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DeAnn and Dearrian Radely of Nashville TN

A Preventable Trgedy

April 06, 20245 min read


Imagine spending the day with your child. You go out shopping, have lunch, chit chat about school and friends, and just have a bunch of laughs.

You had the best day you could hope for with your child, and when it’s time to go home, you walk together to your car. You reach into your bag looking for your keys, and BOOM…

It takes you a moment to gather yourself. Your ears are ringing, and your brain is frozen. You call out to your child, but she doesn’t answer. You begin to panic, and there she is, lying on the ground fatally wounded.

You scream her name, and then for help, but it’s too late.

You scream at the top of your lungs with agony, calling her name over and over, trying to revive her but to no avail.

She’s gone…

And you killed her!

This is the story of DeAnn Radley of Nashville TN.

I cannot imagine the pain, agony, and guilt she has to endure for the rest of her life after accidentally killing her daughter, Dearria.

DeAnn was carrying a firearm in her purse. A .40 caliber pistol. Like all of us who carry a firearm lawfully for self-defense, DeAnn was doing the same. Unfortunately, however, she made some huge mistakes. Had she taken the time to get some basic education and safety training, this tragedy could have easily been prevented.

She may have had the best of intentions when she bought her gun, but like many novice gun owners, she probably thought, “How difficult could this be? Just point and shoot, right?”

Or perhaps she thought that it’s too expensive to get lessons so she’ll get to it when she could.

I say that because when she was interviewed by police, 2 things in particular were discovered that made it clear DeAnn was an ignorant, irresponsible, and negligent gun owner.

1. The firearm was unholstered and mixed in with all the other items in her purse.

2. She stated that she didn’t even know it was loaded.

That pretty much tells us everything we need to conclude that she is an ignorant, irresponsible, and negligent gun owner.

You see, when she reached inside her purse for her car keys, the keys caught on the trigger. So she pulled harder, and the trigger was pulled. The bullet went through her purse and struck her daughter.

If you carry a firearm for self-defense, it must always be in a holster or separate compartment inside a bag. The holster or compartment should be of rigid material that completely covers the trigger and keeps the gun securely in place. There should be nothing else inside that holster or compartment but the gun.

Now, carrying a firearm and not knowing if it’s loaded or not tells me that DeAnn probably had no idea how to perform a safety inspection, load and unload a gun, or operate it.

She put everyone around her in danger. No less than getting behind a wheel, having never driven and taking your child along for the ride.

No charges were brought against DeAnn. She will serve a life sentence of suffering as it is. Had her gun discharged and hit a stranger in that parking lot, she would likely face charges and jail time.

As a parent, I’d say she’d probably prefer that to losing her daughter. May she rest in peace.

I said it before, and I’ll say it again. With guns, there is no do-over or saying I’m sorry.

When we decide to become gunowners, whether we carry in public or not, getting trained and learning our state and local laws ought to be a forgone conclusion. Non-negotiable.

Just because the 2nd amendment says “Shall Not Be Infringed” doesn’t mean it’s OK to neglect the responsibility that comes with that right. If you want to put yourself at risk by neglecting to be safe and competent with a firearm, be my guest.

But putting others at risk is not OK.

DeAnn’s story is but one of many daily stories of irresponsible gun ownership gone bad. I bet that if DeAnn could pay to bring her daughter back no amount of money would be too much. And getting adequate training to prevent such a tragedy costs an insignificant fraction of that.

But she’ll never have that option, will she?

As humans, we just have to learn the hard way sometimes. Unfortunately, not every hard lesson gets a replay.

Like driving drunk or texting while driving and killing another driver or pedestrian, and that’s after having taken driving lessons and getting a license. Cars are no less deadly than firearms. In fact, there are more people driving deadly weapons than carrying deadly weapons.

Yet somehow, some people feel that carrying a gun without training is OK when they wouldn’t consider driving without training. How is that sensible?

And please, if you’re going to comment that you don’t need the government’s permission to keep and bear arms, and that driving is a privilege while guns are an inalienable right, save it for someone else. It’s boring and immature.

It doesn’t bring back the dead or solves the issue of irresponsible gun ownership. It doesn’t help DeAnn’s daughter and many like her mother who abused their right and paid the ultimate price.

Gun owners who think that way are part of the problem and give gun owners in general a bad name.

Just because we don’t need permission doesn’t mean we can be irresponsible. If anything, we ought to be more so.

There is no shortage of training options for any budget. There are certified instructors in almost every town. Some law enforcement agencies and precincts provide free safety training. There are volunteer groups and social clubs that offer free safety training to their communities and members, or for a nominal fee.

If you want to be a safe and responsible gun owner and save yourself and others around you the agony DeAnn has and will continue to endure, then stop making excuses, and overestimating your ability to “figure it out” on your own and do the right thing.

Don’t put yourself in the irreparable position to say, “I wish I would have done it differently when I had the chance.”

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Joe Yagar

Joe Yagar is a NRA Certified Instructor in the Bradenton-Sarasota area.

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