Friday, December 08, 2006

The Importance of Firearm Safety

The Weblog Awards have driven a lot of new traffic to this site (Hi folks, thanks for stopping by), which gives me another opportunity to highlight the importance of proper firearm safety. An article in today's Star Telegram illustrates what happens when a person does not take firearm safety seriously. In this particular incident, a woman broke all four rules of safe firearm handling.

FORT WORTH - A 47-year-old man who was shot in the head Wednesday night during an exchange about whether he could smoke inside a friend's house died Thursday afternoon, authorities said.
This incident just occurred this week. The families of both the victim and the woman who caused his death are both still in shock and grieving their loss. I am using this incident as an example for others. Maybe someone will read this, take these lessons to heart, and prevent a future negligent shooting. Please keep any comments civil and respectful to the families grief.

Margore Carter, 49, was arrested Thursday evening by members of the U.S. Marshal's Task Force at a relative's home in Arlington, police said. She faces a murder charge.

Witnesses told police that Williams was drinking with Carter, her sister and the sister's husband in her house in the 3200 block of Todd Avenue.

About 8 p.m., the sister's husband suggested that Williams should go outside to smoke, homicide Detective Tom Boetcher said. Williams refused.

A witness said that "the suspect then jokingly stated that she had something that would make him go outside," Boetcher said.

Carter went to her bedroom and returned with a gun, investigators said.
Mistake number one. Alcohol and firearms do not mix. Granted, this would not have been a fatal mistake had the four rules of firearm safety been followed, but alcohol affects common sense as well as the sense of responsibility. If you are drinking, keep your hands off the guns.

Acting Sgt. Mike Carroll said she first aimed the gun at a window near Williams and pulled the trigger. The gun just clicked.

"From the other witnesses' statements, they all thought she was kind of playing around," Carroll said. "She then walks up to him, puts it to his head and pulls the trigger, and it does go off.

"According to her, she was surprised."

This incident should not have happened, it could have been easily prevented by following the four basic rules of firearm safety.

Boetcher said the case should serve as a reminder of the importance of gun safety.

"People should be aware that all weapons can be deadly -- whether the gun is believed to be loaded or unloaded," he said. "And people are responsible for their actions if their reckless conduct results in someone's death."

So, what are the four rules of firearm safety?

Rule #1 - Every firearm is loaded. Notice that I did not say "Treat every firearm as if it were loaded". NO, every firearm is loaded. Do not act like a firearm is loaded, believe it. Until you check personally, visually and by feel, that a firearm is unloaded, it has a round in the chamber and is ready to fire. Note from this incident that just because the gun does not fire with the first trigger pull means that it is unloaded.

Rule #2 - Never let the muzzle of a firearm point at anything you are not willing to destroy. This is probably the rule I see broken the most at gun shows and shops. Never, ever, cross a person with the barrel of a firearm. Never, ever, cross a part of your own body with the barrel of a firearm. Accidental shootings would not happen if this were followed 100% of the time.

Rule #3 - Keep your finger off the trigger unless your sights are on the target. Do not place your finger on the trigger until you are ready to fire your firearm. Sights on the target means you have the firearm aimed at the target/bad guy/whatever and are ready to fire. You gain no speed by putting your finger on the trigger as you unholster your firearm. (hint, hint to the above officers). Negligent discharges would never happen if this rule was followed 100% of the time.

Rule #4 - Be sure of your target and what is behind it. Be aware of your surroundings. Be sure of your target. Never shoot at sounds or at objects that you can not positively identify. Know what surrounds your target, and what is behind it. Again, be aware of your surroundings whether on a range, in the woods, or in a potentially lethal conflict.

For more information on gun safety, visit Fr. Frogs Pad

Make safe firearm handling an ingrained habit, something you do as a matter of course. Teach these safe habits to anyone who may have access to your firearms and an incident like this will not become a part of your life.

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