Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The rules.

Every so often somebody comes up with another set of firearms safety rules: Once upon a time, there were Ten Safety Commandments for hunters, while the Army had fourteen; there are the Four Rules from Gunsite; the NRA is currently touting Three Rules; now Alan likes a focus on Two Rules.

It's not particularly iconoclastic. It's been done before and will doubtless be done again.

May I propose a Rule Zero? How about let's go with "Don't Be An Idiot." I don't know which rules are in your head, and how many of them there are, but as long as your actions are safe, it doesn't really matter to me.

EDIT: As Earl pointed out in comments, my proposed Rule Zero only works with robots. Alternatively, I offer my own personal Rule Zero, which is "Assume You're An Idiot." I always act on the assumption that I could suffer from a sudden attack of The Stupids at any moment, and handle firearms accordingly, so that the result of such an attack will be embarrassment rather than tragedy.


Anonymous said...

Grant Cunningham had a decent take on the 4 rules. Not sure I agree, but don't disagree either.

wv - "menchild" - yep, they got guns too.

Who makes these wvs up anyway? LOL...

Al T.

Earl said...

Rule zero - only works for robots.

Tam said...


You're right. I should probably have phrased it "Assume You're An Idiot", because that's my personal Rule Zero. I assume that I could have a fit of the stupids at any moment, and handle the gun accordingly.

John Stephens said...

The Rules, whatever and however many you may prefer, are training tools. "Don't be an idiot" is the desired state that the training is intended to produce.

Stranger said...

John is about as close to correct as human nature will allow. And whether or not a child is raised in a "gun family," gun safety should be drilled into children from the age of comprehension. That varies with the child, but it typically begins around four years of age.

Habits started that young are very hard to break. But it is never too late to start working on new ones.


DaddyBear said...

School of Cool Rule # 1 - Don't be frakking stupid. Been living by that one since 1989 when it was explained to me by an old soldier.

aczarnowski said...

I always thought Moses the bureaucrat for expanding "Do unto others as you'd have them do unto you" into 10 sub sections.

Yeah yeah, I know. It was the bush's fault.

Tam said...


I LOL'ed. :)

Anonymous said...

The problem with Rule 0 is that many do not know that they are being idiots. Rule 0 is too subjective as one who has 1,000 hours of gun skul will think far differently than Jasper or Cledus at the gun show.

Simply think back to your experience with cold ranges at Eagle Creek or Atterbury and being told to "load/unload in the parking lot."

Many people are completely unaware that firearms can discharge without triggers being pulled. If you are unaware of that fact then it will impact your perception of "idiot".

I was born with the Cooper/Smith Four Rules and we are just Four Rules people. They are objective standards that we can all achieve. Too much slop in "idiot".

My $.02,

Shootin' Buddy

pax said...

Hah! SB, while you were posting here, I said much the same at RX's place. Great minds and all that ...?

Caleb said...

I have always, despite thinking of them as guidelines, thought the 4 rules were elegantly constructed, especially when you know about Jeff Cooper's exception to Rule 1, the gun in your hands. Personally, I feel like the "backstop" rule gets ignored a lot, because so many of us, myself included, are used to shooting on ranges with large, happy berms that soak up bullets so there's no concern beyond "muzzle safety".

Anonymous said...

"The problem with Rule 0 is that many do not know that they are being idiots."

Agreed. Between the NRA's insistence that we not refer to guns as "weapons" and the complacency borne of countless casual accident-free days at the range, the typical gun owner is as oblivious to the dangers of one moment's inattention with a gun as he is of a moment's inattention behind the wheel of a car.

All of the rules are important, but some prevent loud noises whereas others prevent damage and death.

Anonymous said...

Rule zero - only works for robots.

Robots are only as smart as the idiot who programed it.


Anonymous said...

Everyone wants to be the smartest kid in the room, but the Four Rules were not born in a library or a blog. They were created by men with considerable combat, firearms instruction experience and who worked around firearms every single day (Cooper at API, Smith at the FTU of ACSD and API).

If you think you are smarter than everyone else (a graybeard or whatever), you want to fiddle with them. If you understand that in order to learn you must "empty your tea cup", then you can understand why the Four Rules exist and how important they all are.

Shootin' Buddy

Anonymous said...

Aside from trigger discipline,my big one is "Know the status of your weapon at all times", which should have taken the place of "All guns are always loaded", which IMO is only slightly better than "That's not a toy!"

I grew up with guns in the house that were left where I could have fun with them, but nobody to formally take me shooting or teach me "the rules". Even knowing trigger discipline and where to point the muzzle, I have made some less than intelligent moves over the years...but checking the chamber often has thus far saved me from doing anything really really dumb.

Tam said...

"If you think you are smarter than everyone else (a graybeard or whatever), you want to fiddle with them. If you understand that in order to learn you must "empty your tea cup", then you can understand why the Four Rules exist and how important they all are."


I'm a 'Murrican! I'm smart enough to have my own website! My opinion's as good as anyone else's!

Anonymous said...

Tam ~

That reminds me: don't you owe me an email?


David Liddy said...

Rule Zero for my kids is "DOn't touch a gun unless Dad or Mom says it's okay."

Then we in grained in them the four rules.

Anonymous said...

"I'm a 'Murrican! I'm smart enough to have my own website! My opinion's as good as anyone else's!"

Just wait until I start to go gray . . . oh, the lording over will be overbearing!

Shootin' Buddy

Mark Alger said...


As much as I hate kowtowing to authority figures (and I *AM* gray), I agree with your take: If you're so smart, why ain't you rich? Or questions of that nature.

On Rule One: A gun is always loaded. Even if you know it is not, treat it as though it were.

I had it drilled into my head when I was a child. There was a touch of wry humor allowed about the disconnect, but the emphasis was always lain on heavily: a gun is ALWAYS loaded.

The reason? To inculcate that into your mindset, so that you always behave as though the weapon COULD kill at ANY moment, regardless of your perception of its state of readiness.

To do otherwise, to borrow the phrase from Tam, is to be an idiot.

If one desires to be clever with the wording, therefor, and disagree with the purpose of the rule, I tend to perceive him to be a DANGEROUS idiot, and will want to watch him extra close -- jumping from Condition Yellow to Condition Orange in his case.


Anonymous said...

I like your amended rule 0.


d said...

Rule Zero is "DON'T PANIC" and applies to more than weapons.

I think the overlap of the 4 rules is a winner, the "two rules" may have less overlap but misses the point of redundancy, and I'm not sure if he understands the difference between "handling" and "holstered"

Hobie said...

I also know that I can do something stupid at any given moment and I have proof. I try to act accordingly. It usually works. The 4 rules? Some people apparently need things spelled out in detail like those who need the "don't use on house roof" caution on snow throwers.

Dr. StrangeGun said...

1 rule.

1 - Minimize risk while getting the desired task done.

Or, 2 rules.

1 - Don't forget yourself
2 - Don't forget the other guy.

Or, 3 rules. *

1 - The guy with the loaded gun doesn't dig.
2 - If you're going to shoot, shoot. Don't talk.
3 - Know your limitations.

*I know, I know. But I needed 3 and there *is* a connection.

Tam said...


"I'm not sure if he understands the difference between "handling" and "holstered""

I think you're right.