There are four rules for firearm safety, and pretty much any responsible shooter knows them by heart. I’ll be honest, some get them out of order, but they know them all. To me, that matters more than which is “Rule Two” and which is “Rule Four.”

However, they’re all very important.

An example in Kentucky illustrates why Rule Four is just so important.

Madison County EMS and sheriff’s deputies responded to an accidental shooting Tuesday evening that sent one to the University of Kentucky Trauma Center.

According to Madison County Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Stotts, the accidental shooting occurred after a dog bit a person in the 100 block of Long Hollow Road in Berea. A separate individual shot the canine, and the bullet passed through the animal, striking a third person.

No charges have been filed but the event is still under investigation.

Now, I’m not going to get into whether or not this shoot should have taken place. I wasn’t there, and I don’t know what all the variables are. It’s entirely possible that the shooter believed someone was going to lose their life if he didn’t shoot and figured the risk was worth it under the circumstances. He may well have been right in that, even. That’s why I’m not going to judge him, especially since it’s possible the shooting was the result of a ricochet or some other kind of accident.

But what I will do is use this as a reminder. Bullets aren’t magic. They won’t stop the moment they hit your target. Most of us know this, but even so, I see examples of people not being particularly careful about what’s beyond their target at all times.

Now, in a life or death situation, I get it. You deal with the devil you know, and if that’s some guy with a gun threatening to kill you or your family, you’re probably going to act and not worry so much about whether there’s anyone down the street beyond the bad guy with a gun. When we’re all sitting here, safe and sound, we can tell you to do so, but in practice? It’s easier said than done.

However, it’s also important to remember that you’re responsible for every bullet you fire.

Will this individual be charged? I don’t know. I hope not since it was an accident, but he might be. I’m sure there are a lot of factors at play that we won’t get from a short article with little in the way of details.

For you, though, this is a reminder that if you fire, try and make sure what’s beyond your target is clear. The last thing anyone wants is to hit an innocent bystander. It’s awesome if one shot takes down two bad guys, but not if it hits the bad guy and some poor individual who just happened to be at the wrong place, wrong time.

I’d love to give you specifics on just how to do that, but all I can say is train hard and try and train under stress so you can make cool, calm decisions in such a situation.