A story of a local trial this week highlights how important — and how simple — basic gun safety is.

A woman, 22-year-old Gregoria Elizabeth Baez, is charged with second-degree murder for the fatal shooting of her boyfriend, Felix Florez, about a year ago. She says she fired the gun accidentally while they were both playing around with their handguns — sort of pretending to be angry and pointing the weapons at each other. The jury was deliberating at press time Thursday.

Whatever the outcome of the trial, no one is arguing that Ms. Baez isn’t responsible for Mr. Florez’s death. And to a certain extent, he is, too.

These were adults, not children, aiming their firearms at one another. Even someone with little knowledge must realize that guns are deadly weapons. (And we know that Mr. Florez, who worked as a corrections officer, had more than basic gun knowledge.)

The first rule of gun safety is that you treat each one as though it’s loaded and ready to fire. That means you never, ever point it at someone. Heeding that rule alone would have saved Ms. Baez from the tragedy that followed. On top of that, playing with a real gun as though it’s a toy is just downright stupid.

Of course there’s more to gun safety than that. In our view, those who choose to own guns should keep them unloaded and locked away (ideally with the gun kept separate from the ammunition) until they intend to use them.

We won’t get into any Second Amendment arguments here; that’s not the point of this column. But many people who own guns, whether for recreation or some other purpose, do so with responsibility and an understanding of the high stakes involved. This case highlights how important that is. And it’s a sobering reminder of what happens when people don’t use extreme caution in handling weapons.

Firearm owners should educate themselves, whether through a class or some other method, on safety and how to use their particular gun. Doing so could be a matter of life or death.

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