Monday, April 21, 2008

Shooting At An Unidentified Target...

...that you simply think must be your intended target can have devastating results. One of the cardinal rules of firearms safety is to be sure of your target and what is beyond, and there are few if any circumstances where one, let alone both parts of this rule (the sure of your target part and the sure of what is beyond part), should ever be broken. While shooting for sport, for fun, for food, to test a gun, and in almost all other instances of shooting, the shooter must steadfastly follow this rule to remain safe, and to keep others safe. It really is a basic rule of firearms safety. When you do not follow it the chances increase dramatically that something bad will happen, and that bad thing could well be someone being injured or killed.

One of the worst things that could happen, probably the worst, is that the shooter kills an innocent person. It gets even worse though when that person is a loved one; much worse still when that person is your own son. This is apparently just what happened in the case of a turkey hunter who was out hunting while his son accompanied him. You can see the available details here: http://www.startribune.com/local/17956264.html. The man who shot his own son already spent about 1/4 of his 39 years bringing up the boy. He probably will now spend the rest of his life lamenting the fact that he killed his son because of what seems should have been a truly avoidable accident on his part. Mind you, none of this, as I see it, was a mistake on the part of the boy who reportedly had been told to stay put where his father had left him and who then decided to move - after all boys will be boys. It was a mistake on the part of the dad who, in my opinion, exercised extremely bad judgement if the reports are correct. Please understand, I don't say that to condemn the dad. He is going to live with this forever, nothing I can say could make it worse for him and it is not my intent to try to do so. I say this to stress the point that firearms safety is the responsibility of the shooter; and if you are going shooting, or if you will handle firearms, you had best be aware of and exercise the rules of firearms safety. Yes you, because hopefully it is not already too late to get you to follow those rules to avoid a similar disaster.

The loss of the little boy, Hunter Klaseus, is a tragedy, one that no parent should ever have to endure; and that is why I write about it here. If you are a shooter - follow the rules of gun safety. No, not the abbreviated '4 Rules' (as they are called), but all of the rules of firearms safety. Follow them even more than you abide by other safety rules. Don't hedge on them a bit as you probably do with driving safety rules such as when you go just a few miles over the speed limit, or when you sort of stop at a stop sign, or when you just have one or two or maybe even that third drink before driving. Don't give an inch on firearms safety rules as you may sometimes do when it comes to being safe with electrical appliances such as when you use an electrical appliance near the sink or tub full of water (hairdryer, electric shaver) without a safety breaker outlet, or when you use a knife or fork to pull that stuck piece of toast out of the toaster without first unplugging it (heck you know it is off - right). Don't take a chance with a firearm as you do when you decide to run across the street before the light turns green in your favor, or when you fail to look both ways even though it is a one way street. Don't give an inch when it comes to firearms safety because chances are the resulting 'accident' will be tragic, and you as the shooter will have to live with the result.

Learn the rules of firearms safety, and live them when you are around firearms. Doing so may just save a life, and save you from a lifetime of tragic and devastating grief. There are plenty of places you can look to find firearms safety rules, my site being one of them: http://ballseyesboomers.blogspot.com/2007/06/ballseyes-firearms-tactics-training-1.html. In fact that was my very first post under my Firearms Training and Tactics series. To me safety is the number 1 concern when shooting. Another source for firearms safety rules is the National Rifle Association at http://www.nrahq.org/education/guide.asp. You can also go to firearms manufacturers to see their version of the rules, such as at Remington: http://www.remington.com/pdfs/safety/sftybklt.pdf or to a more generalized page at: http://www.remington.com/safety/safety_center/. Hunter safety courses, firearms safety courses, basic shooting courses, are all out there, and all teach about, or should teach about, firearms' safety rules. If you are going to shoot, be safe about it, or face the consequences as terrible as they may be.

My heartfelt condolences go out to the family and loved ones of Hunter Klaseus; and I dedicate this to his memory in the hope that you all learn from this sad and tragic mistake, and therefore that you keep it safe when shooting.

Respectfully,
Glenn B

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I agree with everything written above and have felt the same way. I hope that Mr Klaseus looses his PRIVILAGE to hunt again in his lifetime. He should be tried and convicted of at least manslaughter. What triggered my anger even more was the comment on KSTP Noon News, the comment from Amber Klaseus that said Hunter didnt always obey instructions. That is simply outrageous, the child should have no blame in this whatsoever. In a feeble attempt to try to take some of the guilt off Hunter's father whom Im very sure is suffering greatly as he should be. Hunting "accidents" dont occur, not paying attention to the rules is what kills. Hunter may not have obeyed his father, but the father didnt obey the rules of hunting as well. Sad, Sad day for all hunters who now have yet another tag of how we handle weapons.

MightyMom said...

OH too too sad.

Can I ask a stupid question?

I thought all hunters wore bright colors (like neon orange) specifically so they can be identified by other hunters as human??

Glenn Bartley said...

I'll reply to both comments; actually I already did but lost the reply in cyberspace somehow.

As for hunting turkeys and wearing orange, nope it does not work that way. You would probably never see a turkey if wearing a lot of orange. They are dumb but very wary of their surroundings. So hunters wear camo when they hunt turkeys, usually from head to toe, and some even put camo on their guns (some guns are sold with camo designs just for turkey hunting). You also never wear red, white or blue when turkey hunting; this because those are colors found on a turkey's head, and the head is the point of aim.

