Commentary

There are two things that I hope to have made an impact on by the time I get old and forget my name. I am very passionate about these things. It’s the passion that drives me to do what I do. First; I want to help people understand that THEY own the responsibility for their personal safety and that of their family. They own it. Themselves. Oh, the government will send someone over in an emergency if you call. And the cop --- he or she will do everything in their power to get there quickly. They’ll even risk their own lives trying to help you -- but they gotta get there first. And that takes time. If it’s a hot, busy Saturday night in the middle of August – maybe a little extra time. If there has been some type of natural disaster or national emergency – it might take a week or two. In a situation like that, something most folks can’t even imagine, a person could get themselves killed over a bottle of water.

As a policeman for many years, I can’t remember very many times that I ran into a room and saved the day. I remember many times I arrived at a home too late to do much good, other than take some photographs and write a good report. YOU need to be able to protect your family. And it doesn’t have to be with a gun. Pepper spray, lighting, locks, a big dog – a plan. Something. The firearm just happens to be the best tool for the job, but it is not the only tool. The responsibility is yours. No one else’s.

I am responsible for my own health. Me! Not the paramedics. Not the ER doctor. If I fall over and have a heart attack in my house – call 911 and then start bitching and moaning about how those “damn paramedics” aren’t taking care of me how much sense does that make? They have nothing to do with what is happening to me in my home -- until they arrive. It is MY responsibility to monitor my health. It is up to ME to get check-ups – take my medications, eat right and get some exercise. My health is MY responsibility – not the responsibility of those who will come to help me if and when I need it. It’s all mine. Just like my personal safety. I want people to understand that, and to take that responsibility seriously.

The second thing I hope to have an impact on is firearm safety. Specifically, firearm safety as it relates to the actual handling of a firearm. It’s very, very simple, yet I see people mis-handling a firearm everywhere I go. We deal with things far more dangerous and much more complicated every single day and think nothing of it. When was the last time you drove down the freeway at 80 MPH – with your life in the hands of every other knucklehead on the road? One mistake by someone you’ve never met is all it takes. It happens all the time. Four people dead on I-84 at Cloverdale in a massive crash and fiery blaze just months ago. Multiple people killed when one guy crossed over the center line and hit another vehicle head on, just weeks ago. Whos hasn’t had a friend or family member killed in a vehicle accident? I could go on and on and on. Safety in a vehicle is complicated. It takes training and practice. It takes constant effort. Your safety depends on a lot of other people – their abilities. Their physical and emotional condition. The weather. Road conditions. Many things can get you killed in the blink of an eye while driving your car, yet we barely give it a thought.

Safety with a firearm is much simpler. In fact, it’s very simple. Just don’t ever let the barrel of your firearm point at anyone you don’t intend to shoot and you likely will never shoot anyone with it. There. See how easy that was? So, since we now know how easy it is to start being safe with a firearm, why is it that every time I go to my local gun retailer, and stand at the gun counter, I have a dozen “seasoned” gun owners – many likely lifetime NRA members -- pointing guns at my head?! If you ask one (and I have) they will tell you in a less than friendly tone that the firearm is “unloaded.” It never fails. Try it.

I arrested a TON of drunk driver when I was a real cop. Interestingly, none of them had ever had 3 beers. No one had had 4, 5 or 6 beers. They ALL had had “2 beers.” And every time I went to an accidental shooting -- the gun involved was “unloaded.” Crazy. The 8th and 9th wonders of the world.

Guns are ALL LOADED! ALL THE TIME! Unload it. Check it. Check it again because you are a safety FREAK – and then pretend it’s still loaded. And for good measure – check for a third time – and after you are certain (almost) that it is unloaded – pretend it’s got jacketed hollow points in it and treat it as such. Don’t point it at me. Don’t flag it by the sales guy or point it at every customer in the store.

Now we need to add one more safety rule to really make this whole thing “crazy safe.” It’s still not complicated. Just don’t ever put your finger on the trigger of any weapon until your firearm is pointed at your intended target and you want to shoot. Not ever. As in EVER! There. See how easy that is?

Now, we know that WE are never going to point the barrel of our firearm at anyone for any reason other than legitimate self-defense AND we will never be putting put our finger on the trigger—EVER -- until we intend to shoot, BUT – what about those around us? Are they as knowledgeable and committed to not accidentally killing folks as we are? Look around and make sure!

If you are at a range with friends, or in a gun shop somewhere – and folks are pointing guns at you – LEAVE. Last Christmas I actually saw a customer in a retail store checking out a scoped rifle by looking through the scope, flagging the barrel around the entire store! Now this particular store is really, really safe in how they handle weapons, and I am 99% sure that rifle was unloaded. But I can tell you one thing... I’m not 100% sure. And neither was anyone else. I wouldn’t put that barrel in my mouth and pull the trigger! I would never be THAT sure! Even if I checked it MYSELF -- 18 times.

We are never truly 100% sure it’s unloaded. None of us are above the possibility of human error. Remember that.