Monday, March 11, 2013

Knowing is Half the Battle

A few months ago my family and I went to a friend's house for supper. It was a great chance to visit and see where some of my eggs and produce come from. Our friends run a sustainable ag produce farm and I've been very pleased to have purchased CSA shares from them. Some of the heirloom produce varieties are just so tasty its hard to pass up the opportunity!

Our friends also keep chickens and other fowl. I've really enjoyed the eggs we get from them from time to time. Anyone that's been around a farm where you have free-range birds knows that you are a prime target for predators. Southern Minnesota has seen a pretty healthy increase in the number of coyotes and other wildlife that loves chicken and turkey as much as we do. The reality is that you have to protect your animals.

Now I'm not going to argue rights to this or that, or controlling who has what, constitution, or whatever. That issue has nearly become a dead horse and everyone is holding a stick with which to beat it. What did come out of this visit with friends as a reminder that knowing how to use tools, regardless of their lethal capabilities, is sometimes not only helpful but also life saving.

We hadn't been in the house for more than 30 minutes when my eagle-eyed spouse noticed a rifle propped up in the corner of one room. Our friends don't have children so this wasn't a huge surprise to me; What surprised me was I was the only one in the group there who knew how to handle the weapon. First step when finding a firearm is finding if it is loaded, and this one was. 

I unloaded the gun, left the chamber open and handed it over to my friend who put it in a safer location. 

This seemed like a pretty scary incident to the folks that were there. I've been around and used firearms since I was young so it didn't phase me but everyone's reactions to the situation made an impression on me. It occurred to me how important training is.

Firearms are a part of our culture (for better or worse) and we all have a chance of coming in contact with a weapon at some point in our lives, especially when you live in a more rural area. There are so many deaths and injuries that could be prevented through simple education. My kids will certainly spend some time in a firearm safety class when they're old enough. We'll probably even head out to the farm some day and shoot at pop cans together. I would be terribly remiss as a parent if my children were in my situation at a friend's house and didn't know how to make a weapon safe.