Be smart, stay safe
As hunting season approaches, we are reminded of the issue of weapons safety. Each year, people are accidentally shot — either by themselves or by another — and many of the incidences could have been prevented.
The first safety rule, in our opinion, is common sense. When hunting, confirm your target, take precautions, such as wearing “safety orange,” and protect furry pets. Know the area: how close is the nearest house? Road? Other hunters?
It seems there has been an increase in recent years of gun owners and we encourage all to take steps to prevent improper handling of firearms. Children are exposed to video games and other forms of entertainment that glamorize weapons, and those same children, or teenagers, may not be mature enough to realize a real weapon can impart real bodily harm.
Weapons should never be used in jest or treated as toys, as was the case recently in Knox. A young man died after reportedly playing a game with a friend that involved pointing a gun at each other.
Local police departments offer free gun locks, which can be a step in the right direction, along with storing ammunition in a separate location. Parents and other relatives, who wish their child to learn how to shoot, should remain vigilant about the whereabouts of all firearms in the household in relation to the child. Children have often been known to show off weapons, some even going as far as bringing a weapon to school.
Those who do not hunt should also familiarize themselves with any weapons in the house, if only for safe handling purposes. Classes are available to those who wish a more formal introduction in a monitored situation with a professional, well-informed instructor. Those interested in hunter safety classes can find available classes online at maine.gov/ifw/education/safety/firearm.htm. Hunter safety courses not only teach safe handling of firearms but also first aid, responsibility, use of maps and compasses and landowner relations.
There also are private classes offered in various parts of the state that focus more on gun safety and less on hunting (see related story in this week's Camden Herald).
While we encourage familiarity, one thing that should never be allowed to happen is for one to become too comfortable with the handling and use of firearms. Confidence is a good thing, but loss of respect that comes from being too comfortable could easily lead to disaster.
According to a report released earlier this year, Maine has a high number of households with weapons and yet has a relatively small number of weapons-related crimes. Some would argue the presence of firearms helps deter crime, but, we think it's more the nature of our state's people. Most Mainers are more than happy to lend a hand to those who are struggling, without the threat of violence.
Whether weapons are present for recreational purposes or protective purposes, we encourage safe, responsible use and careful, respectful handling.
We'd like to point out the new "Elections" section at knox.villagesoup.com, The Camden Herald's online presence. In the new section, readers will find candidate profiles as well as poll times and locations in addition to stories about ballot issues, both local and statewide. The Elections section can be located on the website by scrolling down the left side of the page under News. It's a great place to get all of your political news in one spot.