VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — In September 2020, the tragic story of little Kingsley Ferguson shocked and saddened us all. The Virginia Beach boy shot himself while his family was visiting friends.
Kingsley’s mother and a friend, 23-year-old Naquan Jones, had just stepped outside of his Chase Arbor apartment when Kingsley found a gun inside and shot himself in the head.
Kingsley Ferguson died that day. Jones was sentenced to six years in prison on multiple charges, including allowing access to a loaded firearm to children.
In an effort to keep that kind of accident from happening again, safety experts want all adult gun owners to answer these questions:
- Do you know where your firearm is right now?
- Can your children get to that firearm?
The answers could mean the difference between life and death.
“I keep all my guns locked up,” says former U.S. Marine Andre Clarke, Sr.
He and retired Navy Seabee Joel “P.T.” Jones both teach adult gun owners and their children how to properly handle and store weapons.
Clarke, Sr. says he started with his four children.
“I make sure all my children, all the way down to my 7-year-old, have been introduced to firearms and they know, ‘that’s not safe,’ it’s not a toy. If I pull that trigger, somebody, more than likely, will get hurt.”
P.T. hopes his efforts prevent anyone from getting hurt. And during a recent gun safety class at his home in Virginia Beach, he questioned two teens to test their awareness of gun safety, in and out of their homes.
“How many of you know that your friends have firearms?,” P.T. asked.
Fortunately, brothers Isaiah, who’s 14, and 16-year-old Chris, answered “no” to that question. But Chris did know of someone who was killed in a drive-by shooting.
Jones later allowed Chris and Isaiah to hold a .22 caliber AR-15 style rifle. It was unloaded and had an orange lock running through its chamber, preventing it from firing.
“You see, it’s not loaded, it’s safe,” Jones told the boys, and their mother, sitting nearby. This demonstration happened just days after a gunman, who police say used a similar weapon with a larger bullet, killed 10 Black people in a Buffalo, New York, food store. Shortly after that, a gunman with
an AR-15-style rifle killed 19 children and two adults in Uvalde, Texas.
WAVY asked Isaiah what his thoughts were while he was going through gun training, and actually holding a gun.
“I guess I was just thinking about … how it could hurt someone.”
Chris was aware of recent shootings and even wondered about his own Virginia Beach school.
“It scares me because life is changing now, says Chris. You don’t know what or who might do
something like that.”
While Chris and Isaiah learned lessons on gun safety from a professional, they have also been taught by their mother, Navy veteran Linsei Harmon, who also happened to be carrying a handgun at the time.
“They know what it’s for. It’s (and other firearms) locked up safely in my home.”
Jones uses the ‘SMART Program” from the group “Mother’s Demand Action” to emphasize several points:
- 1 – Secure all guns in the home and vehicle
- 2 – Model responsible behavior
- 3 – Ask about unsecured guns in the home
- 4 – Recognize the role of guns in suicide
- 5 – Tell your peers to be smart when it comes to firearms
If you’ve just purchased a firearm, have never had instruction on how to use and store it safely in the home, or just need a refresher, they urge you to get a referral to a gun safety class from the firearms dealer that sold you the weapon, or contact Joel “P.T.” Jones at Strong Arms Gun Club.