With the opening of deer season throughout the US, we must brace ourselves for the firearms accident reports that will start to filter in. A father mistakes his son for a deer. A driver is injured by a stray bullet. A rifle goes off in a truck cab, necessitating the amputation of a young hunter's leg. Firearms accidents can be some of the most horrendous and heartrending news stories. A pleasant day out hunting is ruined by an accident and lives are changed forever.
Yes, I accept the inevitability of firearms accidents, but I contend that the vast majority of them could be prevented by people just using their heads.
I read recently of a man who was killed in what was referred to in the article as a "freak hunting accident" in which he was shot in both legs when a rifle which was propped against a vehicle fell and discharged when it hit the ground.
I have to disagree with whoever called it a "freak hunting accident." Folks, that was no freak, but a logical result of someone violating basic firearms safety rules.
One of the first things I told my sons and anyone else I've introduced to hunting, and something I've repeated to them often is, "There is no deer big enough to be worth taking a chance on killing another human being!" In other words, "Don't violate basic firearms safety rules for ANY reason."
To keep things simple, I taught my sons to treat every firearm as if it is loaded and capable of going off at any time. I taught them to keep firearms pointed in a safe direction at all times. And I taught them to NEVER point a firearm at anything they were not willing to destroy.
There are more rules as outlined by the National Rifle Association at http://training.nra.org/nra-gun-safety-rules.aspx. I urge you to read and follow those ALWAYS.
At this point, let me interject that my heart goes out to friends and family of the hunter in the earlier example. I know they are going through a pain I can only imagine.
Now for a harsh sounding statement. A firearm with a round in the chamber, propped against the side of a pickup, and perhaps even with the safety off, is not only NOT a freak accident but could arguably be considered asking for bad things to happen, or tempting fate at the very least. If it were someone besides the deceased who propped the rifle against the vehicle, it might even be considered negligent homicide.
Besides the aforementioned rules and guidelines, there are a few others that I think would drastically cut down on hunting and firearms accidents. I am intentionally leaving out self defense situations in these rules.
Never load a firearm unless you are actively hunting or preparing to practice with it, and unload it as soon as you are finished with either of those situations. That rule alone could have prevented the death of the man in the incident described earlier.
Never carry a loaded firearm in or on your vehicle. That should need no explanation.
Never put a loaded firearm into a situation that is out of a responsible person's control. This includes leaning it against an automobile or fence you are crossing as well as a plethora of other situations.
Never drink intoxicants or take mind-altering medications if you are going to handle firearms before they are completely worn off. I'm not a drinker but I do understand that lots of guys like to have a drink at the end of a day's hunting, and I'll leave that choice up to you since I believe it is legal everywhere in the US but, and I can't stress this enough, if you drink and hunt or handle a loaded firearm, you are a fool. My opinion.
As long as people use firearms, there will be firearms accidents. But I believe, if you follow the rules I mentioned above, and follow the rules outlined by the NRA, your odds of not having to endure the pain and horror of a firearm accident will be dramatically reduced.