Tragic hunting incidents important reminder of firearms safety

Police are urging hunters and shooters to make sure that firearms safety is their priority. This has arisen following two tragic hunting incidents within the past week.

Also under Police investigation is a near miss involving a stray bullet striking a caravan at a camp ground near Cromwell earlier this month.

National Manager Response and Operations, Superintendent Chris Scahill says, "These incidents are a tragic reminder of the risks and the potential for things to go very wrong, very quickly, whenever handling firearms, and our thoughts are with the families of those who have lost loved ones,"

"That's why both Police and the Mountain Safety Council are urging everyone going hunting or shooting to take particular care and ensure they follow the firearms safety rules whenever heading into the outdoors.

"And with with the improving weather and longer daylight hours, many others, including trampers, walkers and track workers, are also also out and about, so it's incumbent on all firearms users to ensure the safe and responsible use of any firearm, as the last thing we want is to be dealing with another tragedy.

"This includes following basic but vital safety practices, such as treating every firearm as loaded, pointing firearms in a safe direction, only loading when ready to fire, and identifying your target beyond all doubt.

"We want everyone to continue to enjoy the outdoors this summer without any further incidents," he adds.

The MSC delivers a firearms safety programme nationally, including the firearms safety courses and testing that all applicants are required to attend and pass prior to receiving a firearms licence, in partnership with New Zealand Police.

For more information about firearms safety, including the Firearms Safety Code, tips, advice and resources, visit www.mountainsafety.org.nz.

The Firearms Safety Code: Seven Basic Rules of Firearms Safety

1. TREAT EVERY FIREARM AS LOADED
- Check every firearm yourself.
- Pass or accept only an open or unloaded firearm.

2. ALWAYS POINT FIREARMS IN A SAFE DIRECTION
- Loaded or unloaded, always point the muzzle in a safe direction.

3. LOAD A FIREARM ONLY WHEN READY TO FIRE
- Load the magazine only after you reach your shooting area.
- Load the chamber only when ready to shoot.
- Completely unload before leaving the shooting area.

4. IDENTIFY YOUR TARGET BEYOND ALL DOUBT
- Movement, colour, sound and shape can all deceive you.
- Assume colour, shape, sound, and shape to be human until proven otherwise.

5. CHECK YOUR FIRING ZONE
- THINK! What may happen if you miss your target? What might you hit between you and the target or beyond?
- Do not fire if you know others are in your firing zone.

6. STORE FIREARMS AND AMMUNITION SAFELY
- When not in use, lock away the bolt, firearm and ammunition separately.
- Never leave firearms in a vehicle that is unattended.

7. AVOID ALCOHOL AND DRUGS WHEN HANDLING FIREARMS
- Good judgement is the key to safe use of firearms.