Now, normally I would be quite happy to rant about how the average person in the street should not be carrying firearms and the like, but in this current case it is a moot point. The weapon in question was held illegally and, for now, we don’t have a “right to bear arms” in the United Kingdom.
As background, today the news centred around how the person who shot and killed 12 year old Kamilah Peniston in April was named as her 17 year old brother, Kasha Peniston. In a nutshell, their mother illegally owned a .38 revolver, Kasha found it and was playing with it when “it went off” and shot Kamilah in the head. Paramedics arrived to find Kasha screaming for help, cradling Kamilah in his arms. She was later pronounced dead at hospital. (BBC news)
The brother was initially charged with murder (and pleaded innocent) but has now accepted a charge of manslaughter. (This is reasonable as murder requires intent, there is no reason to suspect there was any intent in this case). The mother has pleaded guilty to illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition.
From that one accidental discharge of a firearm, three lives have been irrevocably destroyed. The mother and brother will live the rest of their lives with the guilt, the social stigma and the criminal record. Assuming the brother serves the “typical” sentence for manslaughter, he will be around 25 when he is released back into the community – knowing nothing about adult life other than what he has learned in jail. Without wishing to be downbeat about this, the chances of him re-offending is significantly higher than his already high peer group. The mother has basically lost her family as well as facing a sentence of around 3 – 5 years (possibly longer as the consequences of her illegal possession may influence the sentence).
It is a tragic tale and it highlights a sequence of mistakes and errors – the mother should have taken stronger measures to ensure the children had no unsupervised access to the weapon, the son should have been taught how to use the revolver safely etc. The most basic thing which could have been changed to save the daughters life is for the mother to not have the weapon in the first place.
It is certainly the will of Cocidius that this tragic event happened at a time where there is considerable debate in the UK about people having the means to defend themselves in their houses. I am sure Kamilah’s mother felt she needed the .38 for a sensible reason, but does that reason seem so sensible to her now?