Eddie Eagle’s message was delivered to Isaac Hunter Rathner—a 14-year-old high school freshman—multiple times from the age of 4 to 7. His gun-owning parents supplemented that education with constant reminders after he got behind his first trigger, in this case, that of a .22 LR Henry Mini Bolt when he was six. Those lessons continue to this day, despite the fact he’s experienced enough to shoot his father’s suppressed pistol (as seen in the above photo).
A few weeks ago, Isaac and a pair of his friends (ages 12 and 14) were walking together. When one of his buddies spotted the gun several feet from a paved road in a residential area of Tucson, Ariz., he picked it up by two fingers, realized it was real and dropped it immediately.
The polymer handgun was badly weathered and damaged, although fully functional. The owner, who had reported it missing, told authorities the unholstered firearm apparently fell out of his backpack while riding his motorcycle.
It was loaded with a chambered cartridge. “We gotta call my dad,” was Isaac’s immediate response. His friends have not received Eddie Eagle training to his knowledge, although he loyally speculates, “Since he dropped it, he probably wouldn’t have picked it up again.”
Todd Rather, Isaac’s father who has been an NRA Board Member since 1999, responded to his son’s call, secured the handgun and immediately contacted law enforcement. Unfortunately, “The cop was pretty unimpressed to be honest,” Todd (who’s also an NRA Instructor) said. “I believe Isaac had it in his head to not touch the gun and call an adult…If another kid found it, the results could have been a disaster.”
Tara Rathner, Isaac’s mother, wasn’t on hand for the incident, but calls it “worrisome.” To complicate matters, the gun was nowhere near the route the owner claimed to have taken when it disappeared.
“Get your kids professional, age-appropriate training from an NRA Certified Instructor ASAP,” Todd said. “And repeat it, if possible.” He cited Eddie Eagle and NRA Basic pistol as good selections and recommends readers visit the NRA Education and Training page to find a nearby course. “The anti-gunner’s concept of burying their head in the sand regarding guns is deadly. I am glad we chose to educate our boys.”