All cannons are always loaded.

Never point the muzzle of your cannon at anything you aren’t willing to destroy.

If 74 year-old firearms instructor Derek Allan Kelly had remembered those basic rules, there’s a chance he might still be with us today.

Unfortunately, Mr. Kelly had quite obviously not cleared his 40mm cannon at the range, and it discharged as he was removing it from his SUV, killing him.

The firearms collector was unloading a cannon from the tray of his ute when it accidentally discharged and fatally struck him at his home in Mahuta, west of Dargaville, yesterday.

Mr Kelly was a volunteer at the Dargaville Museum, involved with the RSA, and a member of many committees.

A fellow member of the Dargaville Pistol Club and the Kaipara Community Centre, Diane Black, said Mr Kelly’s death was “a huge loss” for the community.

“He was a very community-minded person and on many committees,” she said.

“He did an awful lot to help people in the community.”

Kelly was a firearms instructor and collector in New Zealand with a passion for antiques firearms. His wife, unfortunately, seems to have been the one who found him, and she is understandably in shock, as are the many friends he seems to have left behind.

The death of this veteran instructor should remind us that we need to always respect the basic rules of gun safety, no matter how long we’ve been around firearms, and no matter how much knowledge that we may acquire.

Complacency kills, sometimes in the most stunning of ways.