Gun safety is everyone’s responsibility. You might have seen that homily down at the gun range printed on a lead-coated poster from nineteen-footsack (as my South African wife would say). It’s meaning is clear enough: if you see some bad shit going down, do something about it. Intervene. Call the range master. This “do ask, do tell” policy is extremely effective; peer pressure is a sure-fire way to help make sure that gun owners fire safely. As you know, there are “good” (safe) ranges and “bad” (unsafe). The key difference between them: the attitude towards gun safety from the people at the top AND using the range. Here’s the problem: there’s no one to stop bad shit going down OFF range. Except, of course, you. Check this from an editorial advocating gun education at allvoices.com:
I learned more about the reality of weaponry in those nine weeks [or Army training] in New Jersey than a large portion of the American population, perhaps even the majority, learns in a lifetime. And it has served me well on many occasions, including an incident in college where a friend of a friend was drunk and began showing off his Smith & Wesson .45. I was inebriated as well, but when I suddenly saw this idiot trying to twirl his gun like he was back in the Old West, I had enough sense to walk away from the party. I later learned that a shot was fired by accident. Thankfully, no one was hurt, but there is always the chance that I would have been standing in the round’s path.
And if I still had been thinking in terms of guns as toys, I might even have wanted to give it a twirl myself.
Now, I’m not saying that Darren Richardson should have confronted the idiot practicing ballistic buffoonery. That would depend entirely on the situation. If the gun slinger was a belligerent bastard surrounding by cheering best buds, intervention could have made the situation worse. But he should have done something, like, I dunno, calling the cops.
Yes, the cops. Obviously, it’s entirely possible to rat-out a gun fool without revealing your own identity. And so you should. Although Richardson is relieved that he emerged from this incident physically unscathed, what if the show-off had killed someone else? I wonder if his condescension would have been as complete.
Our newly affirmed right to bear arms comes with responsibilities. As gun owners, we have the responsibility to use firearms safely. Our personal responsibility extends beyond ourselves to our communities. Ironically, ultimately, it’s not a mater of altruism. If we stop others from abusing their Second Amendment rights, we protect our own.