Talk about gun safety at your own risk

The rules: Handle any gun as if it's loaded. Never point a gun at another person. Never treat a gun like a toy.

Those are basic lessons taught to young hunters around the country, lessons that can stick with a person for life.

But lessons apparently unlearned by a 31-year-old Waterville man who last week had a few drinks, propped an "unloaded" hunting rifle under his chin and is now missing the bottom half of his face.

Ditto for the Stonington man who was cleaning a .45 caliber handgun in his kitchen recently when the gun went off, striking him in the leg and his 4-year-old daughter in the thigh.

Basic gun training might have helped prevent a Bangor man from shooting his three-year-old daughter in the neck on Oct. 31, leaving her with life-threatening injuries.

All of which might lead a reasonable person to think some more gun training might help some people avoid these stupid, painful mistakes.

Perhaps the kind of course where a gun instructor might detect that a young man was off his rocker before he was allowed to buy a high-powered, semi-automatic rifle.

You know, the kind of young men who hear voices and wind up shooting a couple dozen children, or a handful of co-workers.

So, gun training? Why not talk about that?

Which is the mistake a long-time writer and technical editor for Guns & Ammo made when he sat down to pen a column for the publication.

Dick Metcalf spoke his mind on the last page of the magazine's December issue. He thought it reasonable for his home state of Illinois to make a gun-handling course a requirement for gun ownership. It seemed like a reasonable idea, he said.

Others did not, and the reaction was immediate and unforgiving. The magazine's readers, the adamant defenders of the Second Amendment, couldn't stand to see Metcalf exercise his First Amendment right. The one about free speech.

Under pressure from readers, Metcalf soon found himself fired, while the magazine's editor was moved to another job within the company, even after issuing a profuse apology.

This is the politics of intolerance and intimidation practiced by the most radical members of the National Rifle Association.

When a RECOIL magazine editor dared say he didn't think civilians should have access to fully automatic machine guns, he was forced to step down,

Another gun magazine writer was similarly punished for expressing the opinion that hunters should not use combat-style weapons.

Even Smith & Wesson became the focus of a customer and advertiser boycott when it talked with federal officials about making handguns safer.

While we have taken amazing strides toward making everything from airplanes to automobiles safer, there is apparently no possible technical ways guns could be made less dangerous to users.

No way, apparently.

Because things are going swimmingly well in the real world, at least for the gun and ammo industry.

The cash registers are ringing, guns are flying off shelves, and ammo is selling so fast manufacturers can hardly keep up with demand, even after doubling prices.

Things are not going quite as well for about 10,000 Americans killed so far this year by guns, including the 85 killed in 11 U.S. mass shootings in a little more than a year.

Americans, apparently, get enough gun-handling knowledge from watching TV police shows and playing video games.

There is no doubt that the vast, vast majority of gun owners will never shoot themselves or another person. They will use guns safely and responsibly.

But if there are ways we can prevent a small group of people from harming themselves or others, shouldn't we at least talk about that?

rrhoades@sunjournal.com

The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and the editorial board.

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Comments

KATHY WILLIAMSON's picture

But it's ok to protect kids

But it's ok to protect kids from HIV and teen pregnancy by NOT talking to them about sex? Which way do ya want it conservatives?

Eric  LeBlanc's picture

Nobody is against discussing gun safety

Nobody is against discussing gun safety. The editorial in Guns And Ammo was about limiting the right to keep and bear arms.

Eric  LeBlanc's picture

Gun Safety classes would not have prevented this

First of all, if you hunt in Maine you are already required to take a hunter's safety course which covers all this. Everybody knows enough to assume every gun is loaded but not everybody is careful enough to always practice that and no amount of safety courses will change that. The firing of the writer was justified. Imagine if a writer for NAACP Weekly said a little discrimination against blacks is ok and African Americans should at least have that conversation? He'd be fired too. The last people on the side of the 2nd Amendment meeds are traitors on the inside working against them.

Eric  LeBlanc's picture

The last thing that is

The last thing that is

Steve  Dosh's picture

. . live by the gun , die by

. . live by the gun , die by gun ;)
~ Happy Veterans Day all Veterans both ƒemale and male ~
/s Steve Dosh FSO ( ret.)
311 fan ?

Noel Foss's picture

Certainly it bears talking about.

But more restrictions and requirements on gun ownership aren't going to teach anybody common sense.

Also, given that 2/3rds of US gun deaths are suicides, it's unlikely that additional training requirements would have an impact on those numbers.
The remaining 3rd consists of murders and accidents. Additional training requirements may have an impact on those numbers, as accidents can be mitigated with more education. However, additional training may actually raise the # of murders, as somebody who knows what they're doing with a gun would be more effective than somebody who doesn't.

