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Smithsburg re-enactors to get safety lesson

July 17, 1998

By GUY FLETCHER

Staff Writer

When Civil War re-enactors participate in mock battles this weekend at Smithsburg Pride Days, they will do so only after hearing a talk on proper firearm safety procedures.

That message will come three weeks after a re-enactor was shot in the neck with live ammunition at a re-enactment of the Battle of Gettysburg.

As a result of that incident, there is a need to take extra precautions, said Dennis Easterday, who is coordinating the approximately 100 re-enactors expected for the Smithsburg event.

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"I'm just going to do it for the fact of what happened at Gettysburg," said Easterday.

Easterday said he will twice brief officers and possibly all of the re-enactors on safety procedures. Re-enactors will be warned not to use live ammunition and not to aim directly at anyone, but to fire weapons at points higher than the targets.

"It's not important to aim at anybody's face," he said.

In addition, officers will inspect each gun, Easterday said.

"It should have been done at Gettysburg, but it wasn't," he said

On July 3 a Charlottesville, Va., man was shot with a gun loaded with live ammunition. Doctors removed a .44-caliber ball from the man's neck. Authorities said the shooting was an accident.

Christian Evo, a Civil War buff from France, pleaded guilty to one count of reckless endangerment. He left the country Wednesday after serving two days in jail and paying $5,000 - part of the $31,855 in fines and fees assessed against Evo by an Adams County, Pa., judge.

Re-enactment rules specifically banned the use of live ammunition. Evo said he did not know the gun he was using was loaded.

Easterday, who has been participating in re-enactments for 10 years, said the Gettysburg shooting was the first time he heard of live ammunition being used in a re-enactment, although occasionally someone accidentally fires a ramrod from a rifle.

He said that with more and more "rookies" getting involved in the hobby, greater emphasis must be placed on safety training.

Easterday said the need for the safety talk was amplified when a local radio host joked on the air that he hoped there would be no live ammunition used at Smithsburg.

The re-enactments will take place on Saturday from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. and on Sunday from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. near Smithsburg High School.

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