Good, but Not Good Enough

In November of last year, in McMinn County, Tennessee, a 13 year old boy was attempting to unload a rifle and accidentally shot and killed his 17 year old sister.  Incidents like this frustrate me terribly because they are 100 percent preventable.  There is no reason that this should ever happen.  As a gun owner and parent, gun safety is something about which I am passionate.  I demand safe gun handling in my house and anywhere else that I go where firearms are being handled.  Its actually very easy to handle modern firearms safely.  Its almost impossible to make one fire without actually pulling the trigger.  And yet we still have accidents.  I think that’s unacceptable.

The good news is that incidents of unintended injuries and deaths caused by firearms is at an all-time low.  According to the 2016 report on firearms related injuries issued by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (, the incidence of unintended fatalities involving a firearm have decreased 57 percent over the last 20 years.  In 2013, 586 unintended fatalities out of 136,053 involved a firearm, or 0.4 percent.  Keep in mind that there are approximately 350 MILLION guns in the U.S., but only 586 unintended fatalities involved a firearm.  Only 0.6 percent, or 400, of the 69,500 unintended fatalities that occurred in the home involved a firearm.  The news is also good when it comes to unintended fatalities involving children (14 years of age and under).  In the last 20 years, the incidence of unintended deaths of children involving a child decreased 73 percent.  Only 1.3 percent (50) of the 3,857 unintended fatalities of children involved a firearm.  Almost every other sport is more dangerous than shooting.  A cheerleader is 29 times more likely to be injured than a hunter with a firearm!

Those numbers are undeniable proof that, by and large, gun owners are safely handling and storing their firearms.  Modern firearms are manufactured to be as safe as possible and still be useable.  Training programs provided by the NSSF and the National Rifle Association are working to make people safer.  This is great news, but we can do better.  These numbers should be zero.

The way to accomplish this is training.  Training takes many forms, from formal classes to a parent instructing their child to all of us correcting people that we see at the range doing something unsafe.  Parents, it is incumbent on you to teach your children how to behave around a firearm.  I don’t care if you think guns are inherently evil and should be eradicated from the earth.  If you pretend like they don’t exist and that your child will never be around them, you are drastically increasing their odds of injuring themselves or someone else.  Children are naturally curious and you simply can’t control their environment all the time.  You do have control over your firearms and it is your responsibility to control access to them.  It takes some thought, but there are ways to keep them away from your kids but accessible to you.  The other way to tame that curiosity is to familiarize your kids with firearms.  If you aren’t comfortable doing that or don’t have that knowledge yourself, then find a trusted friend that can.  If you ask me to help you with this process, I will not say no.  At a minimum, your kids must know that they are never to handle a firearm without you present and that they should tell an adult immediately if they find one.

As for formal classes, I am not for mandatory training.  “Mandatory” requires some form of governmental involvement.  We’ve got plenty of that already.  But I would like to see gun sellers offer free classes on basic gun safety with the sale of every firearm, especially those buying their first gun.  New shooters should seek out a formal class or consult with a friend that has experience with firearms.  Again, if you ask I will help you.

Being safe with firearms comes back to the Four Rules of Gun Safety.  Many of you will know them by heart, but for those that might not be familiar, they are:  1. All guns are always loaded; 2. Never point a gun at anything that you aren’t willing to destroy; 3. Do not touch the trigger until your sites are on target and you are ready to shoot; and 4. Be sure of your target, what is around it, and what is beyond it.

If everyone would follow these four simple rules, there would be no negligent discharges, and therefore, no unintended injuries or deaths involving firearms.  But break just one of these rules, something bad can happen.  Break more than one and it’s almost guaranteed.  Anytime that I hear of a negligent discharge because “the gun went off”, my immediate thought is “bull”!  Guns do not, will not, CAN NOT go off unless the trigger is pressed or there is a major mechanical malfunction.  Given the quality of modern firearms, the latter seldom happens.  People get injured because other people break one or more of those four simple rules.

If you don’t know, I’m a competitive pistol shooter and I carry concealed every day.  I handle a pistol a lot.  I took a training class a few years ago with a Grand Master level shooter.  At the end of a drill, I was preparing to holster my pistol and I forgot that I still had a round in the chamber and I failed to clear it.  We always drop the hammer before we holster, as another layer of safety.  When I pulled the trigger, it went bang, much to the chagrin of my instructor and my embarrassment!  Fortunately, I was obeying the other rules and no one was injured and no damage was done, other than to my nerves.  I tell you this to emphasize that even those of us who handle firearms every day need to be aware of our safety.  It takes one lapse of attention to make a major mistake.

The bottom line is that the shooting sports are some of the safest activities in which you can participate.  But when injuries do occur, they tend to be serious and often involve innocent bystanders.  American gun owners do a great job of keeping themselves and those around them safe.  I’m very proud of that.  But we can do better.  Every single negligent discharge is preventable.  Let’s work to make the number of unintended injuries involving a firearm zero.

You Did This

It has been a while since I last wrote, but I’ve been thinking about this post for quite a while.  After the presidential primaries, I kept asking myself how we came to be in a situation where Hillary and Trump were our major party candidates.  Ever since Trump was elected, I’ve tried to understand how he won.  I honestly did not expect him to win. With the media squarely on her side and not even bothering to pretend otherwise, I thought it was a forgone conclusion. I personally felt like he was the “least terrible” of the choices, but that’s about it.  Now that he has taken office, I’ve seen several conversations discussing why he won.  It’s usually chalked up to Hillary being female, the FBI, Russians, aliens, or any number of other ridiculous excuses.

