It seems like everyday we hear about an “accidental” shooting. I consider these incidents of careless misuse that are avoidable. A true firearm accident is when there is some kind of failure or malfunction of firearm, round or equipment. What many people call accidents aren’t really accidents, the actions are deliberate, but the results may be undesirable. A problem with firearm purchasing is that anyone can buy them without any knowledge of how to use them. Even with the knowledge, many people ignore basic safety measures.
The 4 Rules of Firearm Safety
- Always treat the gun as if it’s loaded
- Never point a gun at anything you’re not willing to destroy
- Always be sure of your target and what’s behind it
- Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot
Following those rules all but guarantees you will never have an incident of careless misuse. Properly storing firearms eliminates others from misusing them. Over the past few months, young children shot themselves and others after finding improperly stored firearms. One child found the gun on a bed, another on the backseat in a car and yet another found one in the glove compartment of mom’s car while in the grocery store’s parking lot.
Teach Your Kids to Be Gun Safe
If you have children, you have to be extra cautious with firearms. Children are naturally curious and don’t fully understand the dangers of guns. I wanted to see what my kindergartner would do if she found a gun, so I gave her an unloaded and disabled Nerf gun. Almost immediately, the gun was pointed at her face so she could look into the hole. Then the gun was pointed at me. She pulled the trigger multiple times without knowing what it did. It’s almost a given that this is what children will do when they find a gun.
As parents, we have to teach our children how to safely operate firearms. Those lessons should be age appropriate and aren’t excuses to leave firearms unsecured. Simply telling a child guns are dangerous and don’t touch them isn’t enough because a child’s curiosity trumps your warnings. Teaching the rules of gun safety will give them the knowledge of how to be safe even when doing the wrong thing.
I played with a handgun that I came across when I was 11 or 12 years old. I’d never held a gun before and I wasn’t taught anything about guns. I would take the bullets out of the magazine, then put them back in. Put the magazine in the gun and put a round in the chamber and then unload it. I even walked around with it in my waistband. But I knew not to pull the trigger. At the time, I was just having fun. And no one ever found out what I got up to. Only as an adult did I realize the scope of how dangerous of a situation I was in.
Secure Your Firearms
Always secure your firearms. Even when it’s the current home-defense weapon. Already secured firearms can’t be forgotten to be secured. Bolted down safes are the best way to secure firearms. This is true for the nightstand firearm as well. You want to be able to quickly get to a firearm in an emergency, but that method shouldn’t become a danger when you’re not around. Also, the safe shouldn’t be easily crackable. Before buying a safe, search the internet to make sure that safe is, well, safe.
You Know Your Family
As a firearm owner, you know who shouldn’t be around firearms. If you live with unstable people, you have to pay close attention to what they say and do. Don’t ignore the signs that someone shouldn’t have access to firearms. If someone in your household regularly says, “if I had a gun I would shoot…,” they probably shouldn’t be around guns. A young boy killed his dad before going on a shooting spree. The boy shouldn’t have had further access to firearms because he was expelled for taking them to school. We need to take the hint. The mother of the Sandy Hook school shooter knew her son shouldn’t be around firearms. There’s a big difference between keeping guns secure and keeping them away from dangerous people. Reconsider firearms in the home if you live with dangerous people. The first ones usually killed in these types of situations are the firearm owners.
Firearm safety starts with you. Whether you own them or not, you should know how to be safe around them. You may avoid guns all your life, but you should know how to be safe around them to at least pass that information on to your children. Just because you keep them out of your home doesn’t mean that your child well never come across one. “I don’t want you touching a gun” isn’t enough. How many times have you caught your children doing things you’ve told them not to do? The very least we can do is give them the tools to be safe. They may even spread that info to their friends and save their lives.