OSEA Safety Blog

Firearm Safety

Thursday, November 5, 2020 Joseph Coniglio

You have probably heard the saying, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people”. When it comes to pointing a firearm at someone and pulling the trigger, yes that is people killing people and a conscious choice. Now, what about accidental deaths related to firearms?

As a veteran of the US Army, I was taught, and firmly believe, that there is no such thing as accidental shootings or discharges; rather they’re considered negligent. One thing we quickly learned in the military is you are 100% in charge of your firearms. I remember training on firing ranges all day for days on end. Prior to our first deployment, it was estimated that we put three thousand rounds doing various target practice and engagement training. We had to field strip and reassemble our M4 carbine rifles in a specific amount of time. We went so far as to even do it blindfolded. Needless to say, we all became very proficient with the safe and effective operation of our assigned weapons.

With approximately 380 million Americans in the United States and less than 7% having served or are currently serving in armed forces and/or law enforcement which is roughly 27 million people. Therefore, less than 10% of the population has had formal firearms training (mind you the extent of training varies greatly between branches of the military too). In the United States, there are an estimated 270 million civilian-owned firearms; that’s nearly 1 firearm per US citizen!

Every year there is an average of 36,000 deaths related to gun violence, of which nearly 500 are unintentional each year. Regardless of what side of the fence you sit on as it relates to gun ownership, one thing can’t be argued, and that is that guns are dangerous if you’re not properly trained.

I am a firm believer in teaching children at a young age gun safety, and most importantly, to respect guns. If you’re not a firearm owner or have no understanding of how to safely hold or use a gun, then you should not touch one until you're trained. Would you let your 16-year-old jump in the car and start driving without knowing how? No, of course not. Make sure you treat firearms the same way.

A few very basic safety rules to follow;

(1) Guns are always loaded, even when you verify it’s not you still must treat it as loaded

(2) The dangerous end of a firearm should always be pointed at the ground until you’re ready to engage a target

(3) your index finger does not go on the trigger until you are ready to destroy a target, otherwise, it is rested on the frame just below the slide pointing forward

(3) If your weapon jams, assume it’s still loaded with a round in the chamber and never try to look down a barrel to see if a round is jammed

(4) and the most important rule is, if it’s not your firearm, you don’t have the training, and/or are just not comfortable handling a gun then don’t.

Having a firearm in the United States is your right. With that right comes great responsibility, please take it seriously.

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