Hays County Shoot Safe Firearm Safety Program

SIG_Fiend

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Hays plans safe shooting program

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

SAN MARCOS — A little over a year after 7-year-old Daniel Galicia was accidentally shot and killed by a neighbor who was shooting at a target in his backyard, Hays County commissioners are proposing a campaign to educate the public about safe shooting in the rapidly suburbanizing county. Commissioners are scheduled to vote today on putting $2,500 toward jump-starting the "Shoot Safe Hays County" campaign, which would at first focus on three points: treating every gun as if it were loaded; keeping fingers off the trigger; and looking beyond the target. The county plans to have a booth outside Cabela's this weekend to debut the program.
"I think (Galicia's death) made everyone in the county aware that as we transform from a rural community to a more suburban and urbanized county, the places where you could shoot safely in the past are not there anymore," said County Commissioner Karen Ford, who is co-sponsoring the program with County Judge Liz Sumter.

Jose Barrera Espitia pleaded guilty in July to manslaughter for causing Galicia's death; he was sentenced to eight years in prison. Espitia, a former construction worker with three children, told investigators that he was target shooting in his backyard when he accidentally killed the boy, who was jumping on a trampoline in a yard about one-third of mile away. Espitia said he did not see Daniel.

The campaign comes about five months after commissioners voted down an ordinance that would have banned shooting on lots smaller than two acres. All five commissioners said Monday that they support the new initiative, including Jeff Barton, who had proposed the failed ordinance.

Barton said he and Commissioner Will Conley are also working with gun enthusiasts on possibly building a county-supported shooting range complex.

However, "none of that is a substitute in my opinion for (a) smart shooting regulation that limits the ability to shoot on these quarter-acre lots," Barton said, "but it's a great step in the right direction."

Mike Cox, a licensed firearm safety instructor in Hays County and gun rights activist, said he supports the initiative and hopes to see it become an annual program before hunting seasons.
Perhaps I was a bit too optimistic and naive when I thought this program might be a good idea. Education is a great thing, and I feel that helping to educate our fellow gun owners on safety is a good thing as well. However, I have my suspicions that this new "Shoot Safe" program might ultimately be used to push future county firearms regulation or gun control policies. Honestly, I have really come to the conclusion that it is almost never a good idea for programs like these to be run or influenced by politicians. This should be purely a priority of citizens that have no investment other than the desire for public safety, not those whose reelections may be dependent on it.

One thing that concerns me is there seems to be a lot of focus on gun locks, possibly at the detriment of personal responsibility. Technically speaking, no one should need a gun lock as they should already know better than to be unsafe with a firearm. If they don't than they should certainly learn to be safer. That is sort of a utopian and unrealistic view I realize. My only point is that I feel personal and individual responsibility should always be paramount. Things like gun locks should always be secondary in assisting towards that goal. I completely understand if someone wants to have gun locks on a majority of their guns, especially if their are children present in the house. You never really know what idle little hands might end up doing. However, at the same time gun locks are unrealistic for firearms that people intend to keep at the ready for home defense. It has been proven many times over the years that, under extreme duress, a human being's fine motor skills generally degrade which makes unlocking things like gun locks extremely hard. It is my fear that, should this program be used in the future to push new county regulation, that mandatory gun lock usage could become a regulation that is pushed.

From what I've seen so far, Judge Liz Sumter and Commissioner Karen Ford seem to have a good head on their shoulders. It is my understanding that they were both against and voted against the firearms discharge regulation that Commissioner Jeff Barton proposed earlier in the year. However, I think one thing is clear. The next time elections come up we need to really work to get this Jeff Barton guy voted out of office, and some one else voted in that actually respects individual rights. I think it is quite clear, from the quote in bold above, that Commissioner Barton has one goal, and that is firearms regulation. So far nothing detrimental to our individual rights has happened as a result of this shoot safe program. Though they did only just unveil it this past Saturday so it is still in it's infancy. I will remain hopeful that it stays that way and provides nothing but some possibly well needed education to individuals that may not know any better. However, I will still be keeping my eyes out to make sure things don't start heading in the wrong direction.

I should also reiterate that this program was only just publicly unveiled this past Saturday, August 30th. Posting this only 3 days after it's unveiling is probably a bit premature. I'm sure most involved in this program only have the best intentions at heart. Even with the best intentions at heart, I feel it is necessary that we remain ever vigilant in protection of our civil/individual rights as there are too many out there that might end up trampling on them (whether intentional or unintentional) with "the best intentions" at heart.
 

Hoji

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May 28, 2008
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Honestly, I have really come to the conclusion that it is almost never a good idea for programs like these to be run or influenced by politicians. This should be purely a priority of citizens that have no investment other than the desire for public safety, not those whose reelections may be dependent on it.

Well...........................................................................duh.

