“Teen kills himself while taking gun selfie.” That’s what the headline said.
Two questions come to mind: What can we learn from this tragedy? How can we reduce the chance of it happening again?
Frankly, the answer to the first question has to be “ignorance can be deadly.” The answer to the second question is simple (though not necessarily easy).
Of course, there are plenty of “arm chair experts” on the internet with comments about the character of the victim.
In my case, I don’t know much about him. He was a young man, 19 years old. And he apparently behaved like many others in the urban culture. In that culture, taking a selfie with a gun is, presumably, a status symbol.
In the gun community this type of event is not called an accident. Instead, we call it a negligent discharge.
Negligence is “a failure to take the care that a responsible person usually takes; lack of normal care or attention.” *
Education is the Answer
A child learns to avoid getting burned by a hot stove, getting cut by a knife or getting hit by a passing car by either experience (getting burned, cut or hit) or by parents teaching him/her.
These dangers are usually taught early in life and emphasized with stories or explanations that are delivered with significant emotions attached.
When it comes to firearms, a child (or anyone else) may not get a second chance to learn through experience.
So teaching them how to safety handle firearms (with significant emotions attached) is the way to avoid the potential tragedy of a negligent discharge.
The Importance of Gun Safety
I know, I know…even a few “educated” gun owners behave negligently. But since they have been taught the firearm safety rules, they have at least been given an opportunity to know how to handle firearms safely. And, for them, ignorance is no excuse for their carelessness.
However, if someone has never been taught the basic rules of firearm safety how will they know if they are being negligent?
Take the third rule listed below, for example. Many, many uneducated people will automatically put their finger on the trigger when they pick up a gun.
I see it happen all the time. It’s in the movies. It’s in the media. It happens with some of the first-time students in my firearm training classes.
These people don’t realize that they’re being unsafe. It’s something they need to learn through firearm safety education.
For those of you who may not know them, the main firearm safety rules are:
- Treat all guns as if they are loaded.
- Never point a gun at anything you are not willing to destroy.
- Keep your finger off the trigger and out of the trigger guard until you are ready to shoot.
- Know your target and what is beyond.
Where Do We Place the Blame?
Some will blame the culture for this tragedy (with some justification). Some will blame the Second Amendment (with no justification).
But the real blame is an uneducated, ignorant segment of our society that is unwilling to admit that we must teach our children to “not touch the hot stove.” In other words, how to safely handle firearms.
Not teaching our children the real dangers of life, including firearm safety, is negligence. Plain and simple.