This week's column is about the responsibilities every person has when they have firearms in their home. If you keep guns of any kind in your house, then you have certain responsibilities on your shoulders whether you like it or not.
Today, more than 30 million law-abiding citizen enjoy using sporting rifles, shotguns and handguns for hunting and target shooting. It has also been estimated there are more than 100 million citizens who have firearms in their homes for legitimate reasons, like home protection.
Household accidents involving firearms have decreased significantly in the past 30 years, according to the National Safety Council. I would like to see this downward trend continue. However, gun owners need to comply with common sense rules when it comes to having guns in their homes.
I said in a past column that I have been around guns all my life, which is very true. Dad kept a .22 rifle loaded for home protection when I was growing up, and I was told never to go near them. If I had, the punishment would have been painful and severe. I think he would have worn his belt out on my bare rear end.
Now, I think how a person stores their guns in their own house is really nobody else's business. This includes all levels of government. Just remember, the gun owner is responsible for how those guns are used by him and the members of his of her family. Here are a few simple, common sense storage rules for anyone:
n Make sure that firearms are stored in a location inaccessible to small children. Ammunition should also be stored in a separate location inaccessible to small children.
n Place guns in their proper storage area immediately upon returning from a hunting trip or time at a shooting range. If they need to be cleaned, do this as soon as possible and then return them to the storage area.
n Always recheck any gun carefully to completely confirm that it is "still" unloaded when it is removed from storage. My father insisted that when you show a gun to another person do it with the action open.
If it is a revolver, check the cylinder in the presence of the individual to make sure that it is empty before handing it to anyone.
Always remember it is the owner's responsibility to make certain that firearms are not accessible to anyone - especially curious young people
The National Rifle Association had the right idea when they introduced the Eddie Eagle Gun Safety Program in 1988. The real purpose of this program was not to teach whether guns are good or bad, but to promote the safety of children. This program has reached more than 20 million children in all 50 states with its basic rule: If you see a gun, STOP! Don't touch. Leave the area. Tell an adult.
Today, the number of privately owned guns in the United States is at an all time high and continues to grow at about a rate of 4.5 million a year. The firearms home accident death rate is at an all time low, about 0.2 per 100,000 population. This is down more than 90 percent since the all-time high in 1904.
Since 1930, the United States population has more than doubled, and the number of privately owned firearms has quintupled. Among children, firearm home fatalities have decreased 90 percent since 1975.