A 16-year-old girl died Monday night after being shot in the face when a handgun "accidentally" fired as it was being handled by a relative.
Tempe Police said a family member was either cleaning or handling the gun when it went off at about 9:30 p.m., striking the girl at an apartment complex near Rural Road and University Drive. Sgt. Damon DeSpain, a Tempe police spokesman, said the relative was an in-law to the 16-year-old.
The gunshot victim was taken to a hospital, where she died. Her name has not yet been released. Police are investigating, but DeSpain said the shooting appeared to be an accident.
IS THERE LIABILITY UNDER ARIZONA LAW FOR AN INCIDENT LIKE THIS? WHO IS RESPONSIBLE?
There is no question that the person who was handling the gun at the time of the incident is responsible.
There are four rules of gun safety that anyone who handles a gun must know. These are:
- Always assume the gun is loaded;
- Never put your finger on the trigger until you are ready to shoot;
- Never point the gun at anything you do not intend to kill; and
- Always know your target and what is behind it.
There is no possibility of an “accidental” shooting without at least one of these rules being violated. No one in good conscious should be allowed to touch a weapon without knowing these rules.
To own a gun and not know these rules is reckless.
To know these rules and violate one is reckless.
To hurt or kill another when violating one of these rules is senseless.
There is liability here. On the shooter, and perhaps the owner/renter of the premises where the shooting occurred, depending on that person’s knowledge of the existence of the gun and the training, lack thereof or reputation of the handler.
Our hearts go out to this young woman and her family and friends.