Alaska editorial: Every Gun is loaded

This editorial first appeared in the Anchorage Daily News:

On Friday came the good news that Ashton Chinnis, the 2-year-old Anchorage boy shot in the head when a gun discharged in an adjoining condo, was improving. May that continue to a full recovery. We can’t imagine a better Christmas gift for his family

It’s a gift that shouldn’t have been necessary.

Police said that Ronald Flannigon was handling a handgun when he accidentally fired a shot that went through a wall and struck the sleeping boy.

No charges have been filed, though the case was still under investigation as of Friday. If Flannigon is a decent man, he’s miserable as hell right now.

There’s an old lesson here that bears repeating and those of us who have firearms should take it to heart. Every gun is loaded, all the time. The right handling of firearms is necessary, all the time. You want that gospel from the source? Ask the people with expertise and years of experience in firearms use — whether for target shooting, hunting, self-defense or in combat. They’ll tell you. Never treat a firearm, or any weapon, lightly.

Or you can ask those who have been on either end of a terrible accident.

This is the season when some Alaskans will give and receive firearms as gifts. None of them are toys.

Many Alaskans have grown up with firearms as part of the household, and for many Alaskans the Second Amendment has no ambiguity — the right to bear arms is an individual right. In 1994, Alaskans amended our state constitution to say so.

The right to have deadly force at our fingertips comes with a dead-serious responsibility. The only way to take up a firearm is to do so while sober, careful and well-versed in its handling, with a care for both yourself and the people around you — even those you can’t see, on the other side of the wall.

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