Friday, June 19, 2009

How About A New Rule: A Gun Is Not A Toy

Yet another gun tragedy, this time in Alaska:

"Playing with gun leads to murder charge."

A great man was USMC Col. Jeff Cooper, who formulated the Four Rules of safe gun handling:

1. All guns are always loaded. Even if they are not, treat them as if they are.

2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy. (For those who insist that this particular gun is unloaded, see Rule 1.)

3. Keep your finger off the trigger till your sights are on the target. This is the Golden Rule. Its violation is directly responsible for about 60 percent of inadvertent discharges.

4. Identify your target, and what is behind it. Never shoot at anything that you have not positively identified.

I've always thought, and said on this blog, that perhaps Col. Cooper, being from an earlier, more responsible generation, simply could not envision people who spent much of their leisure time learning to associate guns with play, via toy guns, video and computer games, and simulations such as paintball. Perhaps, if he had, he might have added another rule, and placed it before his other four:

A gun is not a toy. DON'T PLAY WITH IT!

In the current story, all of Cooper's Rules were violated; and yet, all of the rules were violated because the Unwritten Rule was not followed: the gun was played with, as if it were a toy. The father should, perhaps, be charged with criminal negligence for just this very reason, for not intervening when his son was treating a gun as a toy.

There has been some discussion recently at a few of the gunblogs about kids, guns, and toys. Jay at MArooned, when dealing with his own son, trains him to treat toy guns as if they were real guns. When I was helping to raise my nephew Jeremy, my own strategy was to distinguish between toys and guns, and expect him to know the difference. In addition, I taught him my own version of Cooper's Rules, shortened to three:

1. A gun is not a toy.

2. A gun is always loaded.

3. Never point a gun at anything you're unwilling to see die.

He's never had an accident with a gun (thank all the gods), and has recently acquired his South Carolina CCW license.

The newspapers are perhaps a bit kind when they describe these deaths; he was playing with the gun and it went off. This should perhaps be changed to he was playing with the gun and fired it, forgetting it was not a toy, forgetting it was loaded, and forgetting that he had pointed it at his best friend. He showed a callous disregard for the role of a gun in society.

They aren't toys, people. Don't play with the damned things, and perhaps we'll all be safer.

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