MOUNT VERNON — The importance of safely handling and storing firearms cannot be overemphasized. As much as someone might think that a gun is secured or safely put away, accidents can happen. As recent events have exposed the reality that tragedies can occur, it could never be practical for one to stop reviewing the basics of gun safety.
“Gun ownership comes with a huge responsibility to make sure that firearms are not accessible to unauthorized people, especially children,” Cpl. Robert Morgan of the Mount Vernon Police Department told the News. Gun safes, lock boxes and individual gun locks are all good ways that Morgan said can be used to keep guns safe.
Many firearms, but not all, are equipped with at least one safety-lock feature. Some are integral which use a key, while others are as simple as flipping a switch. Certain guns are made with multiple safety-lock features. But manufacturers are not required to have firearms equipped with a safety feature, according to Morgan.
“Pretty much every firearm purchased today comes with a gun lock, but it’s then up to the individual to utilize them,” said Morgan. He explained that the Mount Vernon Police Department and the Knox County Sheriff’s Office both participate in the Project Homesafe program. Cable-style locks can be obtained free of charge from each of these offices and can be used on many auto loading pistols, revolvers, pump-action shotguns and bolt action rifles. There are a few types of firearms that these Project Homesafe locks will not work with. Owners of these firearms are encouraged to contact the manufacturer to obtain a proper safety lock.
The Project Homesafe devices consist of a heavy-duty padlock with an attached cable which is inserted through the magazine or open chamber of the firearm and is then locked so that the gun cannot be fired. The locks come with a user’s manual which explains and illustrates how to properly attach the locks to the firearm. The manual also gives numerous tips on safely handling and storing firearms. Some of the main tips in the manual are the following:
“Gun ownership comes with a huge responsibility to make sure that firearms are not accessible to unauthorized people, especially children,”Cpl. Robert Morgan of the Mount Vernon Police Department
•Be sure you know how the firearm operates.
•Always keep a gun pointed in a safe direction, even when unloaded.
•Never assume that a firearm is unloaded.
•Always keep your finger off the trigger, even when handling an unloaded gun.
Fredericktown Police Chief Jerry Day said the best advice is to never keep guns and ammunition together while they are in a house. He recommends that these be locked up separately to avoid the possibility of any accident.
John Farson, outdoors skills specialist with The Ohio State University Extension, told the News that the extension office has a pamphlet of “10 Gun Handling Safety Rules” which is included in their Hunter Safety Manual and is available through the office. The most important tips Farson shared were to always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction, treat every gun as if it were loaded, keep the guns unloaded in or around the house, keep the safety mechanisms enabled, and keep the guns and ammunition locked up separately.
“Accidents can be completely avoided,” Farson said if these tips are followed. He also suggested contacting local firearms retailers as well as representatives of the National Rifle Association for further suggestions. Additional tips on gun safety can be found on the National Rifle Association’s website at www.nrahq.org.