— Paul Hampel (@phampel) November 24, 2014
The following is an open letter to the non-gun owning public after I read a story on CNN in which a woman accidentally shot herself in the head with a firearm she purchased in preparation for the riots in Ferguson, Missouri.
The woman, identified as 26-year-old Becca Campbell, was sitting in the passenger seat of her boyfriend’s car while the two were driving through the city with the newly purchased handgun. She began to wave the gun around, exclaiming, “We’re ready for Ferguson.” Apparently, she was “joking” around.
In the process of brandishing the loaded firearm in the confined space of the automobile, she pointed it in the direction of her boyfriend, who responded by ducking which caused him to rear-end another car. The sudden crash led Campell to pull the trigger, which sent a bullet right into her head. She died instantly.
Police are still investigating the incident to ensure that the boyfriend is telling the truth, according to CNN. But supposing that it’s true, here is my message to would-be gun owners.
Dear Would-be Gun Owner,
I would never tell you not to exercise your Second Amendment right. I firmly believe that every law-abiding citizen should have the right to keep and bear arms and if you fit that bill, meaning you’re not a prohibited person: felon, minor, domestic abuser, drug addict, mental defective, then by all means go out and get a gun.
But if you do, please be mindful of the fact that simply purchasing a firearm does not make you any safer! No. It does not. You need to learn how to safely and responsibly use that firearm before it becomes an asset to your self-defense posture.
See, contrary to what people may tell you, shooting is not a hobby, it’s a discipline. It takes great patience, a serious attention to detail and an entire lifetime to master. Yes, it’s also a lot of fun, but you can never let your guard down, you can never be too cautious and you can never forget to practice the fundamental rules of firearm safety:
- All guns are always loaded.
- Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.
- Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.
- Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.
Becoming a gun owner is a lifestyle change. If you’re not prepared to take it seriously, if you’re not prepared to take the time to learn and practice and learn more and practice more and learn even more and practice even more, and on and on for the rest of your life, it might be best to consider an alternative means to defend yourself because if you buy a gun and you don’t put the time and energy into learning how to responsibly use that tool, you risk not only killing yourself, like that poor woman did, but also those who are closest to you.
I don’t want to scare you out of your purchase, but I also want you to think about what’s on the line before you take the plunge.
GunsAmerica readers, anything I’m missing that you’d like to add to this open letter to would-be gun owners?