While watching a young man and his father at an area gun range this week, a serious thought crossed my mind: Why can’t schools or local groups teach gun safety to school-aged kids as part of a standard education? It could be a program that parents need to sign a permission slip for, just like with some other events offered. I’m sure the local sheriff’s department might consider sponsoring. What better time to teach safety?
The course wouldn’t need to include a shooting lesson, but it does need to teach how simple knowledge about gun safety can mean the difference between life and death.
While at the range I was challenged with keeping my mouth shut. For those of you who know me, this wasn’t an easy thing to do. I watched a father intimidate his son (a boy about 8 years old) by heckling him into trying to shoot a 12 gauge shot gun that was clearly not a youth model and designed for home defense, not hunting. He kept telling the child that girls could shoot the gun; and therefore, he better not let a girl show him up. What is this, the 1800s?
I was outraged by the panic in the child’s eyes and the bully tactic his father was using. I hope this isn’t a common event for young folks when learning how to shoot a gun. (No offense, men, but sometimes being cool and tough are more important than being smart and calm). The man was erratic, loud, and a perfect candidate for someone getting hurt around him — and he was teaching his son the same terrible habits he had acquired. It was heartbreaking and frightening.
Basic range safety:
Rule number one: Always treat a gun as if it is loaded and ready to be fired.
Rule number two:Always point the barrel of a firearm at the ground when walking or waiting.
Rule number three:If you are not shooting, make sure your gun is open and unloaded. Do not stand behind someone while holding your gun or loading your gun.
Rule number four:Always wear protective eye gear and hearing protection. Remember, ladies, do not wear an open top where hot brass can land — and quickly distract you!
Rule number five:Do not offer an inexperienced shooter a firearm unless they have been properly trained in gun safety. An accident takes less than one second!
Rule number six:Save the “show off” tactics for playing video games. Loud, erratic behavior is not safe.
Rule number seven:Remember just because a magazine is not in a pistol, does NOT mean a round is not in the chamber. This is a common reason people shoot themselves or others. Take time and be thorough. You only need to be wrong once.
Remember knowledge is power and may also save the life of someone you love.
Dorothy Royal is the owner of Surf City Guns and Ammo, mother of two wonderful children, ringmaster of a herd of miniature ponies and an avid member of the Surf City Writers Group and Topsail Book Club.