The Way I See It, the southern end continues to lie beneath a dark cloud. It matters not how many positive accomplishments our youth achieve. A twist of evil fate erases the joy of success and pride. A 17-year-old junior places a loaded handgun beneath his chin, asks a question, receives an incorrect answer and pulls the trigger. The visual impression left upon three witnesses who were there when this unfortunate episode occurred will never vanish from their minds. It's a cruel reality of life. What happened in Quarryville the morning of Friday, March 10, should never repeat itself. However, this is not the time to cast blame. This is a time to console and prevent this from ever happening again.

In my mind, this tragedy was preventable. There are several lessons parents and guardians must learn from this unfortunate event. I'm not advocating every household rid themselves of handguns. Nor am I suggesting every household should own one. If you choose to own a handgun lock it up. Several years ago the Quarryville Borough police were offering gunlocks to the public. I urge families to make the purchase if you weren't fortunate enough to secure one from Chief Work. When your child is responsible show them the proper way to handle the firearm and from the time your child is old enough to understand explain to them that guns are not toys.

Guns must be treated with respect and always assumed to be loaded. From the time I was old enough to remember my parents insisted I not point an unloaded weapon at a person, which I never did. That said you can never be too cautious. As the victim of a self-inflicted firearm accident, I can tell you that you must be aware at all times that the firearm in your hands can be lethal. Fortunately, my hunting accident wasn't life threatening and I was accompanied by a friend who knew what to do.

I am convinced that if someone would have simply instructed the parties involved to activate the slide after removing the clip, the mourning of a child and friend could have been avoided.

The Southern Lancaster County Farmers-Sportsmen Association is conducting a hunter-SAFETY course in April. I'm not promoting hunting, although I contend that most families that do hunt will never experience an episode of this type. You don't have to encourage your offspring to take up hunting, but by attending you will expose your child on the proper care and handling of firearms. It will be a valuable lesson learned. The shooting sports are one of the most enjoyable pastimes and involve some of the most personable individuals existing. Our deepest sympathies to the those who suffered loss and our prayers go up that no southern end family has to experience this type of occurrence ever.

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