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Handle with care: Guns are dangerous tools, treat them with respect

By: Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times

Let me start this right off the bat by saying, I support the Second Amendment. I have been hunting and shooting for nearly 40 of my 45 years on this earth. I killed my first deer with a .50 caliber muzzle loader, and I’ve been carrying a gun in the woods since I was 7 or 8-years-old. I’ve also used the distinctive sound of a pump shotgun chambering a shell to send a prowler fleeing from my home. 

I support a person’s right to defend themselves, to defend their home and family, and to participate in shooting sports and hunting. Don’t doubt it. 

That said, I see a lot of folks who claim to be shooting enthusiasts or “military trained” weapon handlers who, frankly, need to review some of the basics of safe handling. Look at the recent controversy surrounding a couple in a gated community who pulled weapons on demonstrators. My dad taught me to never point a gun at something unless you intended to shoot it. (And to never shoot something unless you planned to eat it or it was trying to eat you; which is a different, if no less important, lesson.) These two, though, are both pointing weapons directly at the protesters. 

The woman had her finger on the trigger of her handgun. That’s a no-no until you’re ready to squeeze that trigger. It doesn’t matter if you have the gun on safety or not. Fingers off the trigger until it’s time to fire. 

The husband fares little better. He might not have his finger directly on the trigger, but he is holding his rifle down, as if he planned to shoot from the hip. You have very little control shooting like that. There is a reason we use the term “shooting from the hip” to indicate impetuous actions or words that weren’t fully thought out. Can you hit what you want when shooting from the hip? Maybe. Do you have the same control, in terms of aim and controlling recoil, that you do when he put the stock of that weapon against your shoulder? No way. 

Then there is the guy who literally hit me in the head with his shotgun barrel on Sunday. It’s the first lesson every kid should get when they start hunting with others – be aware of where your barrel is pointing and make sure it isn’t at other people. When I felt this barrel bump the back of my head I turned to see a shotgun pointed directly at my face. I took a finger, pushed it aside, and asked the owner if he could practice better control of his weapon. I wanted him to hitch it up, keeping it standing straight up instead of slouching to the side toward others. Did he listen? No. He belligerently told me to move if I didn’t want his gun pointing at me. 

This is a problem. This is why people get accidentally shot, as happened in Louisville last week. And this is why folks don’t trust just anyone to open carry. It’s your right to carry, this is true and undeniable. But it’s also your responsibility to do it safely. Please do so. 

Jeremy D. Wells can be reached at editor@cartercountytimes.com

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