Always think safety
by JIM RUTH, Bradley County Sheriff
Jan 06, 2013 | 789 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Just as it has been the motto of the Boy Scouts to “Be Prepared,” you could say that my motto is “Always Think Safety.” That is what those of us who teach the handgun permit class expound upon the most during the required classroom session.

It is an encouraging and hopeful sign when I read an announcement in the Banner that one of our older area boys has achieved the status of Eagle Scout. Or, when I read of the participation of one of our girls reaching a new milestone of training and achievement at the Boys & Girls Clubs or in the Girl Scouts, etc.

It is equally encouraging that many of our youth go through courses like the hunter safety course learning about safety and how to handle firearms.

The “cultural quotient” of our community is raised by these experiences of learning by doing. Further, a new sense of propriety or “ought-ness” (as one preacher said) is ingrained in the next generation. This training in self-discipline will serve the young person well throughout his or her lifetime.

I have mentioned before the way we are trained is the way we will react in a “tight situation” or emergency. I have found that to be true numerous times during my 40-year career in law enforcement.

In my early years as a patrolman, there were a lot of fights that accompanied arrests. I learned how to fistfight one or more and wind up with little or no injury. In those days we did not have Tasers and mace or teargas to subdue those who wanted to put up a fight. Nor did we have a specific Use of Force continuum like we do now.

During my career I have, also, learned how to take both defensive and offensive positions in a gunfight. You learn quickly that your basic police training is very important. You realize the importance of the “little” details the instructor drilled into you as you were being trained to defend yourself and others.

Our school teachers are striving every day to teach kids the very basic rules of self-discipline that result in a successful pursuit of how to become knowledgeable and literate. Yet, too often, parental support is not there.

Parents have abdicated parental responsibility and authority that they have to the kids. They then want to point their accusations at the teacher for their child’s failure.

Yet, there are some bright spots out there as well. There are many parents working in the professional offices, the factories and service jobs who go home at the end of the day and are there for their kids, training them by deed and word. I can tell you by my own successes and failures, being there still works.

I was reminded of the importance of this idea of parental training both by the terrible killings in Connecticut and by a picture and text I received from my son Matthew a few day ago.

Matthew took his daughter Morgan, who just turned 13, on a hunting trip a few counties over. The picture was of Morgan squatting in front of a deer holding its rack. She will, also, be learning to hunt with a compound bow.

I am glad to see my son teaching his daughter how to operate a gun and bow safely like he was taught. I started him out on a BB gun and every year or two progressed to a bigger, more powerful gun. In Bradley County, many people own guns and are avid hunters and/or sport shooters, both male and female.

Most of these folks who cherish their gun rights are serious with their gun safety training they provide to members of their families. They have gun locks on their guns and their children know to leave the guns alone, unless a parent is present. A big part of this training is to dispel the mystery of guns and to satisfy the natural curiosity of a child.

You can satisfy that curiosity by going through the basics of how to operate a gun, and where and where not to point it. Then, when your child is old enough, take him/her to the range or safe place and let them shoot. These exercises will help to satisfy that curiosity. They will be armed with the knowledge of how to keep safe and accident free.

Good safety training with regular updates will result in good accident free behavior. Training is very important. The primary safety rules taught by the NRA and by us involved in the permit program are:

1. Always keep the gun unloaded until ready to use;

2. Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction; and

3. Always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.

Finally, two of the most frequent times that people accidentally shoot themselves is with guns only thought to be unloaded, or when cleaning guns.

So, you should always check a gun for yourself to make sure it is unloaded. Then, you should always make sure a gun is unloaded and the ammunition is separated away from the area where you are cleaning it. These basic rules will ensure you remain safe.

Thanks for reading.