Firearms are serious tools, handle them safely

Franklin Annis

The Student Pit continues to build the student community by offering exciting events like the game Gotcha! Gotcha! is a game of stalking fellow players on campus trying to gain the opportunity to shoot them with a Nerf gun. The ultimate goal is to successfully stalk other players and avoid being stalked yourself until you are the “last man standing.” I am surprised modern college students were allowed to run around campus carrying toy guns or wearing them in holsters.

The toy guns got me thinking about the actual firearms many people use in their lives. I believe that toy guns, even Nerf guns, can be good tools to teach how to handle a real firearm.

I have always been a proponent of firearms and have carried them for many years. I have come to realize that a firearm is nothing more than a tool.

A firearm is no more to be feared than a hammer. However any tool misused can harm and potentially kill the user or those around them.

While firearms are prohibited on campus, I know there are people who possess them off-campus, as well as those who may own them in the future. Here are some firearm safety rules I have picked up through the years that have served me well. While they are not the typical gun safety rules, they are very realistic and effective. They will serve you well with both your toy and real weapon systems.

First, never point your weapon at anything you do not want to kill or destroy. This requires a constant awareness of the direction your barrel is pointed. The muzzle of the weapon should be pointed down and slightly forward of the shooter without being in line with any friendly personnel or equipment.

Second, keep your finger off the trigger unless you are killing something. Weapons extremely rarely will discharge by themselves. The biggest cause of “negligent discharges” is careless trigger fingers.

The reason why this rule is so important is, in times of high-stress, an individual loses fine muscle movement. A shooter can apply significant force to fire a weapon during high-stress with only the sensation of having a finger resting on the trigger. So, either rest your finger against the side of the weapon above the trigger guard (which is preferred) or rest your finger against the front of the trigger guard.

Third, never trust the safety. Mechanical safeties fail quite often. A safety alone is never significant enough to ensure the safe handling of a firearm. For example, I used to work for a one-legged gunsmith. He lost his leg when his son pulled the trigger on a weapon that had its safety on.

Fourth, treat any firearm as if it were always loaded. My grandfather stored his weapons loaded because it forced him to always be cognitive that firearms are never really “safe.” Countless deaths occur in this country and in the military by weapons that were assumed to be unloaded.

Finally, keep your weapon clean. Just like any tool, a firearm only works if it is kept in the proper condition. If you ever find yourself in a situation where you carry a weapon for self-defense, you do not want to wait until you pull the trigger to find out it is too dirty to function.

In the end, you will be well served if you follow these five simple rules when handling any firearm including toy ones. They may just save a life. I hope the college continues to allow games like Gotcha! to be played on campus. Just as children at play, CSC students might just learn how to handle firearms safely while enjoying a fun and exciting game.

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