Saturday, May 18, 2013

Gun Safety Rules

By Dave Dargo

There are many sets of rules related to gun safety but there are two that are best known: those promoted by the NRA and those originated with Colonel Jeff Cooper, founder of Gunsite Academy.

Colonel Cooper's rules:
  1. All guns are always loaded
  2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target
  4. Be sure of your target and what is beyond it
The NRA's rules:
  1. ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction
  2. ALWAYS keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot
  3. ALWAYS keep the gun unloaded until ready to use
The rules are similar and must be followed religiously in order to be effective.

Sometimes we hear about accidental discharges.  I share an opinion with many others that there's no such thing as an accidental discharge; an accident implies that no one is at fault.  There are, however, negligent discharges.  If you hear of someone experiencing an accidental discharge with their firearm you can pretty much bet that they violated at least one of the gun safety rules.

I particularly like Colonel Cooper's first rule.  By living by this rule one develops habits that are critical to gun safety.  I never pick up a gun without checking if it's loaded and confirming it is in the state I desire; either loaded or unloaded.  The pistol may have been out of my hands for only a few seconds but when I pick it back up I go through the exact same routine of checking the current load status of the gun.  Before handing my gun to another person I always make sure it's unloaded and even if the recipient witnessed me unloading the gun I fully expect their first move to be to confirm the gun is unloaded.  Someone can assemble a gun in front of me and hand it to me and I will still check to make sure it is unloaded before I do anything with it.

By having the exact same routine each and every time one either picks up or sets down a gun one is more assured of avoiding a negligent discharge.

It's very easy for me to tell when I'm around an experienced gun handler.  While they have more confidence handling a gun than a novice they are also safer because they have solid safety routines they always practice.  I think that many people are intimidated by guns because they know they need to be safe but aren't sure how to proceed.  In all of our classes at Condition Ready we assiduously follow, train and demand adherence to gun safety protocols.  Safety is the responsibility of everyone on the range and we teach our students how to recognize safety protocol violations in others and empower them to return everyone to a safe condition.

Safety is no accident.  By the way, neither is negligence.

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