As my readers know I own several firearms. My wife owns more than I do. However, reading this article caused me to reflect upon safety.
I have been taught, in one variation or another, the following safety rules:
The Four Rules of Firearms Handling
by Jeff Cooper
ALL GUNS ARE ALWAYS LOADED
The only exception to this occurs when you have a firearm in your hands and you have personally unloaded it for checking. As soon as you put it down, Rule 1 applies again.
NEVER LET THE MUZZLE COVER ANYTHING YOU ARE NOT PREPARED TO DESTROY
You may not wish to destroy it, but you must be clear in your mind that you are quite ready to if you let that muzzle cover the target. To allow a firearm to point at another human being is a deadly threat, and should always be treated as such.
KEEP YOUR FINGER OFF THE TRIGGER UNTIL YOUR SIGHTS ARE ON THE TARGET
This we call the Golden Rule because its violation is responsible for about 80 percent of the firearms disasters we read about.
BE SURE OF YOUR TARGET AND WHAT IS BEYOND IT
You never shoot at anything until you have positively identified it. You never fire at a shadow, or a sound, or a suspected presence. You shoot only when you know absolutely what you are shooting at and what is beyond it.
They are very good advice indeed. Guns scare me. So I treat them with respect. I have yet to have a gun related injury.
But the single most scary thing in our home is not a gun. It's useless for home defense. I have never enjoyed using it. And it frightens me much more than anything else, far and away.
It is my table saw. Non-woodworkers are probably chuckling right now, but anyone who has ever used a table saw knows why I wrote that. I have a good quality saw, I know how to use it and I do use it. But I hate and fear it. The alleged safety gear makes working with it cumbersome and makes me much more prone to making a bad move. Removing the safety gear allows me better access to the wood, meaning that I can use it more skillfully and thus more safely. But even with correct technique and skilled use, accidents can and do happen. All it takes is one small piece of wood whizzing past you at a very high rate of speed to drive the fear of Delta deep into your soul.
Unfortunately, even though I have a good band saw, sometimes there is no good alternative to the table saw. Which means that I have to use a device that is inherently dangerous or abandon a project out of fear.
One day I may very well sell my table saw. But having it has helped me realize that life is not without risk. There is no absolute safety anywhere. It is best not to dwell upon that fact, but to carry on and do the best that one can. Sometimes when something bad happens, no one is to blame. Cliches all, but true nonetheless.
I reckon having a table saw is why I am no longer a left winger. I am willing to be responsible for my own safety and for the safety of others. I am willing to assume the risk, because I am an adult and I have weighed the risks and benefits.
Of course if I slice my hand off Saturday, I may be voting for Nader. ;)