OWNER SENTENCED IN GUN-SAFETY CASE\ A LITTLE-USED STATE LAW RESULTS IN THE CONVICTION OF A GREENSBORO WOMAN FOR FAILING TO STORE HER GUN SAFELY.
A judge sentenced a Greensboro grandmother to two years’ probation and 90 hours of community service Tuesday after she pleaded guilty to failing to properly store the gun that her 4-year-old grandson used to shoot her 6-year-old godson.
Beulah Lindsay, 57, was charged in April with the state’s gun-storage law. Her grandson found the loaded .38-caliber pistol in her purse behind a sofa. The little boy aimed the gun at Carlos Gilmer and shot him in the neck. He died before emergency workers could get to him.“He was my baby,’ Lindsay mumbled while sobbing in front of Chief Judge Lawrence McSwain in Guilford District Court.
“It’s been an utterly destructive event in her life,’ said Krispen Culbertson, a Greensboro attorney who represented Lindsay. “The mother of the victim has forgiven her, and they’re still friends.’
Carlos’ mother, Diana Gilmer, wiped away tears as she stood next to Lindsay before the judge. “She is a very good friend of mine,’ Gilmer told McSwain. The two women sat together in the courtroom.
Before North Carolina established the misdemeanor offense in 1993, such incidents would have been dismissed as accidents, McSwain said. Only a handful of people have been charged with failing to properly store a firearm.
“With the new law, you are now at fault,’ McSwain said. “My job is to tailor the punishment to your case and not all the other cases that come down the road.’
The law was designed to reduce the number of accidental deaths among children and to punish adults who do not store their weapons responsibly.
From 1990 through 1993, 35 children died in accidental shootings in the state. Between 1994 and 1996, that number dropped to nine.
“There’s no more powerful deterrent than the death of this young child who she thought of as her own,’ said Assistant District Attorney John Nieman. “Hopefully with the notoriety that this case and this law have given to this particular problem, it will deter others from being less than careful with the use of a firearm and maybe even get people who have young children in their house not to have firearms.’
McSwain gave Lindsay a suspended sentence of five days in jail. He placed her on unsupervised probation for two years and ordered her to pay court costs, continue counseling, complete the community service and not be convicted of a similar offense. He also ordered that the gun be destroyed.
Because Lindsay did not have a criminal record, the maximum sentence she could have received for the misdemeanor offense was 45 days in jail.
Source: Greensboro.com News