Accidents can happen to anyone. An accident is an unplanned event with negative consequences. They can also be described as anything from a mishap to a calamity. Some accidents are not avoidable to the injured party; but most times accidents are preventable by the one causing it. Many accidents are caused by lack of education, judgment and/or experience.
While Atlanta has emerged as a thriving metropolis, a lot of Georgia is still rural; and hunting for both food and enjoyment is as old as the state. Many young boys enjoy the great outdoors and there is just something inside some of them that loves hunting. If you have a penchant for that activity; it can, I am told, be a great bonding time with father and son; as can fishing or working on an old bicycle together. But anytime a gun or any type of weapon is involved – there is great need for training and education.
But one might question Mr. Oxendine’s response to the press in regard to a shooting accident that happened this past weekend where his fourteen year old son accidentally “peppered” another person with birdshot that apparently sent him to the hospital. It is not known how much this young man had been taught or if he had taken a gun safety course. But the principle here is should Mr. Oxendine have taken a different attitude about the accident?
Mr. Oxendine, as is one of the front runners for the seat of Governor for the State of Georgia, and the current Insurance Commissioner, you would have thought he would have taken a somewhat different stance on the event.
It appeared that he just shrugged it off as nothing important by saying, “People being peppered from time to time, does happen,” explaining that shotgun accidents aren’t that uncommon. He went on to say, “I’m not talking about people being shot with rifles and serious injuries. I’m talking about people getting peppered. And that is not uncommon,” he said. Is he in fact saying, “What becomes common, becomes acceptable?”
It seems that while on a hunting trip in Walker County on a preserve owned by a private individual – who was reported as being a wealthy campaign contributor – there was a hunting accident involving Oxendine’s fourteen year old son when he fired a load of birdshot into a man’s leg while attempting to shoot birds.
Fifty-nine year old Russell Robertson was injured on his right leg. Apparently, Robertson was not actually hunting; but was an observer. One could only ask, however, had it been a more powerful shot or directed at a more vulnerable place – say in the face or head – it might not seem so common. Thank all the lucky stars; that Mr. Robertson was not more seriously wounded.
While we are not privy to the apologies or explanations given to the victim or instructions given to the young man, it would seem that Mr. Oxendine missed a great opportunity to speak publicly to other youth – or hunters in general – about the seriousness of gun safety and training. He kinda passed it off as a hazard of the game not unlike getting hurt playing football. He said he, himself, had been “peppered” as well.
He did not seem to give credence to the situation in light of the fact it could have been much worse. In his statement, he did not seem to be apologetic or sympatric toward Mr. Robertson; but merely passed it off as “no big deal.”
The Oxendine’s also were reported as having no hunting licenses which were apparently not required when hunting on a licensed preserve. But it would seem to this writer that if you are going to take a minor into the woods with a shotgun, he should be licensed; and properly trained even if it is not required on private property. However, there are stringent rules for minors hunting which can be found at the link below. While apparently no hunting rules were violated by the Oxendine’s, there seemed to be a lack of concern to the seriousness of such an accident.
Kids and guns today are no laughing matter and the seriousness of any mishap with a weapon should indicate a more serious response. Mr. Oxendine did not hesitate to equate this to his running for governor in that he said, “I am a father like anybody else. I think people want a Governor who has the same experiences as other people,” he said. This is probably one experience Mr. Robertson could have done without.
When something like this happens, parents and especially those in the public should be the first to indicate this is a serious matter; and not one to be merely written off as being common. This is a great teaching moment; but preventing accidents by teaching up front is preferred to the consequences at the end.
Woman to Woman:
This is not an indictment or shadow casting on Mr. Oxendine and his bid for governor; but merely an opportunity to encourage parents to teach their children clearly what they should know; whether it is hunting, riding a bicycle, driving a car or even cleaning up their room. And just as important as teaching them the right way to do things, there is the need to teach them there are consequences for actions and taking responsibility for those actions will help to build character and strong morals in their child. We can only hope that in private, Mr. Oxendine did in fact explain this to his son. You can find more information about Mr. Oxendine on his web site at
Parents are the shelter, the buffer from the world, the responsible ones in the lives of young people; and what they do or say can have a lifetime of influence and/or consequences in their children’s lives. While it is evident this young man did not do this intentionally; perhaps his father’s reaction should have been one of more concern for the victim; and thankful it was not worse. Should he not have taken the opportunity to teach not only his son – but the sons of Georgia – that guns are in fact not a toy; and any mishap is to be considered serious.
Based on his statements to WXIA 11 Alive news, it is not clear if he and his son accepted responsibility for their actions no matter how minor or serious it was or was not. It cannot be emphasized enough that all guns should be stored unloaded, trigger locked, and kept out of reach of children at all times. When a child becomes confident in handling a gun, they are more likely to want to handle them.
They see so much shooting on TV and in the movies where the actor is shot and killed in one film only to emerge alive in another. In years past, young boys played cowboy and Indians and made a bang, bang sound with their voice; but today they play violent and action packed video games that can actually give them the sense of firing a weapon; and with all the graphics it can only serve to desensitize them to the reality and consequences of violence.
Most young children do not have the concept of how dangerous a firearm really is and it is up to everyone, parents or not, to practice gun safety, teach it to those who hunt, and not play down any misuse of a weapon. We must all teach our children that with choices come responsibilities and consequences; and that all guns are dangerous.
More information about hunting in Georgia can be found at http://www.georgiawildlife.com/ and
http://www.georgiawildlife.com/node/659?cat=hunting There are many links here regarding hunting along with an online hunting education course.