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Reitan: Be responsible with firearms

Assistant Chief Mike Reitan

The unintentional discharge of firearms has been highlighted in the news in recent weeks. A number of the incidents resulted in injury, while other incidents sent bullets flying into adjoining properties. These incidents highlight the importance of following basic, safe firearm handling rules.

Safe-handling firearms rules are readily available from a number of sources, including a written copy with all new firearm purchases and ammunition containers. A person who possesses a firearm is responsible to ensure they follow these basic safe-handling firearms rules and know the specific handling instructions for the particular firearm.

Hunters receive a large amount of firearms safety instructions when completing the certified hunter's safety course, and much of the information is valuable to anyone with a firearm. A great part of this training is the learning aid "A CHUM SPORT." Each letter represents a core word in 10 firearm safety rules. For example, "A" is for alcohol (avoid the use of alcohol, prescription and over-the- counter medication when handling firearms) and "R" is for respect (always treat a firearm with the respect owed to a loaded firearm). This acronym is an effective tool for preventing unintended firearm incidents and can be viewed in its entirety on the North Dakota Hunter's education website (

Additionally, it is important to remember that the intentional or unintentional discharge of a firearm in the city of West Fargo is illegal (West Fargo Ordinance 12-0306). At a minimum, the charge would be a class B misdemeanor. If another person is endangered, injured or killed as the result of the discharge of the firearm, the person handling the firearm could be charged with a felony offense. More information about this ordinance can be found at

The improper handling and storage of a firearm can lead to a tragedy. A person handling a firearm must remain clear minded and not become too casual about firearms handling. Always be responsible with firearms.