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Trigger time

The author’s niece, Damara, responsibly enjoying some trigger time at her Montana home

Let’s face it folks, as the old saying goes, “None of us are getting out of this one alive.” And it could be logically argued that while in this mortal coil, with every breath and step, we thread the fine line between death and delight. But the ultimate truth is that life is a wonderful experience and there is much that we can do to both enhance and degrade the adventure.

Take the shooting sports for example; while many in the media continually insist that “guns only represent a threat to society,” many more persons — with both knowledge and real-world experience — know that this is simply and emphatically not the case.

Firearms are inanimate objects. As such, they are completely subject to the will and the intentions of the operator. An individual is free to choose how he or she will use them. If used as a weapon, guns may be wielded for good or evil. Despite the blaring headlines, the reality is that only a small percentage is used by “bad people with malicious intent.”

In fact, in a world like ours, this is the case with all inanimate objects. The classic example, of course, is the darling of the modern world, the automobile. It could be reasonably debated that motor vehicles have made our modern lifestyle possible and are used by most of us to truly enhance our lives and circumstances. But on the other side of the coin, vehicular accidents claimed 40,100 lives in 2017 alone.

The National Safety Council claims that this inexcusable number of deaths will likely increase due to a number of societal factors that include an increase in the number of young, inexperienced, “daring” drivers hitting the roads (as states continue to lower minimum driving age requirements), as well as the increased performance envelopes of our automobiles.

More significantly perhaps is the exponential increase in the amount of impaired driving (due to the current plague of alcohol, opioid and prescription and non-prescription drug abuse menacing our nation. According to the NSC, the legalization of recreational marijuana use in certain Blue states has already significantly increased the amount of impaired driving incidents. Shame on the politicians that increase the threat on their constituents simply because it’s good for the tax base!

The third factor enumerated by the NSC referenced the current epidemic of “distracted driving” resulting from the addiction to personal devices, i.e., primarily texting with cellphones while at the wheel. What a tragic waste. Maybe a vehicle ban is in order? Perhaps we should heed the advice of our former president regarding gun bans. After all, “If only one life could be saved, wouldn’t it be worth it?”

Pardon me, I don’t mean to make light of a very serious situation, but perhaps we need to make a mindset readjustment. Ultimately, we are the masters of our lives and situations. We have the ability, legal and moral obligation to responsibly control the inanimate objects we have direct charge over in our lives.

While acknowledging that fact, I have to admit that the more I am around and handle firearms, the greater is my tendency to become too relaxed (less vigilant) about their use and handling. This is a common mindset when we humans participate in oft-repeated activities. Again, we have the natural tendency to become too relaxed, overconfident — even cavalier — about familiar activities. This can prove disastrous, as the number of accidental shootings and vehicular incidents prove.

So as a reminder to all of us, in order to keep us from becoming passé (and potentially dangerous to ourselves and others), I would like to give you a quick refresher course on the NRA’S basic rules for safe gun handling. Here they are:

1. Always treat every firearm as if it were loaded.

2. Control the muzzle at all times. Always keep your gun pointed in a safe direction. Never point the muzzle at anything that you don’t intend to destroy.

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3. Always keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.

4. Always keep the gun unloaded until you are ready to use it.

5. Be sure of your target and what lies beyond it (the shooting in a safe direction principle)

As American citizens, we have the rare luxury of enjoying our 2nd Amendment rights and privileges. This is a right with perks. Not only do we (currently) have the right to use our firearms to protect ourselves and our families from enemies foreign and domestic, we have the wonderful opportunity (absent in most nations) to take our guns into the field and enjoy the pure thrill of sending rounds downrange. This is a wonderful right. But please always remember, it is a right that comes with weighty responsibilities.

So get out there with friends and family soon. As Thomas Jefferson reminds us, “Let your gun therefore become your constant companion on your walks.” Here, here, Thomas!

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