Natatia Bledsoe is the public information officer for the Fredericksburg Police Department.
Keep and bear arms, responsibly
While the second amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the rights of citizens to “keep and bear arms”, the guarantee does not absolve the owner or handler of a firearm from the significant responsibilities that are attached to such an entitlement.
Twice in just a few weeks, residents of Fredericksburg have placed themselves and their neighbors in danger through the careless handling and firing of weapons. In both cases, the bullets flew through the walls of the offenders’ own apartments and into the living spaces of their innocent neighbors. It was only through lucky circumstance that nobody was injured. The offenders in these cases, both legal gun owners, are each facing charges of discharging a firearm into an occupied dwelling and the reckless discharge of a firearm.
For reference, Merriam-Webster defines reckless as 1. marked by lack of proper caution, and 2. irresponsible.
The incidents on September 29 and October 16 both occurred during the very early morning hours, which perhaps factored into the subsequent manageable outcomes of damaged floors and drywall, but no tragedies. Since these cases were frightening but not disastrous, it is appropriate that they serve as a reminder to everyone of the critical importance of firearm safety and the rules that must always be followed when handling weapons.
- Always point the gun in a safe direction. A safe direction is one where even if the gun is fired, it will not cause damage or injure any person. The gun handler must always control where the muzzle of the gun is pointed.
- Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
- Keep the gun unloaded until ready to use. It is the responsibility of the gun handler to know whether or not the gun is loaded at all times and to make sure the gun is safe by clearing it of ammunition before cleaning or handling.
All gun owners should receive training in gun safety and should regularly practice safe handling and firing techniques in a secure setting to ensure that the habits of gun safety are attained and maintained.
There is simply no excuse for lack of concern or discipline when it comes to handling a lethal weapon.