Mass. gun-safety info rates a D-minus

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Mass. gun-safety info rates a D-minus
UPDATED: 02/20/2017 09:27:52 AM EST

Amid much hoopla in the press, our attorney general and the Massachusetts Medical Society have just put forth new “informational brochures” on gun safety. Being a longtime firearms safety instructor, and always interested in acquiring new instructional aids to get the message across, I went to their website to check them out.

There’s a basic problem with these much-heralded publications – they omit any mention of the three “Always” rules of gun safety:

Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.

Always keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.

Always keep the gun unloaded until ready to use.

The cardinal rule of gun safety – “Treat every firearm with the respect due a loaded gun” – is also missing. You’d also think that since the medical professionals are involved, there’d be a mention of personal protective equipment – i.e., safety glasses and earmuffs/plugs. Nope. Or how about a reminder to wash your hands after shooting, to remove any traces of lead dust before eating? Nope.

Many hunters and marksmen, in addition to taking their NRAand hunter safety trainings, have taken first-aid classes so that they are familiar with the basics – check, call, care – of emergency medical treatment. It would be a good idea for our doctors to likewise take some real firearms-safety classes and get themselves some range time, so that they become familiar with the subject, hands-on.

However, one part of their brochure that should be commended is where they recommend disposing of unwanted firearms through licensed dealers or collectors. That way people can receive their full value, rather than only $50 or $75 from a gun buy-back program: “Guns can be sold to licensed dealers or individuals. This is often the best option for a legally owned firearm, as it allows the owner to be fully compensated for the value of the weapon.”

These gun buy-back programs exist mainly to make the politicians and police chiefs look like they’re doing something to fight crime, whereas in reality they are ripping off widows and children. Oftentimes photos show classic collectors items – Colt Pythons, Winchester Model 70s, Savage 99s – from Grandpa’s closet, and historic guns that he brought back home from fighting for freedom in the far corners of the globe, amongst the turned-in guns. Some of these firearms are worth thousands of dollars – not just a coupon for a pair of sneakers.

Interestingly, last week’s Boston Magazine reported there is never an arrest in 96 percent of non-fatal shootings in Boston. With these crimes occurring just a short walk from Attorney General Maura Healey’s desk, it appears that protecting the lives and civil rights of persons living in lower socioeconomic neighborhoods is not a law enforcement priority.

Also, last summer there was an interesting article in the British Medical Journal that listed “Medical Error” as the third largest cause of death here: “If medical error was a disease, it would rank as the third leading cause of death in the US.” The report’s chart shows medical error (251,000) behind heart disease (611,000) and cancer (585,000), but far ahead of suicide (41,000), firearms and motor vehicles (34,000 each) as causes of death in 2013. So these new publications from our AG and the MMArate grades of D-minus overall. The commonwealth would best be

served if our attorney general and the Massachusetts Medical Society would focus their attentions on their own particular bailiwicks, and leave our HIPAA and civil rights unmolested.

ART O’LEARY Leominster

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