Guns are commonly seenÂ in South Dakota homes.
Most, like the shotgun that was reportedly accidentally discharged Saturday night, killing a 19-year-old Mitchell man, are hunting weapons. There are also rifles and handguns that serveÂ many purposes, either for hunting, target practice or personal protection.
One thing that is drilled into people’s heads is that all guns are loaded at all times. I know I heard that at our farm, where Dad kept a shotgun or two and a small-gauge rifle in the house. The Lawrence kids were told never to touch them and we kept our distance.
Guns are never playthings. The 21-year-old man who was drunk when he fired the shotgun probably knew that and definitely does now. It’s just a tragic situation for all involved.
Here’s some basic gun safety tips we’ve put together for Tuesday’s paper:Â
Gun safety rules must never be relaxed, according to gun experts.
Always remember that guns are inherently dangerous and command respect. Here is a list of rules when handing a firearm.
Always treat a gun as if itâ€™s loaded. Always.
Never point a gun at another person, even if you think itâ€™s unloaded.
Never handle or shoot under the influence of alcohol or of drugs that impair your motor skills or judgment.
Do not transport a loaded gun. Even if the law says itâ€™s OK, it could accidentally discharge.
Never store a loaded gun in a safe or cabinet. Keep the enclosure locked.
Point the muzzle in a safe direction (upward or downrange).
Keep your finger off the trigger until youâ€™re ready to shoot.
Wear ear and eye protection.
Use the proper ammunition.
Keep the barrel clear of obstructions. If you have a misfire, check the barrel for a stuck wad or hull. Donâ€™t clear the barrel by firing a fresh load through it.
Be aware whatâ€™s beyond the target. If thereâ€™s any doubt, donâ€™t shoot.
Unload a gun when cleaning it. Maintain and clean it regularly.
Be aware of hunting partners and dogs.
Wear safety orange at all times when hunting.
Put a gunâ€™s safety back on after the game has flushed.
Keep your emotions in check. Remember, you and your companions are armed.
Never shoot into water. Something hard under the surface could deflect the shot in a dangerous direction.
Donâ€™t climb or jump over anything with a loaded gun.
Instill in children that guns are not toys. They are extremely dangerous. When it comes to guns, children must distinguish between reality and fantasy.
Replace the mystique of the gun with knowledge and discipline.