As to the other comment, I don't think you understood everything I was saying, at least I don't think we agree on everything. Hunting accidents do occur. They can be caused by many things, negligence being only one of them. In this case it appears to have been a combination of things that led up to this accident. The root cause though seems to be negligence with a firearm, but I am not sure of that and would need further information to be sure. It may not have been negligence at all. It could have been that the dad saw a turkey approach, maybe even had a bead on one, then shot at it, missed, and hit his son whom he had not seen in the tall grass. I know it does not sound like that, but al of the news articles were very skimpy on details. In a case like that, I could not ever see arresting the father for negligent homicide. Even if the father had been foolish enough just to shoot at rustling leaves I am not sure an arrest is warranted. There are many cases of people driving who wind up being negligent just for a moment, and that negligence then causes a fatal collision, and the negligent driver is not charged with anything. Of course if the negligence was caused by a depraved indifference for human life as evidenced though repeated poor firearms handling as witnessed by others at other times, or if illegal drugs or alcohol were involved - throw the book at him.

As for the boy not staying where he was told to stay – you cannot say that did not play a part in this accident. It played a major part, and the boy’s actions were in part cause of the accident. That is not to place blame, that is to understand that such an event cannot happen unless many things fall into place. The boy being where he was in the grass was one of those factors. So as for the mom saying what she said – what do you expect her to say. This is her husband of many years. This is the man she chose to be with for the rest of her life, and whom she had children with. She probably is not blaming the boy, but she is making an excuse for her husband. Why – well because she loves him, and because he is the father of her children, and because both of them are devastated, and because she knows he never meant to harm his son, and that he loved his son ever so dearly. She will probably also curse him and wish him dead and her boy back in her arms. It will be a rocky road for them as husband and wife, and for them and the surviving daughters as a family. If that makes you mad, you may need to take a moment, compose yourself, and wonder if you have any cause just to be mad.

In my opinion, you should not get mad about this at all, unless of course you are a family member or friend of the little boy. Then I could understand mad mixed with a lot of other emotions. As a matter of fact, I think you have a rather twisted sense of self importance in such a personal matter as for you to get angry about how the mother reacts to her husband having accidentally killed their son, and for being mad at anything the mother of the child said in her time of grief if you were not also a close family relative of the boy (and even if you were, heck especially if you were a relative – you should not comment on your anger now). This is after all – not about you and how you feel. Discussing this rationally is one thing, getting all fired up and emotional and showing disrespect for the family is another.

As for taking away the hunting privileges of the father; well that might be advisable, then again there may be another solution if he is actually guilty of negligence in his son’s death. He should also be ordered by a court to become a hunter safety instructor. Once so certified he should have to travel, at least throughout his own state, teaching hunter safety courses each year for the remainder of his life. In each class he should have to stress firearms safety, and use the loss of his son as an example to others of what can happen if you even momentarily ignore the rules of firearms safety. I am not saying this would or should be considered as a punishment, or that it should be considered vindictive in any way. Rather it should be seen as what it is, an opportunity to have someone who was unsafe with a firearm, and who lost his own son by his own hand because of firearms negligence, to give a hunter safety class that no one who took it would ever forget. In that light it might be the thing that prevented a potential future hunting or firearms accident similar to the one involving little Hunter. In addition, I think maybe the father should remain a hunter. I think it might be better if he was mandated to obtain a hunting license each year for the remainder of his life. For the first 5 years he should be obliged to hunt in a supervised hunt; and if he passes muster he then should be obliged to supervise others found guilty of hunting or hunter safety violations. Yes you can get as angry as you want and demand a jail sentence, and I am all for long jail sentences and even the death penalty where warranted; but not in this case. In this case, I think it would be better handled the way I have spelled it out above; but that is just my opinion and you are certainly entitled to have your own.

All the best,
Glenn B

MightyMom said...

I agree, I would never say that this man should be arrested for what appears (via scanty media coverage) to be an accident. Accidents happen to everyone. Even fatal ones and instead of judging we should be saying "There but by the grace of God (or whatever) go I" I actually believe it is that very feeling (fear) that it could have been me that stirs such anger in people. When a mother loses her mind (literally I mean) and kills her child(ren) why do we vilify her? cause ever mother has had moments of being fed up and is scared that they themselves might crack one day. Most never do..it's just a (irrational?) fear.

Yikes, I'm chatty tonight. Anyway, what I was getting at was this.

A) show mercy to the man, he'll relive that day for the rest of his life

B) that mother's statement never should have been taken and published. LEAVE THE GRIEVING ALONE. This is a major pet peeve of mine about our media. What was a reporter doing talking to the woman in the first place? If my son just died and a reporter comes to my door they better HOPE AND PRAY that I don't answer it. This angers me. I don't want to see pics of funerals or video clips showing accident survivors sobbing on each other's shoulders. Those people should never have had a camera shoved at them in the first place. And then to judge a person publically because of a statement they made before the boy is even buried is just mean and hateful.

OK, sorry Glenn, I'm taking up your comment box. thanks for the info about turkey hunting, I understand what you said. This was just a very sad accident.