Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Education Is The Solution

Let me start out by saying I am beyond fanatical about gun safety. My choice to be armed carries with it an awesome responsibility. Any lapses of proper gun handling and safety control not only have the potential to destroy my life or that of somebody else, but also reflect on the character of every other gun owner in the country. When anyone with a gun screws up, we are all equally condemned by the media and in the court of public opinion.

So I make real damn sure I observe correct safety protocols at all times.

The late, great guru of the combat 1911, Col. Jeff Cooper, created four simple rules of gun safety that would, if followed without exception, prevent 100% of those tragic accidents involving firearms that end up on the news and cause politicians to yammer for still more gun laws.

These rules are:
  1. Treat all guns as if they are always loaded.
  2. Never point a gun at anything you do not intend to destroy.
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target and you are ready to shoot.
  4. Always be sure of your target and what is behind it.
I was trained in the intolerant world of "There Is No Such Thing As An ACCIDENTAL DISCHARGE." There are only NEGLIGENT discharges, because any time a gun goes bang when it shouldn't have, the person holding it was negligent in some way. Either one or more of the Four Rules were broken, or the gun was mechanically defective, or the shooter did not understand the gun's manual of arms, which is - guess what? - also negligent.

Guns do not just go off. Let me repeat that louder. GUNS DO NOT JUST GO OFF.

(They also don't go out late at night by themselves and commit crimes without human involvement, but that's a subject for a whole 'nother rant.)

Every time you hear about a kid who brings an AKM to a party(!) and the gun "goes off," it's because he didn't obey the Four Rules . . . among other things. Every time you hear about a sixteen year old kid handling a hunting rifle and it "goes off," killing his thirteen year old cousin, it's because he didn't obey the Four Rules . . . among other things. And every time kids get in trouble mishandling guns, it's because the adults responsible for raising them to be responsible members of society missed a very, very important part of their jobs!

Teaching their kids about gun safety.

Can you tell this crap upsets me?

Thinking children (or teenagers, or anyone for that matter) will be safe around guns by ignoring gun safety is a deadly mistake. Even if you don't own guns, or even rank among those who really do believe they're evil talismans like Sauron's One Ring, you cannot guarantee your children will never encounter a gun outside of your home. Unfortunately, the Authorities who see education as the solution to everything else somehow don't extend this premise to guns.
"We teach children guns are bad." - Omaha Public Schools official spokesperson at a City Council public hearing on whether to allow concealed carry in Omaha in accordance with state law
These same gun-hating-and-fearing Authorities are horrified by the National Rifle Association's Eddie Eagle GunSafe© Program. This excellent program teaches children in pre-K through third grade four important steps to take if they find a gun:
    STOP!
    Don't touch!
    Leave the area!
    Tell an adult!
This should be as much a part of every child's basic training as "the stove is hot" and "the knife is sharp." You don't eliminate the kitchen from your house, you teach your children how to behave in it.

You cannot kid-proof guns. You cannot kid-proof pretty much anything, because kids are smart, active, and curious. Kathy Jackson's superb website The Cornered Cat, outlines the very comprehensive method she's used to gun-proof her kids. That's how it works, folks.

And what if you're the adult your (or somebody else's) child comes to for help when s/he finds a gun, and you don't know what to do?

Kathy Jackson has excellent advice for that, too.

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