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“A wedding photographer in Sicily was accidentally killed when he asked the prospective bride and groom to pose for a picture using hunting rifles as props – and one of them went off,” reports “The blast hit 45-year-old Calogero Scimea in the head, and he died while the wedding party looked on in horror.” And that’s about it from a news point of view, aside from the fact that armed and dangerous wedding photos are standard practice on the island of omerta. From a safety angle, the shotgun wedding gone awry tells us something important about preening with guns. Don’t do it. And avoid people who do. Especially when emotions are running high and alcohol is flowing freely.  I speak from personal experience.

Back in the day, I went to a party in the middle of nowhere New Hampshire. I was the city slicker who’d charmed a local babe into providing an outsider something she’d withheld from the boys who’d watched her grow up. The vibe was, shall we say, antagonistic.  Fueled in no small measure by no small measures of whiskey.

At some point, a high school football star brought out his Winchester rifle, and proceeded to shoot shit placed on a fence by all-too-willing toadies. Ear protection? We don’t need no stinkin’ ear protection. I SAID . . .

As I gently guided my college colleague to my fancy ferrin’ car, the guy with the gun put his hand on the shoulder of one of his friends. I have no idea what he was saying to his tight end. But the Winchester went off, right next to his friend’s head.

There was a long oh shit moment, when nobody moved. And then the two pals broke out into laughter. And started shooting things again. But not me. I was a long time gone.

This was before the invention of the portable video camera, cell phones, the Internet, indoor plumbing (at least in parts of that neighborhood) and YouTube. Click here for an example of how some members of the wired generation mug to a seen and unseen audience—even at the very start of their firearms career.

The simple truth is that firearms safety is everyone’s responsibility. But your FIRST responsibility is to your own safety and the safety of your loved ones. If firearms appear, sometimes the best thing to do is disappear. Or at least back away. Well away.

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  1. You're naming the photographer as the irresponsible gun owner. I do not think it is irresponsible to use guns as props, so long as you maintain the four rules. It wasn't the photographer who screwed up, it was whoever brought the gun without checking that it was unloaded, whoever pointed it at the photographer, whoever gave it to someone without making sure they had a basic understanding of gun safety. I don't know if these are all the same person, or if there are a number of people to blame–but if any one of those things were done right, or if any 2 of the four rules had been followed, nobody would have been shot.

  2. Sevesteen, You make an excellent point: the photographer wasn't the gun owner. My bad. Sr. Scimea was merely the man who enabled the tragedy to occur.

    The report says "one of them [the guns] went off." You and I know SOMEONE PULLED THE TRIGGER, with the gun aimed at the photographer. That person bears ultimate responsibility for what happened.

    But it's also true that many people—the horrified onlookers—did nothing to intervene. The best man, perhaps, could have stepped in to check if the guns were loaded. Someone could have noticed the muzzle direction or the lack of trigger discipline. Because, again, emotions were running high. Which is when accidents are likely to occur.

    Guns are best handled in as sterile an environment as possible, by people who always assume they're loaded. The guns, not the people handling the guns. ALthough that's not a wild assumption to make at a wedding.

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