Handle with extreme care

Published 2:59 pm Saturday, December 8, 2018

It’s the nightmare of every responsible person who handles firearms: In spite of all the training and precautions, a gun accidentally goes off, hurting or, worse, killing another person.

That gut-wrenching scenario happened early Wednesday morning as two men were hunting deer on private land near Ivor. As we reported online Thursday — and is in print today — the Virginia Conservation Police determined that one of the hunters had his loaded gun on a sling and on his shoulder. As he took off the firearm from his shoulder, something caught the trigger guard, causing the gun to fire.

As a result, the other hunter — a 69-year-old Newport News man — was struck and killed by the bullet.

We infer that both men were quite experienced in hunting, and knew full well how to properly handle such weaponry. Regardless, we cannot begin to imagine the horror either felt as it happened. The surviving hunter will forever be asking himself over and over again: “How did this happen?”

We can only sympathize, and add these words of advice from the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries for all other hunters — especially young men and women learning the craft:

  1. Treat every firearm as if it were loaded.
  2. Control the direction of your muzzle, only pointing at what you intend to shoot.
  3. Before shooting, clearly identify your game and what is beyond.

What should also be added here is that transporting a loaded weapon invites added danger. Weapons should only be loaded once a hunter has reached his or her stand and is prepared to fire, and should be unloaded prior to leaving the stand as well. This incident is a teachable moment for parents and their children who hunt. These are lessons to be taken to heart and mind so that such tragedies do not happen to them.