Keep us posted on the whens and wheres.
 

tallmike

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Oct 21, 2008
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Hello, new guy here. I actually registered just to post something into this topic. =)

Before you go voting Jeff Barton out, be advised that he is working on getting us a public shooting range in the Buda/Kyle area. Im not saying you should vote for him, but make sure whoever you support also supports a new shooting range - unless you like driving to Lockhart to go shooting.


Politicians who agree with me rarely get elected (mostly a libertarian) so I just make sure I communicate my wishes and desires to those who are elected, frequently. At the local level (city and county) each vote is so important that they cant afford to ignore those who pay attention and speak loudly. Be the loud voice that they cant ignore. =)
 

2Many

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Sep 18, 2008
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Dripping Springs, TX
More importantly stay in touch with the politicians after they are elected/reelected. I have heard concerns voiced by folks close to this project that the politicians are playing nice until after election day. Just saying....
 

SIG_Fiend

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Yep, absolutely. I am realizing it's entirely possible this program could be used to further the push for county regulation and gun control bills. We don't need any politician telling us how to be safe with our firearms. I would much rather see a firearm safety education program from individuals WITHIN the firearms community, people that actually know what they're doing.

Some of the people involved in the unveiling conference were a Sheriff, as well as a deputy that has some sort of departmental training experience. All I will say is this, they were all incredibly UNSAFE in their handling of the firearms on display, and certainly not people I would want to be working with a program like that. This supposed trainer was pointing the gun around the room like it was nothing, pointed it at himself quite a bit, and even pointed it at HIMSELF and pulled the trigger to show that it's physically impossible for the gun to be loaded and/or fire with the gun lock in place. I don't care how safe it may be, building such a habit is just plain wrong and dangerous.

Right now, I actually do enjoy driving to Lockhart to go to that range. They are friendly there, they don't hassle you with lots of unnecessary rules, their prices are more than fair and cheaper than anywhere else, etc etc. ;)
 

Shorts

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HK_Fiend, I see what you're saying and I agree. The program would be better in a citizen's hands than under political control. I think an enthusiastic citizen instructor, who truly serves the purpose to teach others is best, rather than an outsider with less vested interest in teaching and more for controlling.
 

SIG_Fiend

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I'm all for the education and personal responsibility part of it. My only concern is that, when politics are involved, it doesn't matter what the subject matter is, it can very easily be abused. That plus politicians generally seem to have ulterior motives, and if they don't currently then they will eventually. I would only want people involved in a firearm safety program IF they were gun owners, and if they were experienced with firearms. It's funny to think that people that don't own guns and aren't experienced with them can actually educate other people about them. ;) Oh well, it is what it is.
 

SIG_Fiend

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Let me know when the next meeting on this is.

Honestly, I haven't heard anything and don't really know what the deal is with it? I mean, these people put this effort in to starting this "program", however I still haven't quite figured out what all of that entails. I have not heard anything about meetings or plans for this program. You would think, with something like this, that they would be working at meeting with other groups, firearms owner's groups, shooting ranges, etc. While it may be a bit premature, the silence has me wondering if maybe there were some ulterior motives involved in creating this "program" (whatever it is). Up to today, the only thing I've seen was those involved handing out some fliers and free gun locks at the Cabelas "unveiling" I attended, I believe on Aug. 31st. Anyways, I'm keeping my eyes out for anything negative that may come from this. Hopefully nothing does.
 

tallmike

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Oct 21, 2008
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Shoot Safe

It offers some good advice and even offers links to 4H, NRA, and local gun ranges.

Come on folks, instead of being afraid of the programs goals or those who would get involved in it why not contact your county commissioner and volunteer your time to help with it? It looks like a decent program that is pushing for safety, not legal restrictions. In fact it was put in place because the commissioners (not all of them, but the majority) decided that legal restrictions were not the best way to proceed.

The more successful this program is the less likely we are to see legal restrictions in the near future. If we have another idiot shooting a .22 in his backyard and another kid down the road playing is killed does anyone here believe we wont have laws put in place a few days later that stop all shooting within the county?

For those who havent followed much of what brought this program about, let me give some of the facts.

Last April a guy was shooting a .22 in his backyard here in Kyle (not a huge backyard, I think it was about a 1/4 acre lot) while down the road from him a 7 y/o kid was jumping on a trampoline. Sure enough, one of those rounds traveled across the property lines (the current law restricts shooting across property lines) and killed the kid.

After that Jeff Barton tried (and failed) to pass a law to stop people from shooting on lots less than 2 acres.

When that failed to pass the commissioners agreed to implement a program to teach gun safety. The idiot shooter said he didnt realize his rounds were traveling that far so that is where the idea came from.

Are any of us really against gun safety training? What better way to get new people involved in the sport than by teaching them how safe it can be? It helps take the fear out of guns and that is usually what causes people to dislike them.
 

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