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Published: Friday, 7/16/2010

Follow gun-safety rules

Whenever a child is involved in a fatal gun accident - either as shooter or victim - people will ask whether gun ownership should be limited or young people should be allowed to handle weapons. But in at least one of two recent deadly shootings, those are the wrong questions.

On Monday, a Findlay man died after he was shot in the head as he was teaching his 7-year-old son how to shoot a 22-caliber rifle. The Hancock County Sheriff's Office is investigating, but at the moment it appears to have been a tragic accident.

Last month, a Defiance man died after he was shot in the side by a shotgun wielded by a 12-year-old boy. Apparently, the man was showing the boy the gun, then went into another room. The boy, thinking the gun wasn't loaded, pulled the trigger, blasting a hole through a wall and striking the man.

You might ask whether 7 years old - or even 12 years old - is too young to learn to shoot, or whether stricter gun-control laws might have prevented either incident. A better question would be whether in these cases, gun-safety rules were followed strictly enough.

Sadly, in the incident in Defiance, it appears that they weren't. People who are committed to the safe handling of weapons know always to assume that any weapon is loaded. They also know never to leave an unsupervised loaded weapon with anyone who is unfamiliar with gun safety.

According to the most recent statistics available from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, 642 people were killed accidentally by guns in 2006, while 17,215 people were shot accidentally in 2008 but did not die. Many of these deaths and injuries could have been prevented.

We will continue to speak out for reasonable regulations on the purchase, ownership, and use of firearms. These unfortunate incidents illustrate that knowing and following basic gun-safety rules is at least as important as protecting Second Amendment rights.

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