Gun Safety: Being irresponsible can lead to tragic outcomes

For one reason or another, a man in Nitro, W.Va., decided he needed to take a firearm with him when he left home several days ago. As he was getting ready to leave, he laid the gun down for just a moment or two.

His 3-year-old son picked it up and accidentally shot himself in the head. The child died.

This kind of tragedy occurs far too often. Nothing like it should ever happen.

If you own guns — and they are present in about 40 percent of American households (perhaps in an even greater percentage here in the Mid-Ohio Valley) — realize they are an enormous responsibility. In many ways, they are a unique threat to the safety of children — yours or anyone else’s who can gain access to them for even a few seconds.

Certainly there has been a great deal of talk lately about “responsible gun owners,” but that means more than simply not committing intentional illegal acts.

Firearms can be stored and handled safely. All that is needed is adherence to a set of common-sense safety rules. But they have to be followed all the time, every time. The penalty for failure to do so can be unbearably harsh.