This summer, I’ve accomplished a variety of things. I’ve been swimming, running, tree-climbing, board-game-playing, and too many other happily carefree activities to list. Apart from all of those activities, however, shooting holds a special place in my heart.
Hardly a day goes by that I’m not occupied in the backyard, honing my marksmanship with a BB gun. I’m here to tell you firsthand, no other pursuit could be dearer to any little boy’s heart.
Nevertheless, as any little boy’s mother will tell you, guns are dangerous. You could shoot your eye out. My father was the one who first introduced the four weapon safety rules. Three out of four of my siblings are boys, and four out of four of us can recite the rules by heart. Even my youngest brother, “Baby Cowboy,” knows his target and what’s beyond it when he wields his orange-capped toy pistol. While most of the safety rules may be intuitive, they’re a constant reminder to keep your guard up while handling a firearm.
Weapons safety doesn’t just apply to guns, either. Knife throwing, blow darts (my grandfather’s proficiency in this field remains, so far, unsurpassed), and other tools that can be utilized as a means of defense or offense require vigilance. The consistent application of precautions can make the difference between life and death.
In today’s day and age, guns are taboo in certain circles. But, in the right context, they’re also recreational and useful. With the proper caution and respect for the power weapons command, shooting can be a valuable hobby. But before you fire a shot or hurl a tomahawk into a target, here are the four weapon safety rules:
Know your target and what’s beyond it.
Always maintain proper muzzle control.
Keep your finger off the trigger until you’re on target and ready to shoot.
Treat all weapons as if they’re loaded.
Before you go throwing hot lead downrange, keep those rules foremost in your mind, just as my dad taught me. Those rules, combined with a healthy respect for what you’re holding, make or break your conduct with a firearm.
Last spring wasn’t the paradise of the present. Stuck inside with the internet, there was a dearth of time and space for shooting or any other of those formerly stated outdoor activities dear to a child’s joy. I’m not usually prone to screens. I don’t play video games, and in my house, TV airs exclusively on a Friday night. As for social media, I’m a total stranger.
House rules for the internet were conservative as well. It had to be used in clear visibility, on an approved website, with no straying allowed. I would never have been alone, in my room, with the internet, if classes hadn’t moved online.
But, amid loud little brothers, suddenly out of school, it was deemed necessary for peace, quiet, and studiousness that I excuse myself to a private location to attend online classes. Online classes, however, can be dull, to put it mildly. And an idle mind on the internet is a recipe for disaster.
Superficially, it wasn’t the gravest of errors—I strayed off task, and out of class, onto a random internet link. It was only a simple advertisement for a math website, leading to cheesy math-related games—but it was against house rules. And I respected those rules. Yet, I was surprised to find how susceptible I could be when a flashy gimmick was presented.
We all know that cyber warfare exists. Nations have weaponized the internet before. And on a microcosmic level, dangers are all the more present. Cyberbullying, child predators, and general brain rot swarm the internet like mosquitoes, transmitting irritation, sickness, and even death where they touch.
Logically, I knew that temptation was there, but I hadn’t fully appreciated that I was susceptible. Now, don’t get me wrong, it isn’t that I don’t see the numerous positive uses of the internet, too. Like any new weapons technology, it has remarkable aspects. One day, I was shown by a friend the miraculous consumption of three Cokes in one moment. How but through the internet could I have otherwise witnessed such an impressive feat? But through this new technology, I’ve also realized, one faces a greater threat than through most traditional weapons, because the chance of harm is more than physical.
Well, after I cut class, my straying from cyber school was discovered. Mom and dad were swift to act. This time, it was my mother who presented us with a new set of safety rules—recycled and adapted to fit the modern dangers of the cyber world. Her repurposed rules “Internet Safety Rules” are as follows:
Know your target and don’t go beyond it.
Always practice proper screen control.
Keep your eyes off screens until you have a safe, acceptable, and approved plan.
Treat all websites as if they’re loaded.
Since the dawning of the new rules, I handle a screen with as much care as a loaded rifle, applying the four internet and screen safety rules with a consciousness of real and present danger, the same as for any other deadly weapon.
I hear classmates and friends talk of their hours lavished on social media, and I wish that I could caution them as I’ve been cautioned, to keep them from harm. When unmitigated screen usage is so much a part of our day-to-day lives, how long can it be until one is hit by a poison dart?
Without serious self-discipline, unregulated screen exposure poses serious danger.
We use the internet every day. Most of us probably never consider the full extent of the menace that lurks underneath its harmless or even beneficial façcade. An ad can appear completely unremarkable at first glance. Once given attention, however, it may lead to a trap.
Would you rest your finger on the trigger of a loaded pistol, off its aim? Eventually, that pistol is going to go off. And, equally inevitably, one of those countless everyday links will trigger a landmine.
The internet has been weaponized. Good luck denying that. The likelihood of danger grows nearly omnipresent, the more carelessly we handle it. Like a gun, the internet can be utilized for good or for evil. And still, for of all its flaws, it has its purpose.
In the end, no mom or dad will be able to keep you safe from yourself. It’s up to you how to use it: Will you employ safety measures and the right judgment in your online conduct? Or will you wind up toying with a threat beyond your control?