In a bittersweet ceremony, the family and friends of Brandon Bindon released white balloons in memory of the teen accidentally shot and killed Tuesday in Baton Rouge.

His mother held 14 balloons — one for every year of his life.

The tragedy of the accident that claimed his life is not unusual, unfortunately. Despite all the attention paid to the homicidal attacks that fill the crime columns of this newspaper and many others across the nation, accidents with firearms are a scourge that claims more lives.

All too often, the circumstances are like those that claimed Brandon: teen boys playing with a revolver found in their car.

The consequences include criminal charges against Brandon’s best friend, only 16. The family of the victim has asked for leniency in his case.

This Baton Rouge tragedy should be a lesson for anyone who owns a firearm. The responsibility of gun ownership includes not only operating it safely while hunting or shooting for recreation. It also means keeping weapons locked up and safely away from children and teens.

From private groups such as the National Rifle Association to police and sheriffs, classes in gun safety are widely available. If the lessons are followed, loaded weapons won’t become deadly playthings.