Ramon Swanson would have loved to meet Eddie the Eagle.
His mother's careless friend with a loaded pistol made sure that would never happen.
June 8, the 6-year-old from Frayser was playing with that pistol. He shot himself, killing him instantly.
Police say 23-year-old Donovan Beene, visiting Ramon's mother, left the gun out in the open as soon as he walked in the door.
Now Beene faces a charge of criminally negligent homicide in Ramon's death. Beene, who has a history of drug and weapons convictions, is free on a $100,000 bond. His arraignment is scheduled Sept. 3.
Germantown Police Patrolman Andy Griffith (yes, that is his real name) makes it his mission to prevent these kinds of stories. He and his mascot, Eddie the Eagle, visit local schools to teach kids a simple motto on how to deal with guns:
STOP! DON'T TOUCH! LEAVE THE AREA! TELL AN ADULT!
Using a combination of video and direct contact, Griffith attempts to de-mystify guns and their home ownership, while at the same time teach kids to respect guns and avoid them until they are trained under adult supervision.
He also pushes parental responsibility, particularly in the storage of guns. If there's a gun in the house, there better be a gun safe, too -- with either a key lock or an electronic, push-button combination lock that can be regularly reprogrammed.
Griffith says gun owners should store their safes where they can get to them quickly -- but a kid or crook can't.
"An uncommon area like a pantry, where, you know, if someone broke into a home, they would not think to look in a pantry for a gun safe," Griffith says.
In lieu of a safe, Griffith says gun owners should at least store their guns out of sight with trigger locks. The Germantown Police Department offers free gun locks. They can be picked up at police headquarters, 1930 Germantown Rd. South, Germantown, between 8 am and 5 pm Monday through Friday.
School administrators interested in Germantown's Eddie the Eagle gun safety for kids may contact Lt. Angie Davis at 901-751-5646, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Le Bonheur Children's Medical Center and its Safe Kids Mid-South have these tips for gun storage and safety:
- Use a gun safe. Hiding guns is not enough. Never store guns in a dresser, couch, closet, automobile, purse or where your child might find them.
- Keep all guns unloaded and locked out of reach.
- Store bullets in a separate, locked place.
- Before you send your child to someone else's house, ask if there is a gun in their home. Then make sure safety precautions are followed in that household, too.
- Teach your child not to touch a gun and to get an adult if they find a gun.
Get the Gear
- Featured item - Gun Lock, which is designed to prevent a gun from firing.
- Where to get it - Hardware stores, discount chains
- Cost - $10- $35