Most people do not handle firearms safely!


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johntaylorny
July 4, 2010, 12:38 PM
When showing my pistol to anyone I always make sure it's unloaded but the same thing happens. Non-gun owners, gun owners, and ccw holders all do the same thing.

1. First thing they do, or let's say do not do, is verify the gun is unloaded.
2. They pick the gun up with their finger wrapped around the trigger.
3. They look down the barrel or wave the gun around at people with finger on trigger.

This is about 90% of the time what people do.

Then when you tell them to stop waiving the gun around and get their finger off the trigger, instead of complying they verbally argue with you "but it's not loaded!".

I see the same thing at the gun range all the time too. Why the heck would someone argue with you "but it's not loaded" while pointing a gun at you instead of just taking their finger off the trigger?!?!

-John

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Justin
July 4, 2010, 12:47 PM
It's very unfortunate that you seem to have surrounded yourself with mouth breathers.

I have not had the same experiences you relate. Even when I've had a friend/relative pick up a firearm in an unsafe manner, a moment of simple safety instruction has always solved the problem.

Perhaps you should get rid of your gun or find new friends.

Nushif
July 4, 2010, 12:52 PM
I think the reason CCW permit holders are a bit more lax is because they carry a loaded firearm on their hip quite regularly.
I know for instance, I don't usually have the best flagging discipline (also, blame the Army, ironically) but have some of the better triggerfinger control.

The point is that the rules are an interlocking safety mechanism that prevents the worst from happening if applied, but frankly expecting every person to always handle every firearm in the way a longrifle shooter at a range who has just completed hunter's safety is not only counter to human nature, but also not practical for every shooter.

The triggerfinger thing bothers me, too. But someone flagging me after they've cleared a weapon and their finger is off the trigger ... I'm not entirely too worried about that.

I guess what I'm saying is that there's no excuse for lax gun handling, especially the final backstop being the finger on the trigger, but the rules aren't clad in iron. If that was the case, a cop wouldn't point a pistol at a suspect, a soldier wouldn't cover a buddy for fear of there being someone behind a doorway, etc.
And oddly enough, a concealed carry holder would never have a loaded weapon on them.

Losov
July 4, 2010, 12:55 PM
I'm more afraid of unsafe drivers - it appears that there are many more of them than there are unsafe gun handlers.

TheProf
July 4, 2010, 01:06 PM
This is my gun safety philosophy..

The four rules are there for a reason.
But I add a 5th...
"When at home...(assuming not a self-defense situation)...I keep all firearms holstered when others are at home." The holster acts as a secondary "safety". That means...no gun cleaning, no "dry fire" practice, etc. when others are home. I usually wait until I'm alone to do gun cleaning, dry fry practice, etc.

I always clear my weapon before handing it to anyone. That practice in a way...is a reminder for them to do the same. I also do the same when receiving a weapon from anyone.

Dokkalfar
July 4, 2010, 01:16 PM
Well I don;t hang around to many people who have firearms (at least, not with firearms present) But of the couple friends I do hang out with and go to the range with, clearing is a pretty standard practice. I have a friend who just bought a second pistol (had a LCP) and just bought Ruger's SR9c (or something like that) so when I first got to see it, its drop magazine, check chamber. Usually if we pass any firearms around, we tend to check the chamber every time the firearm changes hands..

kingpin008
July 4, 2010, 01:31 PM
I'm with Justin - I simply don't have the OP's problem.

If someone is handling one of my guns, it's because one or more of the following criteria have been met:

1. I know them and trust their ability to safely handle firearms.
2. I have instructed them in gun safety and proper firearms handling methods, and have had them verbally confirm that they understand.

In either of these cases, the gun is ALWAYS unloaded before being handed over, and the action is ALWAYS open. This way, all the person I'm handing it to has to do is look in the action and poke a finger into the chamber to verify.

And if they do something foolish like sweep me or themselves with the muzzle or place their finger inside the trigger guard, then I gently remind them not to do that. If they continue, the gun is promptly taken from them. Simple.

Spencer_OKC
July 4, 2010, 01:33 PM
What part of the country do you live in?

Most of the people I've seen handle guns who are not experienced usually question about the gun being unloaded, and I show them how to check that the firearm is unloaded. They generally do not put their finger on the trigger. While some will inadvertently cover someone while examining the firearm, they do not intentionally point the firearm at anyone.

I live in Oklahoma. I question your locale because I wonder if the lack of exposure in areas of the country that are not as firearm friendly result in clueless handling of guns.

Tallinar
July 4, 2010, 01:51 PM
I always clear my weapon before handing it to anyone. That practice in a way...is a reminder for them to do the same. I also do the same when receiving a weapon from anyone.

+1

Leading by example like this is the best way to get other people to be safe.

22-rimfire
July 4, 2010, 02:22 PM
I was at Bass Pro a while back and was looking at a revolver... they handed it to me after verifying it was unloaded and I did the same. Then a younger lady accuses me of pointing the gun at her and went into a rant.... I didn't point the gun at her, but I left it go. I figured she was having a bad day.

Patriotme
July 4, 2010, 02:30 PM
I agree that most non shooters or new shooters are unsafe. They just don't know what the rules are or they are so excited (nervous) that they forget. Most people have little or no firearms training. They seem to try but if they don't have an experienced person watching them they quickly develop bad habbits.

pacerdude
July 4, 2010, 02:39 PM
A big +1 to the Prof, I add that same fifth rule to my gun safety regiment at home. I know the holster is not a fool-proof safety system, but keeping my gun in the holster makes me feel better. :)

dbb1776
July 4, 2010, 02:44 PM
Always clear the weapon PERIOD. NEVER point it at something you don't want a hole in.
ALWAYS practice trigger discipline.
Anything else is reckless gun handling.
Self defense and military operations are in a different category. I agree with OP 100 percent.

Gouranga
July 4, 2010, 03:22 PM
Any non-shooters I hang with, will violate the firearm safety rules. This is why when I KNOW I am handing a gun to a non-shooter, I will take the time to educate them. With the shooters I know, I have never had one of them act so carelessly.

Werewolf
July 4, 2010, 03:27 PM
:eek:

Hell has officially frozen over, the sky is falling and the apocalypse has been scheduled.

I agree with Justin!

:what:

The OP is hanging with the wrong crowd but I too have not had his experience. I have noted that behavior in a few but they were always new shooters at a range, most having never handled a gun before and no one had ever explained gun safety to them. Invariably it took less than a couple of minutes to correct the behavior and the shooters were always grateful for the lesson.

Mudinyeri
July 4, 2010, 03:34 PM
I can probably count the individuals on both hands the individuals, other than me, that have "handled" one of my guns. Typically, this would be done during a shooting session with members of my family (one of whom, I will admit, does not know how to handle guns safely) or an instructional session with one of the members of my family.

I would never let someone I know only casually handle one of my guns.

tominct
July 4, 2010, 03:44 PM
Many years ago there was a gun shop down the street from where I worked. I'd occasionally stop in just to look around and talk with the guys there.
One Friday night, one of the regulars was there with his son, maybe 8 or 9 years old. Sara (the owner) was involved in a conversation with some of the other guys when the Dad asked to see a revolver that was in the display case. Sara picked it up and handed it to him, and continued with her discussion.

Small boy: Dad, Miss Sara didn't check to see that the pistol wasn't loaded!!

Dad (embarrassed): Don't worry, Miss Sara knows that all her guns are safe.

Sara: Please don't apologize for me, your son's right, I should have checked it...
(to kid): That was a good observation, I know your Dad's proud to have a son who's so concerned with gun safety.

jbrown50
July 4, 2010, 04:34 PM
I've introduced many new shooters over the years to firearms and I've never experienced what the op has stated.

Four months ago, I introduced a former anti-gun co-worker to firearms. Not one time did she exibit an unsafe act. During her formal training course the instructor actually used her to help with the class.

The few times that I've ever noticed new/inexperienced shooters 'fumbling' at the range I've offered my assistance in helping them to get on track and I don't recall any of them ever getting beligerent with me. I've even assisted young 'gansta' types and haven't been killed, beat up or shot at afterwards.

All I can say is that having a willingness to effectively communicate with people goes a long way. An arrogant know-it-all impatient and superior attitude never gets you anywhere especially when trying to convert new and potentially new firearms owners.

JoeSlomo
July 4, 2010, 04:49 PM
Quote:
I always clear my weapon before handing it to anyone. That practice in a way...is a reminder for them to do the same. I also do the same when receiving a weapon from anyone.
+1

Leading by example like this is the best way to get other people to be safe.

Agree.

DeepSouth
July 4, 2010, 04:55 PM
I feel your pain. Many, many times I have handed a gun to someone I know has been around guns all their life, then watched them insert a finger in the trigger guard and not pay attn to where it is pointed. Drives me nuts. I have also had people get offended when I corrected them, but so be it.

KodiakBeer
July 4, 2010, 04:57 PM
The broken rule that makes the vein in my forehead really pop up is picking up a firearm with a finger on the trigger.

If you think about it, you can break all the other rules; point a loaded gun at people, etc, but the reality is that if they keep their finger off the trigger everyone is actually safe. The finger-trigger rule is a habit, a bad habit, that even many experienced gunners have. And the "it ain't loaded" excuse is just BS - because if you pick up unloaded guns that way you're just reinforcing a habit that leads to picking up loaded guns in the same fashion.

It seems to be the most commonly broken rule, and is by far the most dangerous.

Top_Gunn
July 4, 2010, 05:04 PM
My impression of the army (second hand, but based on real stuff) is that they are terrific about trigger finger control but sloppy about where the rifle is pointed. I have a fairly recent picture of an airborne infantry platoon in Afghanistan taking a break. Muzzles (including the LT's) pointed everywhere, but no fingers inside the trigger guards. Anybody with first-hand info willing to confirm or deny?

Double Naught Spy
July 4, 2010, 05:06 PM
1. First thing they do, or let's say do not do, is verify the gun is unloaded.

Well, this would be me. Of course, I treat the gun as if it was loaded anyway, so I don't see a problem.

I had a guy get upset with me because I handed him a loaded gun. He watched me load the gun and asked to shoot it then got upset when I gave it to him during which time the muzzle remained pointed down range. He told me that I had broken one of the ten rules of gun safety. Um-k. First things first, he isn't shooting any of my guns again.

So I looked up the ten rules and found all sorts of sets of 10 rules. I found all sorts of rules, many of which overlapped, a bunch that didn't. Here is a sample. I don't think I am capable of complying with all of them all the time.

First set...
1. Assume That Any Gun, at Any Time, is Loaded.
2. Always Point a Gun in a Safe Direction.
3. Keep Your Finger off the Trigger.
4. Know What You're Shooting at.
5. Be Familiar With Your Gun.
6. Don't Shoot at Hard Surfaces (Including Water).
7. Don't Rely on a Safety Mechanism.
8. Load Your Gun When You Need to.
9. Use the Right Ammo.
10. Pay Attention!

Second set...
http://www.thegunzone.com/ten-rules.html

Third set...
Always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction.
Firearms should be unloaded when not actually in use.
Don't rely on your gun's safety.
Be sure of your target and what's beyond it.
Use proper ammunition.
If your gun fails to fire when the trigger is pulled, handle with care.
Always wear eye and ear protection when shooting.
Be sure the barrel is clear of obstructions before shooting.
Don't alter or modify your gun and have it serviced regularly.
Learn the mechanical and handling characteristics of the firearm you are using.

Fourth set...
chppm-www.apgea.army.mil/.../TEN%20RULES%20OF%20FIREARM%20SAFETY.ppt

Fifth set...
http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/publications/pwdpubs/media/pwd_br_k0700_0091.pdf

Sixth set...
http://www.daisy.com/sweepstakes/tenrules.html

And so on. No reference about not handing a loaded gun to another person. Of course, in all these refs, I don't see any mention of it being a rule to check if a gun is loaded or not. No doubt it isn't a bad idea, but certainly not a requirement. Based on what is on the 'net from various individuals, schools, and companies, there is a lot of variation of what folks think are the proper safety rules.

Of course several state specifically that one should not shoot at flat, hard surfaces. I primarily shoot steel targets and so this violates the rule outright and shooting flat, hard surfaces are the basis of some types of competition. How ironic.

The four basic safety rules codified by Cooper seem to work well enough for me.

The Expert
July 4, 2010, 05:16 PM
Maybe I hang with a different crowd, but I've never seen anyone look down the barrel of a gun without clearing and verifying it is in a safe condition first.

The finger on the trigger thing is all over though. I'm constantly having to tell my wife this when we go to the range. She needs to shoot more so she can get this rule seared into her skull.

killchain
July 4, 2010, 05:21 PM
This is my gun safety philosophy..

The four rules are there for a reason.
But I add a 5th...
"When at home...(assuming not a self-defense situation)...I keep all firearms holstered when others are at home." The holster acts as a secondary "safety". That means...no gun cleaning, no "dry fire" practice, etc. when others are home. I usually wait until I'm alone to do gun cleaning, dry fry practice, etc.

I always clear my weapon before handing it to anyone. That practice in a way...is a reminder for them to do the same. I also do the same when receiving a weapon from anyone.

I practice this as well.

If it's in my house and/or possession, and in a holster, it's loaded.

But regardless, I clear them anyway. Every time, all the time. :)

killchain
July 4, 2010, 05:26 PM
My impression of the army (second hand, but based on real stuff) is that they are terrific about trigger finger control but sloppy about where the rifle is pointed. I have a fairly recent picture of an airborne infantry platoon in Afghanistan taking a break. Muzzles (including the LT's) pointed everywhere, but no fingers inside the trigger guards. Anybody with first-hand info willing to confirm or deny?

It depends on the particular unit.

But in a situation like that, since everyone is practicing the right trigger discipline, it's almost a non-issue.

In all my time in the Army, I never witnessed a negligent discharge that wasn't in a clearing barrel. Heard a few horror stories, but they very well could have been those "tell the troops to scare safety into them" stuff.

Like the LT who supposedly didn't clear his sidearm, his RTO reminded him of it, and good old LT says, "Yeah I did see?" and promptly commits accidental suicide.

TomTerrific
July 4, 2010, 05:31 PM
I had a similar experience as the OP at the indoor range I frequent a couple of weeks ago. Two women in the next stall were handling their pistols carelessly. When one of them was twirling it on her finger, I reminded her that the weapon should be pointed down range at all times instead of at me. Her reply was "It's not loaded." I said something to the range crew but didn't get much of a response.

My recollection of the Army is that we were pretty well disciplined. I was in Pershing Rifles in college and the only time I was around loaded rifles was at summer camp in 1960 when the rifles were M1s and the ranges were KD. You always kept that piece pointed down range or got an earful.

As an officer we functioned as safety officers at the range. Same deal only we did the chewing.

YMMV,

Tommy

KodiakBeer
July 4, 2010, 05:33 PM
The four rules.

1. While keeping your finger off the trigger, keep your gun pointed in a safe direction.

2. While keeping your finger off the trigger, assume the gun is always loaded.

3. While keeping your finger off the trigger, be sure of your target and what's beyond it.

4. While keeping your finger off the trigger, keep your stupid finger off the trigger.

SharpsDressedMan
July 4, 2010, 07:41 PM
If most people did not handle guns safely, then we'd be having a lot more deaths and injuries than we do. By and large, MOST treat and handle guns very safely, with only a small number of accidents occurring in ratio to the number of guns in hand.

Gouranga
July 4, 2010, 08:34 PM
I started my girls on gun safety rules with Nerf guns. it is funny to see them actually get on other kids about not putting their finger on the trigger until they have it pointed at the intended target.

Though when i stepped my oldest up to my pellet gun (replica of a 1911 45), I handed her the gun. She picked it up finger outside the trigger guard, it is cool to see the habit instilled so young. I was NOT trained that way and nearly had an AD because of it (with gun pointed downrange) at the time because of it. The good part is, i have never broken 2 rules at the same time during my learning experience.

Beyond the 4 standard rules, I would also add,
"do NOT get complacent." - I see too many experienced gunner break this one for a second with bad consequences.

Double Naught Spy
July 5, 2010, 12:43 AM
If most people did not handle guns safely, then we'd be having a lot more deaths and injuries than we do. By and large, MOST treat and handle guns very safely, with only a small number of accidents occurring in ratio to the number of guns in hand.

I disagree. I see folks regularly violating various safety rules. The reason why more folks aren't injured or killed unintentially isn't because of safe handling, but because for unintentional injury or death to occur, multiple rules must be broken. For example, just having your finger on the trigger when you aren't ready to fire is a safety violation. Sweeping a person with the muzzle is a safety violation, but no injury or death will occur unless the gun discharges while the muzzle is pointed at someone.

Additionally, lots of violations occur without injury or death because other than the gun handler, there is nobody else around to be harmed.

MinnMooney
July 5, 2010, 01:11 AM
Why the heck would someone argue with you "but it's not loaded" while pointing a gun at you instead of just taking their finger off the trigger?!?!
from the O.P.

That the exact reason why I've been taught to say this in a situation where a child or novice hesitates to give you the gun they just found :
"Quick! Shoot the bed(couch/tree/desk)!" That is one of the few ways to make sure that they will not shoot you thinking that it's a "pretend gun".

joeq
July 5, 2010, 01:16 AM
Really? Everyone I'm around knows how to safely handle a firearm. Some of these people aren't regular shooters and they still know how to handle firearms. Your statement is far too broad and frankly you should know who your handing a firearm too. Your making most gun owners sound like morons.

Skinny 1950
July 5, 2010, 01:42 AM
A.............Assume every firearm is loaded.
C.............Control the muzzle direction at all times.
T.........Trigger finger must be kept off the trigger and out of the trigger guard.
S.............See that the firearm is unloaded....PROVE it safe.

P..............Point the firearm in the safest available direction.
R..............Remove all ammunition.
O..............Observe the chamber.
V..............Verify the feed path.
E...............Examine the bore for obstructions.

Technical Documentation and Graphics Section
Information Management Branch/CIO Sector.
RCMP Headquarters
Ottawa Ontario
Canada

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