Need to nag until people smarten up

By Larry Simoneaux

I hate repeating the obvious, but there are times when the obvious bears repeating.

That said, I thought I’d write this one so that, later, we could move on to matters of much higher import such as “What are the Kardashians (proof positive that aliens are visiting) doing?”, the latest “entertainment” feats of Miley Cyrus, or the recent “Duck Dynasty” imbroglio.

On New Year’s Day, I found a short article in this newspaper entitled: “Terrace woman hurt in accidental shooting.” The article described how a young woman had been taken to Harborview Medical Center “with non life-threatening injuries to her abdomen and leg.” Said injuries occurred while her husband had been trying to put away a “recently received” handgun.

Were this incident an exceedingly rare occurrence, one could let it go with only an affirmative nod regarding Einstein’s observation that “Only two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.”

Unfortunately, the litany of accidental shootings also seems infinite. A sampling of recent articles from (only) this newspaper seemingly supports that premise. To wit: “Spokane Valley boy shot by grandfather,” “Suspect in fatal Tacoma shooting charged,” “Grouse hunter shoots self in leg,” “Vancouver man shoots self in hand.” And so forth, and so on.

These all come from the latter part of 2013. Cast a wider net and you get such gems as “Accidental shooting injures 1 at Arlington Cemetery” and much more.

To those new to this paper, please understand that I’m not an anti-firearm proselytizer. In fact, as regular readers know, I’m just the opposite. I’m a hunter, a shooter, a reloader, an NRA Life Member, an instructor, and someone who probably owns more rifles than others might consider “necessary” — a topic for another column.

No, I’m writing because, like most firearm owners, I hate reading these stories. In fact, we probably hate reading them more than those who dislike or who do not own firearms themselves. The reason is that we know that every such story paints us with a broad brush and, more importantly, that every such incident could likely have been prevented by simply following the adage of “engaging brain” before handling any firearm.

Unfortunately, firearm “accidents” generally occur in the same manner as do other types of “accidents.”

Experienced and careful woodworkers would never allow children to handle “dangerous” power tools and would strongly urge newcomers to the hobby to be extremely cautious. And, yet, fingers, eyes, and other appendages take regular beatings around such tools.

Parents would never walk away from pots of boiling water, fail to cover exposed electrical outlets, or leave household cleaners or filled water buckets near where toddlers (and even older children) roam. And, yet, accidents involving such still occur.

Pool owners, automotive hobbyists, gardeners with gasoline-powered tools, and homeowners doing “simple” chores using ladders and such all have their stories.

The reason for this is that we humans are ingenious in finding ways to injure ourselves or others when we’re less attentive than we need to be.

Still, we firearm owners need to be particularly vigilant since the tools we use are designed to emit projectiles that follow the known laws of physics at eye-watering speeds with absolutely no consideration for whom or what may be in their path.

And, so, here’s the endlessly repetitive “nag.” It’s here because, again, like most firearm owners, I’m tired of reading about such incidents when we know that they can be prevented.

It’s here because we know that a small minority of firearm owners continue to do incomprehensible things. It’s here because we hate explaining that firearms aren’t evil and that the majority of firearm owners are safety fanatics of the highest order.

However, until we can refute Einstein’s observation and, in order to prevent such stories, whenever a firearm is handled, we need to be constantly aware of where they’re pointed, consider them “loaded” at all times, keep our fingers away from triggers, have safeties engaged, lock them away when not in use, and always consider the awful consequences of doing otherwise.

It’s really not that hard.

Is it?

Larry Simoneaux lives in Edmonds. Send comments to: