Monday, June 06, 2016

Safety Is For Always

Everybody with a logo-embroidered polo shirt wants to come up with a replacement for Cooper's Rule One: "All guns are always loaded." It's a target for the ire of everybody with the slightest hint of Aspie tendencies, because they plainly know that there's such a thing as an unloaded gun.

The entire point of Rule One is that when you are handling a firearm, you need to be mindful. You need to be constantly aware of the fact that what you have in your hand is not a banana or a can of soup but an object that can, under the right circumstances, discharge a projectile with lethal consequences.

Chuck Haggard says that one shouldn't have separate habits of handling for "loaded" and "unloaded" guns because when one is tired or distracted, one can inadvertently default to the wrong one. ("How do you dry-fire, Tam?" As though I'm expecting a loud noise at any moment. And I sure don't have that gun pointed at anything I'm not prepared to pay for if I'm wrong about the gun's status.)

That's why stuff like this sends me completely around the bend:

I could have snapped this exact pose, or a variant of it, a thousand times at the NRAAM. Ignoring for a moment the way his finger has migrated right to the trigger the way the swallows return to Capistrano, what in the name of sweet baby Odin is up with the way people pick up a purportedly "unloaded" handgun and immediately plop the muzzle into their offhand paw?

Remember the small-town Indiana police chief who creased his leg with his duty Glock because he holstered it along with the drawstring on his jacket? Go watch this video for a refresher. What's the first thing he did when he got the Glock 42 handed to him by the gun store clerk? He cradled the muzzle in the palm of his left hand. His left hand which he had put a bullet through some years earlier.

Let me reiterate that: He was resting the muzzle of the handgun inches from the bullet scar where he'd previously shot himself. How many times does one have to blow a hole in their hand to unlearn that goofy habit? More than one, apparently.

What you see there with the chief in the video and with the guy in the picture above is bad gun-handling habits at work. This is why, whether I'm handling an actual firearm or a SIRT or a blue gun or an airsoft or whatever, I am very conscious of where the muzzle is pointing and do not point or wave it around casually. I want the default, habitual behavior for when there is a gun-shaped object in my hand to be caution and awareness. I always want the action of aiming a gun at something to be a conscious and deliberate choice.

And I don't ever want to have to utter the words "Oh my God, I'm sorry! I thought it was unloaded!"