear it. Yet, many people will quickly follow their fear with a reassurance, either aloud or internal, that gun violence will not impact them. While we all hear the headlines about gangs and drug-related violence, our Panama City wrongful death lawyer knows that accidental shootings remain a very real issue.
A local gun tragedy is discussed in a recent article by the News Herald team. According to the Bay County Sheriff's Office ("BCSO"), a struggle over a gun that eventually discharged, leaving both wounded. Neighbors called the BCSO to report a domestic disturbance at the Abalone Apartments on North Tyndall Parkway Friday. When officers arrived, they located a woman who had been injured by a shot to the right shoulder. With the aid of a K-9 and the BCSO air unit, officers located 26-year-old Paul Lambert of Alabama. Police charged Lambert with tampering with evidence, aggravated battery, and being a felon in possession of a firearm. Lambert also suffered a gun wound to the left forearm. Police believe that Lambert demanded his girlfriend give him the gun she had in her purse. After she refused, the pair wrestled for the firearm and it went off, hitting both individuals. Investigators found that Lambert had been staying with family in the area, including 24-year-old Amber Criswell, whom officers also arrested on charges that she tampered with evidence. The girlfriend was hospitalized due to her injuries. Police report their investigation is ongoing and that more charges may come.
There are many organizations that work to educate the public on the danger of gun-related accidents. Stop Handgun Violence is a non-profit working to control gun violence through public awareness campaigns and sensible regulation. The group does not seek to ban guns entirely. Among the many facts shared on the group's website is the statistic that it is 22 times more likely that a gun in the home will be used in an unintentional shooting than in self-defense.
The more well-known Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence devotes a full webpage to the issue of unintentional shootings. As a broad matter, they note that high gun ownership correlates with a higher number of unintentional shootings. Overall, the mortality rate stemming from accidental shootings is 8 times higher in the 4 states with the most guns (for kids 5 to 10, the rate is 14 times higher, for kids from infancy through 4 years, the rate is 8 times higher). In 2007, a total of 613 people died nationally as a result of an unintentional shooting. In 2009, a total of 18,610 people were wounded but survived following an unintentional shooting. Looking broadly, most unintentional shooting deaths occur in a home environment, and nearly half of the incidents involved a victim being shot by someone they knew.
Many gun owners treat their weapons with care. Storage practices are associated with a rise in the risk of unintentional gun fatalities. Notably, 33% of households with a gun do not lock the firearm up, and that rises to 40% of homes with a child under age 18. Responsible gun owners should be consulted when government officials work to create safety programs to keep guns out of the wrong hands and encourage gun safety.
Gun control is a controversial, political issue. Gun violence is, however, also a major public safety issue, and thus a concern for our Panama City injury firm. If you have suffered injury or lost a loved one due to a firearms accident in Northwest Florida, please call our team. We offer a free consultation to discuss your rights and how the civil law system can help you obtain compensation for your injuries or the loss of your family member.