Fatal shootings contrast sadly with increased hunting security

The tragic and accidental shooting death of a 9-year-old girl in Houston this week showed what can happen when a bullet misses its target. Ironically, this stands in stark contrast to a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department report that found 2021 to be the safest year on record for hunters in Texas.

That sense of security might have helped on Monday night, when a man who had been robbed at an ATM pulled out his own gun and fired several shots at the man who had just robbed him.

The thief fled and the victim then fired at a passing truck, which he thought contained the thief. The thief was not in that vehicle, but a family of five unrelated to the theft was. One of the bullets fired by the robbery victim passed through the rear window and killed the 9-year-old girl.

This shot would never be used as an example of best practice in gun safety. Hunters, or any shooter, must always be certain of what they are shooting at and be aware of what is behind the target in case they miss. Even police officers are instructed not to shoot at a vehicle under almost any circumstance, and certainly one that might contain several people.

Tragedies like this show the unexpected results of what can happen when a gun is fired. Yet the outstanding safety record of Texas hunters shows the other side of this situation, gun owners who act more responsibly.

Hunters in Texas were involved in just one accidental shooting death last year, the lowest since the state began keeping such records in 1966. This is the third straight year that hunters in the Texas are only involved in fatal shootings. Beyond last year’s single fatality, state hunters have only been involved in 11 other accidental shootings.

That’s an incredible safety record. Each year, hundreds of thousands of hunters handle firearms countless times. They load them, they unload them. They put them in vehicles and take them out. They walk with them outdoors, often over rough terrain. They shoot at paper targets and at game such as turkeys and white-tailed deer.

Yet with all this handling of pistols, rifles and shotguns, only 12 accidental shootings occurred, and only one of them was fatal. It’s incredible.

The hunter education classes that all Texans born after September 2, 1971 must take are a key part of outdoor safety. Currently, about half of all hunters in Texas have taken the course. It emphasizes basic gun safety, such as how to handle a gun, when to shoot or not to shoot, etc.

The record shows that people in Texas, or any state, who have been educated on how to use firearms will have a much higher safety record than those who don’t. This process won’t prevent all accidental shootings or deaths, but it will make them much less likely. This level of education is a good idea for any Texan who hunts in the woods or drives on city streets.