Given the similarity of the numbers on hand, I'm surprised I don't read more editorials from Rex about how to make our roads safer. (It might be important to note, for instance, that annual traffic deaths in the US dramatically outweigh non-suicidal gun deaths every year running). As a means of comparison, the SJ ran an article just this morning (a short three paragraph blurb, in fact) that so far traffic fatalities in Maine are at 118 for the year. That's in comparison to 137 last year, according to the article. How many gun murders and accidental deaths did Maine have last year, by comparison?

However, I do look forward to an editorial describing a method of teaching common sense to the masses. That should prove to be a truly entertaining read.

Steve  Dosh's picture

Noel ? Veterans \ Armistice

Noel ? Veterans \ Armistice Day 11 am 13.11.11 ?
Common sense is in short supply these days •
" Life is like a box of chocolates . You don't know what you got. .until you stick your finger in it ."
-- paraphrasing Forrest Gump
/s , Steve :D

Steve  Dosh's picture

Talk about gun safety at your own risk

Rex , Sunday 4 pm
Guns kill small children and other living creatures . The British are not coming anymore , anyone . Private militias are illegal in these US of A any way
Repeal the 2nd amendment already . It's anachronistic
250,000,000 guns ? 300,000,000 people . When is enough , enough ?
We may be the largest arms producer in the world and even though our military is larger than all the other militaries in the world combined , we boldly proclaim
~ Happy Veterans Day , all women and men veterans of foreign wars ~
/s Dr. Dosh and ohana , Hawai'i

Go for broke is a phrase from Hawaiian Pidgin[1] meaning "to wager everything". It was the motto of a World War II Japanese-American military unit, the 442nd Infantry Regiment. The 442nd was awarded eight Presidential Unit Citations and twenty-one ( 21 ! ) of its members were awarded the Medal of Honor for World War II.[3] The 442nd's high distinction in the war and its record-setting decoration count earned it the nickname "Purple Heart Battalion." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/442nd_Infantry_Regiment_(United_States)
War eats it's young . War doesn't prove who is right , only who is leƒt . War is folly . Ask a vet

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

Reason

You cannot reason with the unreasonable. 10,000 deaths just doesn't register. It is just water off a duck's back. What about razor blades, they say. You can hurt yourself with them too. If you gave everybody razor blades that would make everybody safer, they say. You can choke on an apple. Should apples be illegal, they say. There is nothing anybody can say that will make sense to someone like that.

Steve  Dosh's picture

Ayuh Claire , 4:10 pm

Ayuh Claire , 4:10 pm Sunday hst
. . ..10,000 deaths in the Phillippines , 25,000 in Mexico last year in their drug war ( the demand is here in our US of A )
Incomprehensible
Pray for peace , mercy , further understanding , and salvation for us , our kids , and grandchildren
We learned today in our church that not everyone has ƒai†h • 
True . Isn't it ?
hth , /s Steve :D

 's picture

Over the weekend...

...there was a shootout at a party in Houston, Texas. It was reported to the NRA that someone at the party had an attack Bic pen and the person with the gun was only acting in self-defense.

GARY SAVARD's picture

There are also a small group

There are also a small group of people that shouldn't be driving, using lawnmowers, chainsaws, nail guns, and so on that are law abiding citizens and have no intention of harming themselves or others, yet they do. Maybe we should talk about that too. You can't teach common sense, and certainly, alcohol and/or drugs don't mix well with most activities that require being attentive for safety reasons, firearms included.

GARY SAVARD's picture

There are also a small group

There are also a small group of people that shouldn't be driving, using lawnmowers, chainsaws, nail guns, and so on that are law abiding citizens and have no intention of harming themselves or others, yet they do. Maybe we should talk about that too. You can't teach common sense, and certainly, alcohol and/or drugs don't mix well with most activities that require being attentive for safety reasons, firearms included.

ANGELA MATTHEWS's picture

Gun trainIng and Mental Health Treatment

Gun safety training is a good idea. And we also need to restore the Mental Health treatment system that President dismantled because it was too expensive.

Steve  Dosh's picture

Mike , 4:20 pm hst ?

Mike , 4:20 pm hst ? Sunday
Bush and Bush jr. were losers any way ?
ref: http://healthfinder.gov/News/Article.aspx?id=677033
/s Dr. Dosh
http://www.pnhp.org/news/articles-of-interest

MARK GRAVEL's picture

"But lessons apparently

"But lessons apparently unlearned by a 31-year-old Waterville man who last week had a few drinks, propped an "unloaded" hunting rifle under his chin and is now missing the bottom half of his face."

From the few words written here, this sounds a bit more than an accident, more like attempted suicide.

RONALD RIML's picture

From words written in the Sun Journal - Suicide not contemplated

You really do need to read what's written in the paper - and not what you've imagined is not written in the paper, Mark. - If you can't keep up, take notes.

