How would you handle this?


December 27, 2011, 04:00 PM
So I am in a slightly sticky situation and I figured you all might have some good advice.


I will start with some background, my father-in-law is who introduced me to firearms. When I was about 17 I started dating his daughter and he invited me out to shoot and I had a blast. I have been steadily collecting and shooting ever since then. I am now 23 and just married his daughter, we still share an interest in shooting and a lot of our time is spent discussing guns and he is always asking me to bring him to my range.

Now this may sound like an awesome situation, here is where it gets complicated. When I first got into shooting I respected everything he had to say, he seemed like a wealth of knowledge, and I hung off every word. I slowly gained a realization that he wasn't such an "expert", especially when it came to safety issues(muzzle control, eyes/ears, checking chambers). I could deal with his mistakes until this Christmas eve...

So on Christmas Eve, I gave him a 30 round clip for his 22 and his wife received a holster for for her PK380. First off, he tested out the clip, brought the gun back in, took the clip out and put the gun down. I discreetly went over, and as I suspected he had left a live round in the chamber, so I cleared it. This may seem minor but it was downhill from there,

Secondly while trying to get used the holster him and his wife proceeded to attempt holstering and drawing a loaded weapon, waving it all around in the process. I did my best to keep myself and my wife(pregnant) out of the way and kept my temper in check. When I got a chance I asked to see the gun and cleared it for them without making a big deal of it, he then had the nerve to (severely)correct me for not putting the safety of the now empty weapon on...

I am completely stumped on how to handle this, he is an "elder" to me and I feel out of place correcting him, not to mention he would argue he did nothing wrong and would not let it go(you know the type). I have learned to leave and let be with most things, but this is putting me, my wife and my unborn child in danger,

Any ideas? Sorry for the rant..

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December 27, 2011, 04:12 PM
I usually use some type of humor to communicate with people who are hard to communicate with. For example, when you noticed that he left a round chambered in the .22 rifle, you could have made a remark like, "Whoa. It looks like you're trying to kill someone here". If it is said in neither a whimsical nor confrontational tone, but somewhere in between, I would hope that he'd get the message.

December 27, 2011, 04:26 PM
I work in IT, where people skills are sorely needed, but often nonexistant. I have met several dozen "experts" who don't know what they're talking about. My advice is, if it's a safety issue you should address it. If he doesn't think it's a concern, don't go shooting with him, because he is a safety risk.

If it's something not safety related, listen to what he has to say. Disregard (internally) that which you know to be false. Fact-check everything else to see if it's false or true later.

Just remember - experience doesn't mean intelligence. Practice doesn't make perfect, practice makes permanent. Just because someone is your elder doesn't mean they have the right experience or learned the right lessons from their mistakes. I know plenty of people who learned the wrong lessons (i.e. not "don't do bad things" but "don't get caught").

December 27, 2011, 04:27 PM
I work in IT, where people skills are sorely needed, but often nonexistant. I have met several dozen "experts" who don't know what they're talking about. My advice is, if it's a safety issue you should address it. If he doesn't think it's a concern, don't go shooting with him, because he is a safety risk.

If it's something not safety related, listen to what he has to say. Disregard (internally) that which you know to be false. Fact-check everything else to see if it's false or true later.

Just remember - experience doesn't mean intelligence. Practice doesn't make perfect, practice makes permanent. Just because someone is your elder doesn't mean they have the right experience or learned the right lessons from their mistakes. I know plenty of people who learned the wrong lessons (i.e. not "don't do bad things" but "don't get caught").
I have pretty much stopped shooting with him for various reasons, but it is then when we are at their house or they are at ours that is getting me. Maybe I will try the "serious" humor approach.

December 27, 2011, 04:28 PM
That is a difficult situation and be careful how you handle it. It could have some lasting effects.

Maybe you could tell him that you are taking a safety refresher course and since since he introduced you to firearms you would be honored if he joined you to make it fun and you will pay. Tell him that with the baby coming the wife is making you take the class. Perhaps this time around some of it will stick better.

Like CoRoMo said, humor can go a long way in breaking the ice so it doesn't sound so matter of fact like.

Good luck

December 27, 2011, 04:30 PM
Get someone neutral (your wife, mother in law etc) to by the *both* of you a safety class you can take together.

Make sure the idea is never connected to you. Just treat it like a day at the range with the old man.

December 27, 2011, 04:38 PM
I agree with the idea of the safety class. That way it is someone else who is correcting his bad habits and not you, and in the future (after the class) you can refer to the class if you need to (softly) correct his gun handling. You can claim that the class "really opened your eyes" to gun safety.

