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Care And Commonsense Required Handling Firearms

New Zealand Mountain Safety Council – MEDIA RELEASE

11 September 2008

Care And Commonsense Required At All Times When Handling Firearms

The tragic death of a Whangamata man on Tuesday highlights the need for firearms owners to use commonsense and comply with the seven basic rules of firearms safety at all times says Mike Spray, Firearms and Hunter Training Programme Manager for the New Zealand Mountain Safety Council.

According to the Police, the man appears to have accidentally shot himself following use of recreational drugs and alcohol.

Mr Spray says that firearms owners need not only to know the seven firearms safety rules, but to apply each of them at all times.

“This regrettable incident could have been avoided by following the first two rules: ‘treat every firearm as loaded’ and ‘always point a firearm in a safe direction’.

“You must never assume a firearm is empty. Regularly check that the magazine and chamber do not hold any ammunition. You should also never point a firearms at yourself or anyone else,” says Mr Spray.

“You must also be able to think clearly when handling firearms. Rule number seven – ‘avoid alcohol or drugs when handling firearms’- is common sense. Alcohol and some drugs including prescription drugs dull and slow your mental and physical reactions.

“It’s like driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. We all know that driving when impaired can result in tragedy and handling firearms is no different,” says Mr Spray.

“There are very few non-intentional incidents each year in New Zealand which lead to injury or death. This is an indication that the most firearms owners act responsibly around firearms. However on the occasions when firearms users do drop their guard, the consequences can be serious. All firearms users need to stay alert at all times when handling firearms and take special care,” says Mr Spray

Even the most experienced firearms user can benefit from a refresher course on firearms safety. The New Zealand Mountain Safety Council provides firearms safety training courses. Any person can enquire at their local Police Arms Office about these courses.

The Seven Basic Rules of Safe Firearms Handling

1. TREAT EVERY FIREARM AS LOADED
- Check every firearm yourself.
- Pass or accept only an open or unloaded firearm.
2. ALWAYS POINT FIREARMS IN A SAFE DIRECTION
- Loaded or unloaded, always point the muzzle in a safe direction.
3. LOAD A FIREARM ONLY WHEN READY TO FIRE
- Load only the magazine after you reach your shooting area.
- Load the chamber only when ready to shoot.
- Completely unload before leaving the shooting area.
4. IDENTIFY YOUR TARGET BEYOND ALL DOUBT
- Movement, colour, sound and shape can all deceive you.
- Assume colour, shape, sound, and shape to be human until proven otherwise.
5. CHECK YOUR FIRING ZONE
- THINK! What may happen if you miss your target? What might you hit between you and the target or beyond?
- Do not fire know others are in your firing zone.
6. STORE FIREARMS AND AMMUNITION SAFELY
- When not in use, lock away the bolt, firearm and ammunition separately.
- Never leave firearms in a vehicle that is unattended.
7. ALCOHOL IMPAIRS JUDGEMENT
- Good judgement is the key to safe use of firearms.


ENDS


www.mountainsafety.org.nz

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