"Massey said Poulin thought the gun was not loaded when he pulled the trigger, and he never contemplated suicide."

MARK GRAVEL's picture

P.S. Would a rational person

P.S. Would a rational person behavior in that manner? No.

RONALD RIML's picture

That's why certain folks are

labelled "Gun Nuts"

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Is that what he said to avoid

Is that what he said to avoid prosecution? It is against the law to attempt suicide. Moreover, that behavior is attempted suicide regardless of what the individual says.

RONALD RIML's picture

Against the Law to attempt suicide???

Cite the Maine Statute, Chapter and section.....

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Maine Revised Statute Title

Maine Revised Statute Title 17-A, Chapter 9:
OFFENSES AGAINST THE PERSON

RONALD RIML's picture

You neglected to drill down to

the applicable section....

Andrew Jones's picture

He was drunk with his

He was drunk with his buddies, not really in a position to make rational decisions. While I do think that anyone aiming a gun at their own body likely has some sort of death wish, I don't think his intention was to kill himself. Not sure why he needs to be prosecuted for 'attempted suicide', I think the fact that he blew his face off is punishment enough. Gross!

RONALD RIML's picture

So where in Maine Revised Statutes

can one be prosecuted for attempted their own suicide???

I can't find where that is prohibited in Maine Revised Statutes........

CAROLYN LIBBEY's picture

You are so right Ronald.

You are so right Ronald.

AL PELLETIER's picture

Ron, He not only doesn't read,

he jumps to conclusions too. Trust me on this, he'll come back with some dumb comment to make sure he has the last word. Kinda like both our ex-wives don't you think?

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Perhaps we can understand

Perhaps we can understand said wife is an ex.....

RONALD RIML's picture

You've gotta remember.....

Mark is America's Self Proclaimed "Mr. Right"

He must pull that crap here because he can't get away with it at home.........

CAROLYN LIBBEY's picture

A few English classes may

A few English classes may help him.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

If you have been paying

If you have been paying attention, it is now Dr. Right.

I found out that Mr. Right is used by a national talk show host, Jason Lewis. I don't want him to get credit for my brilliance.

Andrew Jones's picture

Not sure. I read the section

Not sure. I read the section that Mark posted but I don't believe it applies to this situation.. My point was that his injury is punishment enough for his actions.

RONALD RIML's picture

Andrew - Mark didn't refer to any particular Law

- because there is NONE. He let his alligator mouth overload his hummingbird ass - as per usual.

The only Maine law is in prohibiting one from aiding or soliciting another to commit suicide - and the other commits or attempts suicide.

Title 17-A, Chapter 9, §204. Aiding or soliciting suicide

1. A person is guilty of aiding or soliciting suicide if he intentionally aids or solicits another to commit suicide, and the other commits or attempts suicide.
[ 1977, c. 510, §41 (RPR) .]
2. Aiding or soliciting suicide is a Class D crime.
[ 1977, c. 510, §41 (RPR) .]

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Readers, this is a

Readers, this is a demonstration how I can get people to work for me, and in this case, for nothing. Thanks for the legwork Ronald.

Ronald, are you familiar with the saying "Led by the nose ring"?

CAROLYN LIBBEY's picture

Dream on thou deluded one.

Dream on thou deluded one.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Many great ideas are spawned

Many great ideas are spawned from dreams.

A skill that I have over many others is that I can execute implemention of my ideas (aka dreams).

RONALD RIML's picture

Sopping wet as they are......

No doubt you keep a hand in things.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Hey, at least I can still

Hey, at least I can still erect and idea, and I don't "depend" on assistance to keep the bed dry ;-)

RONALD RIML's picture

We have dry beds with indoor plumbing......

Which you, no doubt, are too cheap to install.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

If it is not broken or the

If it is not broken or the hole is not full, why fix it?

RONALD RIML's picture

You've got more excuses then a candidates list for AA

Mark Gravel, Turd Gilder Extraordinaire.......

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Ronald, You have more

Ronald,

You have more buttons than an elevator in the empire state building.

Noel Foss's picture

yeah yeah yeah

And you're both ugly, and your momma's dress you both funny, too.

I wonder how much shorter the comments sections on articles would be if the personal insult crap was kept out of it.

CAROLYN LIBBEY's picture

HA< HA--LET'S GET OUT THE

HA< HA--LET'S GET OUT THE GLOVES-POW!

MARK GRAVEL's picture

I liken it to being more like

I liken it to being more like a cat call....

MARK GRAVEL's picture

So you express your point of

So you express your point of view with contributing the very problem you chastise.

Hmm?

Noel Foss's picture

Merely putting it into the language of the discussion at hand.

I was using the dumbest insult I could think of, to illustrate my point.

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