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Safe gun handling keeps tragedy at bay

The horrifying shooting in Connecticut has spawned yet another predictable round of the blame game that follows every such event. The media, in general, have taken their usual position of blaming guns, and a raucous cacophony of the usual suspects is calling for reinstituting the failed assault weapons ban of 1994. Instead, let’s address something that does pay dividends: personal responsibility for safety with firearms.

One of the main tenets of gun safety is to keep firearms and ammunition inaccessible to unauthorized people. “Unauthorized people,” typically, refers to children but also includes mentally disturbed and dangerous people, such as Adam Lanza, the Connecticut shooter.

Lanza lived with his mother, Nancy Lanza, who, by all accounts, was a firearms enthusiast. It also appears Nancy Lanza was very concerned with the deterioration of Adam’s already disturbed condition – that she was “losing him.” Reports indicate Nancy Lanza had taken Adam shooting on a number of occasions, which is fine. However, Adam Lanza, almost certainly qualified as an unauthorized person to have free access to guns and ammunition, and it was his mother’s duty to keep them inaccessible to him. It is painfully obvious she failed in that responsibility.

A gun owner is duty-bound to keep all guns and ammunition inaccessible to unauthorized people at all times. It is perfectly acceptable to take children hunting or to the shooting range in a fully supervised environment, but it is totally unacceptable and negligent to allow any unauthorized person free access to one’s guns and ammunition. Familiarity can lead to complacency, which tends to lead to carelessness, which will lead to catastrophe.

Renew a commitment to unwavering adherence to fundamental gun safety rules, including:

•Treat all guns as loaded. Whether a gun is loaded or not does not change any of the safe gun-handling rules.

•Keep the gun’s muzzle pointed in the safest direction. Never point a gun at anything that cannot be repaired or replaced.

•Keep your finger off the trigger – and alongside the frame – unless ready to shoot.

•Keep all guns and ammunition inaccessible to unauthorized people.

Essentially, all gunshot “accidents” are not accidents at all; rather, they result from negligence: carelessly neglecting to observe gun safety imperatives.

Starting now, commit to obsessive adherence to gun safety rules.

Bob Aldridge, a Fort Wayne resident, is a National Rifle Association-certified firearms instructor. He wrote this for The Journal Gazette.