We marvel at the news every day of people who accidentally shoot themselves and others with their own guns. Peruse The Gun Wire on a daily basis and you'll find plenty of examples. How does this happen? I did something the other day that answered that question for me. It boils down to two words: fear and respect.
I carry at home most of the time, especially when I am home alone or with one or both of the kids. What I do not do at home, however, is carry with a round in the chamber. I know this. When I get the gun out of the safe, I do a press check, insert the magazine, and holster the weapon. Before I leave the house, I rack the slide to chamber a round, then re-holster. As soon as I get home, I remove the magazine, and clear the weapon. I do it every time. Every day.
The other day I was getting ready to go out, and I put my weapon on the bathroom counter. Unlike public restrooms, you have plenty of room to set your weapon down at home while you do your business. When I was ready to re-holster, I reached for the weapon and picked it up. Immediately I realized I had placed my finger in the trigger guard. My first thought was “It's okay, it doesn't have a round in the chamber.”
That thought stopped me cold.
The saying goes that familiarity breeds contempt, meaning that if you are around someone or something a lot, you take them for granted. You stop respecting them. You stop fearing them.
In Luther's explanations of the Ten Commandments we are told we should “Fear and love God.” Fear and love. Fear His wrath. Fear Him as a child fears his father. What child willingly wants to incur the wrath of his father by disobeying him? I know I didn't. We should properly fear God because He created us and He has the power to destroy us. Without Him we are doomed to eternal damnation.
When I compiled my Ten Commandments to Shoot By, I took the same approach to guns, replacing the word “Respect” for the word “love”. “Fear and respect.”
I violated my own First and Third Commandments to Shoot By:
The First Commandment:
Treat every Gun As If It is Loaded.
What does this mean?
We should fear and respect our gun so that we do not assume that it is unloaded and accidentally shoot ourselves or someone else.
The Third Commandment:
Never Put Your Finger inside the Trigger Guard or On the Trigger Until You are Ready to Fire.
What does this mean?
We should fear and respect our gun so that we do not handle it carelessly.
I had unwittingly stumbled upon the mindset that leads to accidental shootings and death. You may love your guns, but if you don't fear and respect them, they can kill you.
The people who accidentally shoot themselves and others have lost, or never had, that fear and respect.