Tragic Loss Of Life Highlight Firearm Safety


By Joey Martin

Twin Falls, Idaho ( KMVT-TV / KTWT-TV ) Firearm safety is taking center stage after a local teen lost his life over the weekend.

On Saturday, 16–year old Ryan J. Willes of Burley died after a shotgun accidentally went off.

According to the Cassia County Sheriff's Office, the incident occurred after an afternoon hunting trip.

After the trip, Willes went to a home in western Cassia County to clean the guns.

And that's where the young man tragically lost his life.

Joey Martin for Idaho’s First News spoke with local firearm experts to find out how tragedies such as this can be avoided.

For many residents in Southern Idaho hunting is a tradition handed down through generations.

A big part of the hunting life is making sure your firearms are properly cleaned and conditioned to ensure a long lifespan.

But, each year incidents like what happened to Ryan Willes sheds light on the dangers associated with it.

While cleaning their guns.

A slip...

A trip...

A simple swipe of a rag can make the firearm go off and a life is tragically lost.

John Wilson with the Twin Fall Police Department says this type of incident is not uncommon in our area.

"We have a lot of people with guns that live here. We have hunters and just gun owners. Chances are it's going to happen once in a while. I don't know if it happens here more frequently than other places where as many people own guns... but wherever you have guns you're going to have these types of events."
Said John Wilson from the Twin Falls Police Department.

Ryan Horsley of Red's Trading Post in Twin Falls explains some of the more common mistakes made when cleaning firearms.

"Properly unload it. A lot of people will expend one shell but make sure that the magazine, if it has a detachable magazine... remove the detachable magazine then make sure that you clear the action. Also make sure that you check the bore as well. That there is nothing in there that you don't have a round stuck ... anything like that."
Said Ryan Horsley General Manager of Red’s Trading Post.

So what is the proper way to clean your firearms and at the same time maintain a level of safety for you or anyone who might be around?

"First thing you want to do when you clean your firearm is always inspect the make sure that it is cleared out completely. No ammunition in the chamber, no ammunition in the magazine.
Physically and visually inspect the chamber, usually sticking a finger in there.
With the firearm on safe... kind of rack the action a couple of times to make sure you clear everything out of that tube.
You can use a bore–snake, runt he bore–snake through the bore, it's just a real simple design. You go from the breach to the muzzle...
Pull the cord all the way through. This will tell you, if that cord doesn't come out all the way, that there is a stoppage in the chamber.
As far as breaking them down to clean them, usually check the owner's manual. Most of them will give you a very detailed way to do that."
Said Red’s Trading Post Sales Associate Matt Van Diest.

Following the proper steps, and staying safe.

If you have any questions when it comes to properly cleaning your firearms.

Representatives from Red’s Trading Post says you can stop by their store and they would be more than happy to walk you through the steps.

Or they will even clean your firearm for a reasonable price.

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