OLD TOWN — Maine has a tradition of outdoor sportsmanship and many people own guns.
“Part in parcel of that is responsible and safe gun use and a reverence for that tool and its lethality,” said Cam Shannon, chair of the Maine Gun Safety Coalition.
There have been three accidental shootings involving children in Maine this year — in January in Waterville, in May in West Bath, and most recently, in June in Temple.
“When guns are safely stored, ammunition is stored separately, triggers are locked, children who are naturally curious won’t stumble upon a weapon and, just by being children, hurt themselves or others,” Shannon said.
Old Town Trading Post owner David Lorenz said safety begins with education.
“Sit a young person down and say, ‘This is the components of a firearm. This is how it works. This is mine, but I don’t want you to be afraid of it, but I want you to understand that this is not a toy. This has to be taken seriously,'” Lorenz said.
“If they feel they don’t know enough about safe storage, I would advise them to take a course on hunter safety so they are sure to be employing the best practices,” Shannon said.
Lorenz said the first thing to do when handling a gun is check the chamber to make sure it’s empty.
“If there’s a magazine included, remove the magazine first, check the chamber, always point it in a safe direction, and you can assume it’s unloaded,” Lorenz said.
According to Lorenz, it’s important to know where the gun is pointing.
“If you start with muzzle awareness, and then additionally have awareness of where your hands are, accidents won’t happen,” Lorenz said.
Shannon said there are several bills in the state legislature that would assist with gun safety.