Avoid a tragedy — follow ALL gun safety rules

You can’t stress gun safety enough. Make it more than a habit to be safe with guns, because it only takes one tiny moment to make a mistake, and that mistake can be devastating.

Riverton recently lost one of its most wonderful young men. I didn’t know Levi well, but I’d met him a few times. He was a great kid.

I realize today’s show risks upsetting Levi’s friends and family, but I want to do whatever I can to prevent another tragic loss like this one.

Let me explain what happened, at least as I understand it. Several friends had gotten together at a house. They had drinks, but not enough to get drunk. That wasn’t the point of the gathering. But even a little bit of alcohol begins to impair judgement.

One of the young men brought out his new rifle to show the group. He unloaded it and showed it around. After everyone had seen it, he put it down off to the side. This was the second mistake. It should have been locked away.

I don’t know the particulars of what happened next. I don’t know if the young men kept drinking, but I understand none of them was intoxicated. All I know for sure is that one of the young men put the bullets back in the gun, probably thinking he was being helpful to the gun’s owner. Or maybe it was the gun owner himself.

Then one of the others picked the gun up again. Then came a series of mistakes – all of which are taught in hunter safety or any firearms class as what not to do.

The muzzle was not kept pointed in a safe direction. There was a finger inside the trigger guard. The safety was not on. The gun was not treated as though it were loaded (which it actually was, even though most thought it was not). And the gun was not locked away when alcohol was being consumed.

The result is the loss of a wonderful young man, and the devastation of everyone involved. Please, please, please – handle all firearms safely. Never, ever ignore any of the safety rules. It only takes a moment to make a tragedy.