By Jeff Knox
Buckeye, AZ --(Ammoland.com)- In all of the hype and hullabaloo between gun groups and anti-gun groups, one thing that should not ever be forgotten is that guns can be very dangerous if not handled properly.
For people like my family, gun safety is ingrained from birth – possibly passed down genetically – and then reinforced on a constant basis. But even so, it’s easy to make a mistake, and one momentary slip with a gun can have devastating, permanent consequences.
That’s why it’s so important to maintain a constant state of healthy fear – not fear of the gun, but fear of letting yourself become complacent and failing to follow the very simple, but inviolable, Four Rules of gun safety:
- Always treat every gun as if it’s loaded – even when you think it’s not.
- Never ever allow a gun to point at anything you are not willing to kill or destroy.
- Never let your finger enter the trigger guard until you’re on target and ready to shoot.
- Always be sure of your target and what’s beyond it before you touch the trigger.
Being an activist, advocate, and writer in the field of firearms and firearms law, I pay close attention to news and research regarding guns and gun injuries, and it seems that I’ve been seeing more reports of people – especially children – injuring or killing themselves or someone else by mishandling a firearm. I hope it’s just an increase in the way these things are reported, not an actual increase in incidents – as is the case with “mass shootings.” Nonetheless, it is a matter of concern. Unintentional firearm-related injuries and deaths have been going down steadily for decades and we don’t want to see any slowing of that trend; even one is too many.
With the recent introduction of Mike Bloomberg’s new group, Everytown for Gun Safety – which of course has nothing whatsoever to do with gun safety, and everything to do with old-fashioned gun control – along with the dramatic increase in firearm ownership around the country over the past several years, the need for gun owners and lovers of liberty to redouble efforts to improve firearm safety education is clear. Poor gun handling doesn’t just hurt the people involved and those who care about them. These incidents are used by groups like the Bloomies to increase pressure for government intervention – usually in the form of additional restrictions on firearm ownership. Proposed “solutions” include such things as “safe storage” mandates, mandatory training classes, and physical changes to guns themselves, such as built in locks, magazine disconnects, and so-called “smart-gun” technology.
I, like almost all gun owners, am a strong advocate of responsible storage of firearms and training in both safety and competency. I also support innovation in internal safety systems, including systems that can efficiently recognize “authorized users” and disable guns in unauthorized hands. Where I have a problem is the government mandating of any of this sort of technology. It is the individual’s responsibility to learn and practice safe handling, and to make sure that their firearms are kept in a manner that keeps them away from unauthorized people, especially unsupervised children. It is also the individual’s responsibility to choose what features and technology he or she wants included in a gun.
Historically, government mandates have resulted in government abuse. In New Jersey, the mere discussion of “smart-gun” technology led the legislature to pass a law requiring that once such technology became available, any guns not equipped with it would become illegal for sale in the state. That law has made “smart-gun” a dirty word within the firearms community. Things like “user recognition,” magazine disconnects – which disable a gun when the magazine is removed – and internal safety locks can malfunction or operate in a way that makes the gun unusable in an emergency.
Only the user has the right to decide whether a particular feature is an asset or a liability for the expected use of the firearm.
It is significant that law enforcement experts and line officers have roundly rejected incorporation of most of these “safety” features in their duty weapons. They understand that their life and safety depends on the firearms functioning flawlessly whenever called upon, and they are not willing to compromise that functionality for the sake of political correctness. Neither am I.
The Bloomies of Everytown have been flooding the internet with heart wrenching video ads blaming “the gun lobby” for firearm tragedies and suggesting that only legislation can prevent ignorant children from accessing the guns of irresponsible gun owners. Their campaign boils down to the idea that these people who store their guns irresponsibly – without concern for their children – will change their behavior if you pass a law. And these same people invariably oppose even voluntary education of children in the basics of firearm safety, like the NRA’s Eddie Eagle Gun Safe program which teaches the simple message that “If you find a gun, Stop! Don’t touch! Leave the area! Tell an adult!”
The Bloomies and their allies do nothing to promote gun safety, but instead use “gun safety” as a bludgeon for beating up the very people who actually teach gun safety. It is possible that some new firearm owners don’t take advantage of available training opportunities because of the vilification of the NRA and gun safety programs by politicians and the media.
For decades gun owners have been doing the responsible thing, learning, obeying, and sharing the rules of gun safety, and reducing firearm-related deaths and injuries. It is up to all of us to keep that trend going by seeking training, encouraging training, teaching age appropriate firearm safety to all of our children – whether they are expected to ever actually handle firearms or not – and by always, actively practicing the four rules of gun safety whenever we handle firearms. For information on training opportunities in your area, ask your neighborhood gun shop or visit www.Training.NRA.org or www.NSSF.org/Safety.
Too many people rely on movies and television for their firearm training. Sales clerks in gun stores are also notorious for rule breaking – something the industry needs to work on. (Photo courtesy of The Walking Dead, AMC)
©2014 The Firearms Coalition, all rights reserved. Reprinting, posting, and distributing permitted with inclusion of this copyright statement. www.FirearmsCoalition.org.
The Firearms Coalition is a loose-knit coalition of individual Second Amendment activists, clubs and civil rights organizations. Founded by Neal Knox in 1984, the organization provides support to grassroots activists in the form of education, analysis of current issues, and with a historical perspective of the gun rights movement. The Firearms Coalition is a project of Neal Knox Associates, Manassas, VA. Visit: www.FirearmsCoalition.org