By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily
While the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse has captured the attention of the nation over the past few days, there was one particular part of the proceedings that Wyoming author C.J. Box called attention to: the mishandling of the gun by the county attorney in the courtroom.
Box, usually not one to comment on polarizing issues, undoubtedly knew he could safely enter the waters on this one. Who’s going to be anti-gun safety?
It was egregious. When Kenosha County Attorney Thomas Binger held up a rifle to make a demonstration, he wrongly pointed it at the jury and put his finger on the trigger.
That was enough to get Box on Twitter to rant.
“This is not a comment about the Rittenhouse trial, but a prosecutor (or anyone else) should NEVER curl their finger around the trigger of a firearm they believe is unloaded,” Box said.
“Those of us out in the sticks take gun safety seriously. My 7-year-old granddaughter knows better,” he said.
Box wasn’t the only one in disbelief. Wyoming State Rep. Landon Brown, R-Cheyenne, quickly waded into the Twitterverse posting a widely circulated photo of gun-toting Taliban fighters posing in the Afghanistan presidential palace last August.
Of the gun-toters, their fingers were not on the trigger — nor were the guns pointed at anyone.
“Even the Taliban practice safer gun etiquette than you do!” he tweeted to Mr. Binger.
The problem, according to another Wyoming legislator — Rep. Jeremy Haroldson (R-Wheatland) — is the lack of firearms training and where many get their first impressions of guns.
“I think a lot of what’s going on is most peoples’ opinions of firearms have been built from video games,” Haroldson told Cowboy State Daily.
The lawmaker who is also a pastor at Impact Ministries in Wheatland said building the right culture around gun use is critical. So critical that he started a rigorous firearms training course called “Impact Outdoors” which gives people full exposure to gun use.
“A lot of people will use a firearm but will never have an aptitude with it because they’ve never done it enough,” he said. “We teach them a ton about firearms and get them comfortable around them, comfortable operating them, holding them safely, and the overall culture of guns.”
“Remember, guns are tools and they are designed for a specific purpose. When you understand that, they are very safe,” he said. “When you don’t think of them that way, that’s how people get shot.”
And people do get shot.
Nina Webber, a hunter and gun enthusiast who works at GunRunner Auctions in Cody, brought up the recent tragedy in New Mexico where Alec Baldwin, who said he was told a gun was unloaded, shot and killed a member of a film crew.
“Didn’t we just have a tragic event on a movie set recently?” Webber said. “Binger’s lack of safely handling a firearm could have easily caused the death of an innocent person. Isn’t that what just happened on the movie set?”
Nina said the rules of handling a gun are simple.
“Treat every gun like it is gun like it is loaded. It is loaded,” Webber said.
“Never point a firearm unless you are ready to destroy the target. You keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to execute the shot. And you know what’s beyond the backstop. You know what’s beyond the target,” she said.