Gun safety and proper handling of a firearm became a topic of discussion last month following the death of a Lithia man.

Gun safety and the proper handling of a firearm became a hot topic of discussion last month following the death of a Lithia man, who accidentally shot  himself while handling a gun he thought wasn’t loaded.

According to Hillsborough County Sheriff’s detectives, at approximately 2 a.m. HCSO was notified that a man had been shot at the residence of 10139 Bryant Rd. in Lithia.

When deputies arrived, they found Taylor J. McKenna dead as a result of accidentally shooting himself in the head, detectives said.

Unfortunately, this type of incident is common. It is estimated that, in the U.S., more than 500 children die annually from accidental shootings.

The FBI recently estimated that there are more than 200 million privately-owned firearms in the U.S. By adding those owned by the military, law enforcement agencies and museums, there is probably about one gun per person in the country.

The average gun owner has several firearms which includes pistols, shotguns and rifles of all makes and models.

The National Institutes of Health’s Website report emphasized that children younger than 8 can’t tell the difference between a real gun and a toy, 3-year-old children are strong enough to pull the trigger on a real gun and that children and teens commit more than half of all unintentional shootings.

“Know the rules of owning and handling a firearm,” McKinnon said, but added that the most important or the golden rule is to treat every gun as if it were loaded.

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Some things to keep yourself and your family safe:
• Teach children that they shouldn’t touch guns, and that if they see a gun, to leave it alone and tell an adult
• If your children play at another home, talk to the parents about gun safety
• Treat every gun as if it were loaded
• Always store guns unloaded
• Lock guns in a rack or safe, and hide the keys or combination
• Store ammunition away from guns and keep it locked
• Don’t keep guns in your home if someone in your family has a mental illness, severe depression or potential for violence

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