So what led us to a point where Trump seemed like the better choice?  How could he win a free election when very few people honestly liked him?  Sadly, it comes down to anger; an anger that has been simmering and building over the last 8 years as the social fabric of this country has been torn apart.  What does that mean?  It means that the Obama administration and all of the people that supported him are directly responsible for the election of Donald J. Trump to the office of President.

The so-called Affordable Care Act is a case in point.  There was a completely unnecessary rush to pass that bill that completely ignored alternative ideas that were put forward.  We end up with a giant bill that not one person read prior to having to vote on it.  It got crammed down our throats and now thousands of people that were paying for their own health insurance either can’t afford it or are getting half the benefits for twice the cost.  If you supported that, you did this.

The left lost its collective mind when the president of Chick Fil A stated that he supported traditional marriage. He didn’t say that he hated gay people.  There was no indication at all of any sort of discrimination toward the company’s employees or customers.  But that didn’t matter.  Those that do the most yelling about tolerance once again showed that their rhetoric doesn’t apply to themselves.  Boycotts and demonstrations were held in an effort to damage his company, never mind that the damage would be felt only by his employees.  And don’t forget that many of those employees were getting help paying for college by this hateful company.  But that didn’t matter.  If you were one of those boycotting Chick Fil A, you did this.

In 2014, 18 year old Michael Brown assaulted a convenience store clerk in Ferguson, Missouri, and stole a handful of cigarillos.  As he strolled down the middle of a public road, he was stopped by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson.  Brown chose to ignore the officer’s instructions, then decided to fight him.  The result was that Officer Wilson had to shoot Brown, who was killed.  As it happens, Brown was black and Wilson was white.  Instead of waiting to find out what actually happened, the media immediately assumed that shooting was racially motivated.  There was no evidence of that being the case, but it made a good story and they went with it.  Their attacks on Wilson and the Ferguson Police Department helped fuel riots that destroyed numerous businesses and led to several nights of violence.  Obama called for the nation “to remember this young man through reflection and understanding” and offered sympathy to his family.  No such sympathy was offered to Officer Wilson, whose life was destroyed because he did his job.  The entire incident was investigated, as it should be, and Wilson was found to have not been at fault.  All of this was just a waste.

Sadly, this scenario would become all too familiar in the months to come.  Every time an officer, who happened to be white, had a violent confrontation with a criminal, who happened to be not white, it was assumed that the officer was a racist pig and vilified immediately.  The media went out of its way to show video out of context to convict the officer in the court of public opinion and this was continuously supported by Obama.  This shameful situation has led directly to the deaths of police officers across the country as militant thugs feel justified in attacking those whose job is to protect them.  Those of you that supported the unrest in Ferguson and Obama’s handling of that mess, you did this.

Gun owners constitute a major block of voters, and tend to actually do just that.  They also tend to be responsible, law-abiding citizens.  But if you actually believe anything that was said about gun owners by the Obama administration and his pets in the media, you’d never know that.  During his administration, he lost no chance to place the blame for any crime committed with a gun squarely on the estimated 44% of Americans that legally own a firearm and never commit a crime with it.  It wasn’t the criminal, terrorist, or maniac.  It wasn’t the deplorable state of mental health care.  It wasn’t activist judges releasing criminals from jail.  No, it was you, the legal gun owner.  The only solution ever discussed by his administration was expanded restrictions on ownership.  And since very few people actually supported those ideas, he tried backdoor attacks in the form of pressuring banks to illegally deny loans to businesses in the gun industry.  His justice department thought it was fine to send guns to Mexican drug lords in some crusade to prove that American gun shops were supplying the guns, which proved to be false and directly resulted in the death of at least one American Border Patrol agent.  If you supported any of this madness, you did this.

In 2009, a US Army officer murdered 14 of his fellow soldiers in cold blood at Fort Hood, Texas.  As he started shooting, he yelled “allahu akbar”, the favorite battle cry of Islamic terrorists everywhere.  It was proven that he had been in contact with Al Queda operatives just prior to his attack.  But Obama declared it to be a case of “work place violence”.  It was only years later that he finally admitted that it was terrorism.  In July 2015, four Marines and one Sailor were murdered in Chattanooga, Tennessee by a young, Islamic devotee of Anwar Awlaki. His attack was obviously carefully planned.  It would be months before the administration would finally admit that, yet again, US citizens had died at the hands of radical Islamic terrorists on US soil.  Now, it is an absolute fact that the vast majority of American Muslims are peaceful citizens.  We all know that.  But there are cases where the worst of their faith have influenced others, convincing them that they are somehow doing something righteous by committing murder.  But the Obama administration was too busy trying to convince us all that terrorism wasn’t happening here, and if there was, it was somehow our fault.  If you think that calling a radical Islamic terrorist a radical Islamic terrorist is somehow intolerant or somehow anyone’s fault but his own, then you did this.

After 8 years of Obama and his cronies, there were a whole lot of us that were tired of it.  We were tired of being made the scapegoat for every bad thing that happened while no attention was paid to those that actually caused the problem.  It was obvious that Clinton promised only 4 more years of the same.  For me personally, I voted for Trump only because I did not think that the best thing for this country was four more years of wedges being driven between us based on race, religion, or economic status.  For some, Trump’s angry rhetoric mirrored their own anger at the situation that we find ourselves in, and I understand that, too.  So how did Trump get elected? If you supported Obama and his administration and their divisive policies, you did it.