We don’t know who is buying all these guns: Is it people adding to already large collections or are lot of these folks new gun owners? I suspect the increase is broad based, newer people are being introduced to guns and gun owners are stocking up. One thing that isn’t clear is how safely these new guns will handled. I remember as teenager taking a Hunter Safety Class. Damn there were a lot of rules. Rules that don’t get remembered will be broken. There is a simpler set of 4 rules — These are rules that even I can remember.
Even if this is so second nature that you can recite it in your sleep, please read this, read it all the way to the bottom, read it again, then save it to read down the road. Read it back to me, to all your friends and to yourself, and especially to anyone you teach to shoot. Make them recite it till it’s burned into their memories and yours, then recite it again…and again, and again.
Never let us or yourself slip, no matter how long we’ve been shooting. Humans make mistakes, and if we keep an eye out for each other, we can learn from them and live to pass that knowledge on to others. Yes I’m going to YELL. If you see anyone being unsafe, YELL it back to them/me/us!
As a kid, I remember my dad teaching me gun safety. It seemed that there were 1000 rules. Asking “what’s rule 39, paragraph 2, subsection B?” was nothing but confusing. There’s no need for a zillion rules if 4 are ALWAYS followed. I repeat and stress ALWAYS.
1: Humans make mistakes.
All guns are ALWAYS LOADED! If someone unloads a gun and hands it to you, they have just handed you a LOADED GUN until you personally prove that it is empty by checking the chamber. If you are handling a gun that you know is “unloaded”, it is LOADED until you check it again. Each and every time, no exceptions, no excuses!
There are too many people shot every year with “unloaded” guns. It happens when cleaning an “unloaded gun” (I lost a cousin to that), it happens when someone points an UNLOADED GUN (yes I do mean to shout..please hear me out) at someone or themselves, it even happens at gun stores (more on that later).
2. Humans make mistakes.
Never point the muzzle at anything you do not intend to destroy! Guns are safe, and guns protect lives. They do that by DESTROYING what they are discharged at. They are also indescriminate and will destroy anything or anyone they are discharged at, even by accident. WE are their brains. Do not point a gun at anything you do NOT intend to DESTROY…DESTROY! There’s no such thing as a safe gun, only a safe shooter. Please be one.
3. Humans make mistakes.
NEVER put your finger on the trigger unless you are ready to shoot. If your sights are not on the target, there’s no reason for your finger on the trigger, right? So DO NOT PUT IT THERE!
Modern guns in good repair will not fire on their own. They don’t get in a bad mood and go off because they feel like it. They go off because someone pulled the trigger. If your finger isn’t on the trigger, the gun will not go off. Don’t put your finger there EVER unless you are ready to fire the shot at that moment. Otherwise, keep that sucker pointed out straight.
4. Humans make mistakes.
Always know where your bullet will go. You can shoot at a target, but the bullet can carry on and kill someone down range unless you know for a fact where that bullet will stop. DO NOT fire unless you know the bullet will stop harmlessly in a backstop and not carry on to injure someone down range.
If you don’t get that deer this year because of an unsafe shot that you didn’t take, well the hunter’s life you might have saved has a family who is grateful. If you’re target shooting, please make sure you have a safe backstop that you know will stop your bullets.
I’m fanatical about checking and double checking my guns before I bring them home, to make sure they are unloaded. I remember a trip to the range some years back, where I was having trouble with double action shots. When I got home I decided to do some double action dry firing, which is a great way to practice.
Knowing that I ALWAYS, I mean ALWAYS, check and double check my firearms to make sure they are unloaded before packing them up, I settled my sights on a spot on the wall with the fridge on the other side to satisfy rule #2. I was about to squeeze the trigger when I chastised myself for being so lazy and not checking the chamber, and racked the slide to satisfy rule #1. Out popped a round! A ROUND! Out of an “unloaded gun.” Somehow, that gun had gotten overlooked, and even though the magazine was empty, the chamber was not. A moments laziness… Don’t be lazy! Takes only a second to check, but a lifetime of regret if you don’t…’nuff said.
A few years back, one of the local gunshops had an unforgivable accident. This is a decades old shop, with people who probably deal with more guns in a week than I’ve ever handled in my lifetime. Apparently a cop brought in his duty weapon for some type of repair, and the employee, in violation of several of the rules above, SHOT THE COP WITH HIS OWN GUN!
Luckily, the man survived, but there’s just NO excuse for their unsafe gun handling, or mine for that matter. Now I’m a forgiving fellow, but I have not done business with them since. That’s unforgivable, period.
The fact is, we’re human. Humans make mistakes. Our mistake can cost someone else their life. That’s a lot of the reason we’re having to fight to keep our Second Amendment Rights. If we follow safe guidelines, the chances of our mistakes hurting someone is greatly reduced. See above; humans make mistakes! Please teach this to anyone who wants to enter the sport, and please keep an eye on yourself, me, and everyone else who enjoys it so that we can continue to do to.
One of the most satisfying things I can remember, happened last summer. I was teaching a single mother and her 11 year old son to shoot. They had never handled firearms before and I went into “safety nazi” mode and drilled the above over and over, especially the part about keeping your eye on other shooters.
I had finished a string with the .22 pistol I was teaching them with, and kept my finger on the trigger after the gun ran dry, to see if either noticed (most don’t). I wasn’t finished for more than a couple seconds, and the mother hadn’t noticed, when the young son pointed out rather LOUDLY that I still had my finger on the trigger. I was very proud, and so was the mother when I smiled at him broadly with a “well done!”.
Sorry for the long rant and I know I’m preaching to the choir, but it’s something that many of us take too lightly. It has nothing to do with experience, as shown by my own mistake and the gun shop’s, and those that we’ve all seen from others. Please always keep this at the very front of your thoughts when you shoot and especially when you teach others to shoot.
If any of you ever shoot with me, just know that I’m watching you! lol. I hope you’re watching me just as closely, because humans make mistakes.