Story by Joseph Boyle. Photos by Joseph & Kjeri Boyle.
When you bring up the topic of guns, you are likely to garner a wide variety, and at times extreme, reactions.
Some people are thought to be gun nuts. To them there is no such thing as owing too many guns. Some people hate guns and break out into a pimply rash before they start to hyperventilate at the sight of a gun.
I am in between these extremes. A gun is simply a tool, like a lawn mower, chainsaw, or kitchen blender.
If you use any of these tools wisely, you can get a job done.
In the case of guns, getting the job done means, defending yourself and family from a predator or it could mean enjoying a hunting sport.
Regardless of which kind of person you are, and I should hasten to disclose, I am not attempting to change your thinking, everyone should become familiar with the 4 firearm safety rules. I mean everyone!
You might think you and your children do not need firearm safety rules because you do not have guns in your house. I understand that line of thinking, but consider this.
You protect your children by never letting them see or handle a gun.
One day your child is visiting at a friend’s home, and there is a gun carelessly left out in plain view. The gun soon becomes an overwhelming temptation to your child.
Now what is going to happen? Your child’s intellectual curiosity may compel him or her to pick up the gun and play with it. They do not know the firearm safety rules, so they make some mistakes and someone is hurt or killed. It happens all the time.
While I am talking about your children, adults experience the same problem.
Let me share the 4 firearm safety rules with you. They are very simple and easy to remember.
Rule #1: All guns are always loaded. Treat every gun as if it is loaded, even when someone says, “It’s not loaded.” A quote we see all the time after an accidental shooting, “I didn’t know the gun was loaded.” All guns are always loaded.
Rule #2: Do not point a gun at anything you do not wish to shoot. (Friends, family, windows, TV, cat or foot).
Rule #3: Be certain of your target and the backstop beyond.
It is not good to mistake a dark shadow coming down your hallway as a burglar, when the shadow belongs to your college student coming home for a surprise visit.
It is not a happy ending to shoot at a burglar coming down the hall (credible target) and not see your small child standing in the hallway (the backstop beyond) just a few feet behind the burglar and your line of fire.
Be certain of your target and the backstop beyond.
Rule #4: Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot. Index your firearm. (See photo above).
When making community presentations, I have asked for a show of hands, “How many of you have had firearms training?” It is a trick question.
Some will raise their hands. They have been out to the range or they were in the military or their grandpa taught them how to use a gun.
There are others who do not raise their hands, but actually, they are not giving me an accurate response.
Every one of us has had thousands of hours of firearms training in the form of movies and TV. Yes, thousands of hours of training, but not safe training.
In the movies, we are taught to immediately place our finger on the trigger. We are taught to check our house with the gun barrel up by our head. We are taught that shooting people is glamorous. These tactics make for better camera angles.
All of this is poor training. Professional gun trainers have to work very hard to undo this negative and dangerous training.
Anytime you read about someone who has been injured or killed by a gun accident, you should be able to observe that the shooter has violated or stacked two or more of the 4 firearm safety rules. It only takes two violations stacked together to create a tragedy.
You can violate one rule and you will still be ok. Put your finger on the trigger inappropriately, but point the gun in a safe direction like towards the ground. When the gun goes off accidentally, the round goes into the dirt. A finger on the trigger when you are pointing your gun at your TV and you will be heading down to the electronics store for a new TV.
A gun is no more responsible for injuring and killing a person than a spoon is responsible for a person becoming overweight.
My Washington State approved Driver’s Training course tells us that in a 1-hour period of time, 1 person is killed from homicidal violence in the USA. Many of these victims died as a result of a gun being used during a crime of violence.
Some citizens promote outlawing guns. Before we outlaw guns, we should outlaw cars and trucks. Why? Because in the same 1 hour period of time, 2 people are killed by cars.
Be prepared for firearm safety. You never know when you might need it.