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Accidental Shooting Kills Oregon Teen: What Can We Learn?

Here's the latest tragic headline that came across the wire: Community remembers Forest Grove teen killed in Saturday shooting.

Last Saturday Cory Ward, 18, and Trenton Joseph Lester (pictured at left), 15, were involved in the incident, which is being called an accidental shooting by Ward and Racheal Ensfield, 14, who was a witness.

From The Oregonian:

Both Ward and the girl have told police that the victim and Ward were horsing around with a shotgun that likely belonged to Ward's father, said Forest Grove Capt. Mike Herb. They apparently stopped for a while, Herb said. But while Lester was sitting on the back patio near the girl, Ward walked up to Lester and shot him in the head "from fairly close range," Herb said.

Photo Courtesy of Lester Family

This story is very tragic and serves as a grim and powerful reminder that firearm safety must be practiced at all costs and at all times. It is also a reminder that two things get people "accidentally" shot: complacency and ignorance. Both of these can be rectified with proper training and a little forethought. If these two teenagers were respectfully knowledgeable of the firearm and the proper procedure for safe weapons handling, this incident would never have happened. Unfortunately, that was not the case, and one teenager is dead and the other may be going to jail for a very long time.

I first heard the term Accidental Discharge (AD) when I was a Marine Corps Recruit at Parris Island, S.C.  Since that day it has been a constant source of fear and stress when I am dealing with firearms.  I never wanted to be one of "those guys" that has had an AD. Those guys were viewed as reckless, idiotic and a liability in a unit. It was a branding that would get you punished and ridiculed. It was later as a police officer that the term AD was being replaced with the term Negligent discharge (ND).  This term better defines the image and hazard associated with the act.

In what ways are you ensuring that those in your circle of influence (including yourself) handle firearms in a safe and appropriate manner?  Personally, I teach the four safety rules and use analogies such as the "laser rule" to drive it home. For those that have never heard of the laser rule, it is simply pretending that there is a laser pointing directing out of the barrel of the firearm at all times. This laser cuts and destroys anything it touches. The idea is to keep it from destroying things you wish to remain intact, figuratively speaking of course. Anyone else use the laser rule? Use any others?

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