Child's tragic death triggers conversation of gun safety and grief

Child's tragic death triggers conversation of gun safety and grief

RICHMOND COUNTY, GA (WFXG) - Studies show nearly one third of households across the nation have at least one firearm in them. The Richmond County Sheriff's Office is encouraging people to secure those weapons. They also want to get the word out about a safe place for people impacted by tragedy.

"As we've seen in this most recent case, even a few minutes is all it takes for a tragedy to occur," Richmond County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Sgt. William McCarty.

One Richmond County family's tragedy opened the conversation to a crucial topic, gun safety, when 4-year-old Justin Foss, Jr's life was cut short by a loaded Smith and Wesson Saturday. Richmond County Sheriff's office spokesperson Sergeant William McCarty said that's the age you want to start talking to your kids about guns.

He said kids as young as three years old are strong enough to pull the trigger.

"If a child is able to move and get out of your sight, anything could happen."

Sgt. McCarty said gun locks and lock boxes with combinations and keys are ways you can safely store your firearm. He said kids should always be taught not to handle guns outside the presence of an adult. Having that conversation right now could keep a naturally curious child away from the instrument meant to keep intruders out.

A woman who knows first hand what it's like to lose a child to a gun works in the Richmond County Sheriff's office. She turned her pain into a safe place for people to talk about and remember their loved ones. Von Daniels, Sheriff Roundtree's Executive Assistant, started Angel Hearts Support Group after her son, Cory Joseph, was murdered 11 years ago. It's a place where parents of murdered children can honor their lost loved ones.

"I realized that talking was the key to getting people past the grief they were going through. I do think that talking to people that understand and know how it feels is the best way," Daniels.

Several years ago, she even started an event just for people to remember and celebrate the lives of victims of gun violence. In September, at her annual National Day of Remembrance for murder victims, she wants to start a mile walk in May Park to the ceremony that includes singing, speeches and a slide-show of people who were murdered.

Angel Hearts Support Group meets twice a month, where they can grieve, give advice and even share resources. She knows during times like this, people just need time.

"At the beginning of an initial murder investigation and case, the parent doesn't wanna talk to anyone. They're trying to bury their child, they're trying to get through the concept of what has happened and what their life is gonna be like," Daniels explained.

Both topics - guns and grieving - are complicated to discuss but no matter your age, having one conversation could prevent the other.

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