Firearm ownership and responsibilities

Firearms in the hands of immature or unstable individuals is a disaster.

For proof, you need to look no further than recent news headlines about the shootings that have occurred across the country.

In the hands of rational, balanced individuals, firearms are useful tools for hunting and personal protection.

That’s why we have consistently supported the Second Amendment.

Still, with gun ownership comes responsibility. Some 33 percent of U.S. households have a gun in the house.

Unfortunately, half of the gun owning households do not properly securing their guns, Michigan State Police officials said.

To rectify that situation, the State Police is seeking to educate parents, guardians and gun owners about the simple precautions they can take to keep children safe.

According to the Center for Child Disease Control, 1,337 American children under age 18 died as the result of a gunshot in 2010.

Incidents such as this may be prevented if gun owners take more precautions and parents and guardians talk to children about gun safety.

“Parents and guardians need to educate their children about what to do if they see a gun, said Community Service Trooper Geno Basanese of the Iron Mountain Post.

“If a child finds a gun they must stop what they’re doing, do not touch the gun, leave the area and tell an adult,” Basanese said.

There are also other ways to keep firearms safe. Michigan State Police offers the following safety tips for gun owners:

– Store firearms in a locked cabinet, safe, gun vault or storage case when not in use, ensuring the gun(s) is in a location inaccessible by children and cannot be handled by anyone without your permission.

– Remove ammunition from the firearm and store the ammunition in a locked location separate from the firearm.

– Store the key for the firearm case/cabinet and the ammunition in a different area from where you store household keys. Keep the keys out of the reach of children.

– Use a gun-locking device that renders the firearm inoperable when not in use. A gun lock should be used as an additional safety precaution and not as a substitute for secure storage.

– Gun-cleaning supplies are often poisonous, and should also be locked up to prevent access by children.

– Educate everyone in your household about firearms safety.

– All parents should talk to their children about the dangers of guns. Children should be told not to touch guns, and to tell an adult if they find a gun. Parents should also ask if guns are safely stored at places their children visit or play.

Below, the National Shooting Sports Association lists additional safety tips:

– Always Keep The Muzzle Pointed In A Safe Direction: This is the most basic safety rule. If everyone handled a firearm so carefully that the muzzle never pointed at something they didn’t intend to shoot, there would be virtually no firearms accidents. It’s as simple as that, and it’s up to you.

– Don’t Rely On Your Gun’s “Safety:” Treat every gun as though it can fire at any time. The “safety” on any gun is a mechanical device which, like any such device, can become inoperable at the worst possible time. Besides, by mistake, the safety may be “off” when you think it is “on.” The safety serves as a supplement to proper gun handling but cannot possibly serve as a substitute for common sense. You should never handle a gun carelessly and assume that the gun won’t fire just because the “safety is on.”

– Be Sure Of Your Target And What’s Beyond It: No one can call a shot back. Once a gun fires, you have given up all control over where the shot will go or what it will strike. Don’t shoot unless you know exactly what your shot is going to strike. Be sure that your bullet will not injure anyone or anything beyond your target. Be aware that even a 22 short bullet can travel over 11/4 miles and a high velocity cartridge, such as a 30-06, can send its bullet more than 3 miles. Shotgun pellets can travel 500 yards, and shotgun slugs have a range of over half a mile.

– Use Correct Ammunition: You must assume the serious responsibility of using only the correct ammunition for your firearm. Read and heed all warnings, including those that appear in the gun’s instruction manual and on the ammunition boxes. Using improper or incorrect ammunition can destroy a gun and cause serious personal injury. Form the habit of examining every cartridge you put into your gun. Never use damaged or substandard ammunition – the money you save is not worth the risk of possible injury or a ruined gun.

– If Your Gun Fails To Fire When The Trigger Is Pulled, Handle With Care: Occasionally, a cartridge may not fire when the trigger is pulled. If this occurs, keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction. Keep your face away from the breech. Then, carefully open the action, unload the firearm and dispose of the cartridge in a safe way.

– Always Wear Eye And Ear Protection When Shooting: All shooters should wear protective shooting glasses and some form of hearing protectors while shooting. Exposure to shooting noise can damage hearing, and adequate vision protection is essential.

– Be Sure The Barrel Is Clear Of Obstructions Before Shooting: Before you load your firearm, open the action and be certain that no ammunition is in the chamber or magazine. Be sure the barrel is clear of any obstruction. Even a small bit of mud, snow, excess lubricating oil or grease in the bore can cause dangerously increased pressures, causing the barrel to bulge or even burst on firing, which can cause injury to the shooter and bystanders.

– Don’t Alter Or Modify Your Gun, And Have Guns Serviced Regularly: Firearms are complicated mechanisms that are designed by experts to function properly in their original condition.

– Learn The Mechanical And Handling Characteristics Of The Firearm You Are Using: Not all firearms are the same. The method of carrying and handling firearms varies in accordance with the mechanical characteristics of each gun. Since guns can be so different, never handle any firearm without first having thoroughly familiarized yourself with the particular type of firearm you are using, the safe gun handling rules for loading, unloading, carrying and handling that firearm, and the rules of safe gun handling in general. Having a gun in your possession is a full-time job. You cannot guess; you cannot forget.