Rachel Yoder, age 15, was driving her buggy home from a Christmas party last Thursday night when she was killed. According to Holmes County Sheriff Timothy Zimmerly, an Amish hunter “was preparing to clean his muzzle-loaded rifle after deer hunting and fired it into the air.”

This provides a teachable moment, in hopes of saving one life tomorrow. Or two, considering the shooter’s life will never be the same.

Media does a public disservice when they procreate the myth that guns go off by “accident.” A number of simple and easy safe handling rules must be intentionally violated for the above story to happen.

First: Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction. Pointing any gun in the air is always unsafe. Bullets can easily travel over one mile, maintaining enough energy to be fatal.

Second: Always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot. That includes anything that could depress the trigger: screw drivers, cleaning rods, etc.

Third: Always keep the gun unloaded until ready to use. A corollary is: Every gun is loaded until verified unloaded. When cleaning a gun, double-check before proceeding.

Know your firearm, how it operates, and how to field strip and clean it.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the more experienced you are, the greater the temptation to consider yourself smart and experienced enough to create your own rules. Pride goeth before the fall. (Of course, there’s still the ignorant who think they know what they’re doing. Observing how they handle a gun gives them away.)

We still need to pull our pants down before going potty, no matter how many thousands of times we did this before. Simple attention to never-changing basics keeps one from making a mess of things.