Firearm responsibility begins, ends at home

Firearm responsibility begins, ends at home More than 30 million Americans use rifles, shotguns and handguns for hunting and target shooting.

When these firearms are not in use, however, they must be safely secured. This is where firearms responsibility begins and ends — in the home.

According to Bill Shattuck, hunter safety program specialist for the Department of Game, Fish and Parks, the rules for safely storing firearms in the home are few in number and easy to follow:

* Always unload sporting firearms carefully and completely before taking them into the home. Never load a sporting firearm in the home.

* Always make absolutely sure that firearms in your home are securely stored in a location inaccessible to children. Ammunition should be stored in a separate location, locked and also inaccessible to children.

* Always place firearms in their proper storage location immediately after returning from a hunting trip or a day at the range.

* Always re-check firearms carefully and completely to confirm that they are "still" unloaded when you remove them from storage. Accidents have occurred when a family member has borrowed or loaned a firearm and returned it to storage while it was still loaded.

* Always remember that it is your responsibility to make certain the firearms in your home are not casually accessible to anyone — especially curious young people.

For firearms that are kept for home security, special safety measures must be taken. Shattuck said the objective should be to create a situation in which the firearm is readily available to you, yet inaccessible or inoperative to others.

"Quick-release trigger locks, chamber locks or special locked cases that can be instantly opened by authorized individuals are options to consider," Shattuck said.

In all circumstances, individuals must exercise full control and supervision over loaded firearms.

"This means the gun must be unloaded and placed in secure storage whenever individuals leave the home," he said.

Shattuck added that most fatal home firearms accidents occur when youngsters — many time children who do not live in the home — discover firearms that adults thought were safely hidden or physically inaccessible.

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