Everyone knows those most basic of all firearms handling mantras.
1. Treat every gun as if they are always loaded
2. Only aim at something you are prepared to destroy and known what's behind it
3. Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to fire.
However even these three simple rules are often forgotten, neglected, or just blown past by those who would and should know better. New gun owners and those who have just received a new gun see the worst violations of these rules. In the excitement and rush of this shiny new piece of steel, things can get very real very quick.
Sometimes, before you even leave the parking lot.
KTVZ in Central Oregon reports that, "A Bend man who bought a handgun at Fred Meyer Tuesday morning went back inside just minutes later -- not to return it or ask a question, but to seek medical help, having shot himself in the hand while loading it, police said.
Officers say the man, in his late 20s, went back into the store just before noon and told employees he'd just shot himself.
They said he had just bought the .22 Magnum Derringer and was in his pickup, loading it when it went off. The round went through his left hand and into the truck's door, officers said.
(These simple 2-barrel derringers have been around for 150-years, but if you aren't familiar with them, they can have a pretty rough bite)
The North Penn Reporter broke the story that "State police say a western Pennsylvania man who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound had just bought a new gun and apparently fired it accidentally.
Troopers from the Butler barracks say 21-year-old Matthew Jude Hughes shot himself in the abdomen about 1:30 a.m. Tuesday at a residence in Center Township, about 30 miles north of Pittsburgh.
Police say three other people were there at the time, but not in the same room.
Trooper Dan Kesten says police are still investigating, but believe Hughes shot himself because he may not have been familiar with the weapon."
How to prevent this
Every gun come with a manual, and if it doesn't contact the maker and they will provide one free. They can ususally be found online in pdf format. Use them!
Both of the above were first reported on the same day this week. While it is second nature amongst the males of our species to buy something, be it computer, grill, power tool, Blu-ray player, whatever, and never bother to crack the manual until messes up, doing this with a gun can get you killed. Always read the firearm's manual cover to cover first, and inspect the operation of any new (or new to you) gun without any ammunition in the same room to ensure that you are well aware of everything about it before you attempt to load it for the first time.
Even then, follow the three basic rules. I was not in Butler, PA or Bend Oregon this week to tell you for sure, but odds are, if these gentlemen would have followed the three basic rules, these stories would not exist.
Nevertheless, they do, so learn from them.
Be safe out there.