I have many a fond memory of plinking in my grandparents’ backyard with my brother and his Daisy Red Ryder BB gun. Like many whose firearms interest started at a young age, that was my and my bro’s first introduction to guns. Well before we were allowed to pepper any empty soda cans or milk jugs with copper BBs, our dad taught us how to operate it safely. He told us if we wanted to shoot my brother’s Daisy, we had to always treat it as loaded, to never point it at anyone or at anything that he hadn’t okayed as a target, to pay attention to what might be behind our targets, to keep our fingers out of the trigger guard until we were ready to take a shot, and that we could only play with the BB gun outside. Even then, we had to keep it pointed away from the house. He quizzed us on these rules until we could repeat each from memory. Apart from making our shooting safer, my dad’s rules made my brother’s “toy” seem that much cooler because we had to treat it like a “real gun.”
Looking back, I realize that learning to treat my brother’s Red Ryder with the respect a potentially dangerous tool deserves is still important. In a tragic recent news story, a young man was playing with a BB gun—much like my brother and my favorite childhood “toy”—in his apartment when he accidentally pulled the trigger. The BB struck his 18-month-old son. The child was brought to the hospital, but died later that night. If the father had utilized safe firearms handling with his BB gun, his child’s death may have been prevented.
I remember feeling increasingly impatient while my dad schooled my brother and I on how to be safe with the Daisy. But, as an adult, I’m glad he spent so much time teaching us the importance of safe firearms handling. BB guns, pellet guns, air rifles, and other projectile guns may not use a propellant substance like gunpowder, but they can still be dangerous and should be handled responsibly.
Featured image courtesy of daisy.com