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Firearm owners reminded safety remains top priority - Deerstalkers' Association

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The Firearms Safety Council Aotearoa New Zealand is urging firearm owners to make sure they obey the rules of firearm safety while maintaining or handling any rifle, shotgun or airgun during the Covid 19 lockdown.

The Council’s deputy chair Bill O’Leary says while the Covid 19 emergency is preventing hunters from going out during the peak hunting period, the Roar, it does provide a good opportunity for maintenance.

"It is disappointing that hunting is postponed for the four weeks of the lockdown, but hunters should make the most of the chance to ensure their rifles and other firearms are in perfect working order," Bill O’Leary says.

"Give them a good clean, check that screws and sights are tight, secured and in safe working condition," he says.

But Bill O’Leary is also urging all firearm owners to comply with basic safety rules.

"Whether it is in the home or in the bush, the seven basic rules of safe firearms handling should be second nature to all firearm licence holders," he says.

"Treat the rifle, shotgun or airgun as loaded at all times, and make sure the barrel is always pointing in a safe direction. And of course make sure they are safely locked away when you have finished your maintenance schedule."

Bill O’Leary says firearm safety is stressed during the rigorous vetting and training process people have to go through to get a firearms licence. This process was introduced nearly 40 years ago in the 1983 Arms Act.

He says that safety focus is paying off with numbers of firearm accidents in the home falling.

"Fifty years ago, the Commissioner of Police reported a firearms accident in the home every month. Now, such incidents are very rare events, even though there are many more firearm owners.

"We don’t want a return to those bad old days and want to remind all firearm owners to not let their guard down during the current health crisis when they are cleaning and maintaining their hunting equipment," Mr O’Leary says.

"We want everyone to be properly prepared to go and safely enjoy their hunting when the lockdown is lifted."

The Firearm Safety Council Aotearoa New Zealand’s members come from major hunting, shooting and firearm organisations.

It provides advice to government agencies and other organisations on firearms safety related matters, as well as undertaking research to promote firearms safety.

The Seven Basic Rules of Safe Firearm and Airgun Handling

1. TREAT EVERY FIREARM AS LOADED - Check every firearm yourself.

- Pass or accept only an open or unloaded firearm.

2. ALWAYS POINT FIREARMS IN A SAFE DIRECTION

- Always point the muzzle in a safe direction. Especially when loading and unloading.

3. LOAD A FIREARM ONLY WHEN READY TO FIRE

- Load only the magazine after you reach your shooting area.

- Load the chamber only when ready to shoot.

- Completely unload before leaving the shooting area.

4. IDENTIFY YOUR TARGET BEYOND ALL DOUBT

- Movement, colour, sound and shape can all deceive you.

- Assume colour, shape, sound, and shape to be human until proven otherwise

5. CHECK YOUR FIRING ZONE

- THINK! What may happen if you miss your target? What might you hit between you and the target or beyond?

- Do not fire when you know others are in your firing zone

6. STORE FIREARMS AND AMMUNITION SAFELY

- When not in use, lock away the bolt, firearm and ammunition separately.

- Never leave firearms in a vehicle that is unattended

7. AVOID ALCOHOL AND DRUGS WHEN HANDLING

FIREARMS - Good judgement is the key to safe use of firearms.

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