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Hunters should take gun safety more seriously

Shea Johnson, Sports Writer

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When you think guns, what comes to mind? Is it a SWAT specialist going after a criminal? An explosive, action-packed Hollywood film where a blood-thirsty man avenges his family? How about a long day out in a deer blind waiting on that one perfect shot to bring down a 10 point buck?

Hunting is a sport that many people around here take part in, because well, it’s not physically demanding and all you need is a gun and a license. There are no age requirements and licenses are cheap, around $10 depending on where you go, and rather easy to obtain.

According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife official website, certification is not required to purchase a hunting license. Children 9 and under must be accompanied by an adult of at least 17 years and children 9 through 16 must be accompanied OR complete a hunter education course. Adults 17 or older must successfully complete a hunter education course OR purchase a Hunter Education Deferral.

 But what most people do not realize is the importance of gun safety that hunter education courses teach and the impact that improper use of a firearm can have.

Last week, a local man was unintentionally shot by his nephew, who did not take a hunter education course, upon taking the boy for his first real hunting trip. He risked losing his leg, and now is in Intensive Care at the UMC hospital in Lubbock.

It is not just the uneducated that are the victims of these unfortunate events. In September 2012, a Dallas police officer’s gun accidentally discharged while cleaning and the five year veteran died almost instantly.

It was not a lack of knowledge that caused this accident. He was a trained professional who carried a gun every day, he knew better, but it still happened because somewhere along the line, there was a lack of caution.

The use of firearms is no joking matter, but anywhere there are weapons, there will be mishaps. Ridding the world of firearm related accidents is unrealistic, but by taking caution and knowing proper execution methods of the weapon, these mishaps would significantly decrease.

Hunter safety courses give this needed knowledge and teach proper storing, cleaning and execution methods, and provide the person with a chance to use the firearm before going into a serious situation such as hunting. 

A full list of available courses can be found on www.tpwd.state.tx.us/learning/hunter_education/homestudy.phtml.

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Hunters should take gun safety more seriously