A Phippsburg man was taken to Maine Medical Center in Portland after he accidentally shot himself in the foot at his home Saturday morning.

The 69-year-old was preparing to go bird hunting and “was going to clean the weapon and he thought both barrels were empty, but one wasn’t,” Sagadahoc County Sheriff Joel Merry said. There was no one else in the room when the single shot was fired.

Merry didn’t know the extent of the man’s injuries when he was brought to Maine Medical Center in Portland on Saturday. He was in “fair condition” on Monday afternoon, MaineHealth Spokesperson Caroline Cornish wrote in an email to The Times Record.

In recent previous incidents of unintentional shoots, some of which have been by children, Merry stressed he isn’t “anti-gun,” but said gun owners must “respect that it’s a dangerous weapon.”

“This goes back to respecting any firearm,” said Merry. “You have to always treat a weapon like it’s loaded and take the proper steps to ensure it’s unloaded. Accidents happen, but accidents involving a firearm can be deadly.”

No action was taken by police, given the accidental nature of the situation, said Merry.

Each year, more than 27,000 people nationwide are admitted to the emergency department for unintentional firearm injuries, according to the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, a nonprofit that advocates for policy changes and programs to reduce gun violence. The U.S. sees about 500 deaths caused by unintentional shootings annually.

The Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Office offers free gun locks in the lobby, which anyone can take, no questions asked.

The department is also developing a free program on gun handling, use and storage, spurred by two recent incidents in which children unintentionally got their hands on and discharged a parent’s gun. That program should be ready within the next two to three months, Merry told The Times Record last month.

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