December 27, 2011, 04:41 PM
The gun class idea is AWESOME, this forum never ceases to impress.

December 27, 2011, 04:45 PM
Sometimes its hard to correct someone with authority over you...

The best way is quietly and respectfully. Like your mother in law with the loaded pistol. Take it, without saying a word and unload it. Hand it back. Stare them in the face blankly.

You didnt insult, and you made things better. If its brought up more... go into it a bit. Respect is the name of the game. If they percieve a challenge it will get confrontational. You want to avoid that even when your rage is boiling.

December 27, 2011, 05:10 PM
I don't believe gun safety is a subject to be bashful discussing.
when he corrected you about the safety not being on, if it were me i would of said "you know you handed me a loaded gun right ? you know you left your .22 rifle with one in the chamber before?"
were they practicing with the safety on ? fingers off trigger ?

December 27, 2011, 05:17 PM
Post rules in your house where everyone may read them and apply them equally to every member of your household and every visitor. One of the rules will deal with "no loaded weapons" or however you want to word it. This way your father in law won't feel singled out or discriminated upon. The reason for the new posted rules is you have a baby on the way and increased number of guests, etc.

Mark, esquire

December 27, 2011, 05:35 PM
I like the safety course idea, It will be a refresher for you and will likely help your father in law, and no feelings get hurt.

December 27, 2011, 05:36 PM
Baylor, no loaded weapons = no firearms. They are always loaded.

December 27, 2011, 06:10 PM
If I was in your situation I would have a talk with the wife and be on the same page first. Then use the reasoning and talk with him that "with the new baby on the way the wife and I have realized that the things we are sometimes doing with firearms are unsafe. We as a family have a responsibility to safely protect/raise the new baby above all else. So if I seem a little overly safety conscious to you especially around firearms, please humor me and help us all stay extra safe so that we can all be here to raise the baby together." Using the "we" word is less of an accusing thing than saying "you" and better tolerated. Then that is the time for the wife to say that her doctor has mentioned attending a firearms safety class would be a good thing for the family to help keep the new baby safe. If all four of you go and take the course there will be three of you that will be on watch if he makes a mistake to remind him about safety and you alone will not be doing all the correcting and therefore getting the brunt of his anger. A good approach with the proper motivation and he will get on board I would hope. Good luck with his enlightenment.:)

Ghost Tracker
December 27, 2011, 06:20 PM
Do what is safe. Do it yourself if necessary. Say nothing. Do not instruct. Lead by SILENT example. Talk is cheap. He who speaks first...could be written out of the will :D. But NO AMOUNT of family or domestic tranquility is worth the risk of AD/ND tragedy. Would you rather piss him off, hurt his feelings OR deal with a fatal shooting? Make no mistake, that's the choice.

December 27, 2011, 06:28 PM
Rethin is right on target. Enroll with him in an NRA Basic Pistol class (about 8 hours with range time) On the way home remark how you had not been handling firearms as safely as you should have and how much you learned. Ask your father-in-law to review the safe handling with you so you would be sure to understand and practice it correctly. Make him part of the process and praise him for helping you get it right.

December 27, 2011, 07:32 PM
Safety violations are not the situation to turn the other cheek. Even if he is offended in the short term, it may be his life you save by speaking up. The class idea sounds like a winner.

December 27, 2011, 07:49 PM
I would tale him aside and let him know that according to MY rules for shooting and gun handling,he had made a mistake.

And we can agree to not shoot together as long as he insists on making me uncomfortable.

As a "comfort" thing and as a guest in his house or range,he might feel compelled to make you happy.

But if not,I would refuse to be near him when he has a loaded gun out.

My safety and that of those around me come first.

December 27, 2011, 08:57 PM
They are family, tell them about it & if they don`t like it, too damn bad, safety first......

December 27, 2011, 09:15 PM
If this was anyone else I would suggest being pretty direct with him. But the fact is that with that approach you run the risk of not only angering him but your mother-in-law as well. And the fact that you and your in-laws aren't getting along will also upset your wife. I think CoRoMo is on the right track. Just keep making, seemingly innocent, remarks. But another approach would be to bring up safety by talking about a safety mishap that you made. If you have to completely fabricate one. And from there you talk to him about how much more safety minded everyone has to be especially with your little one coming. By putting your self in the spotlight first it will not put him on the defensive but it gives you the oppurtunity to have a serious to the point conversation without pointing fingers. At the very least you will be able to frankly point out how important safety is and how EVERYONE can be safer.

Shadow 7D
December 27, 2011, 09:15 PM
Honesty and humility
you know the guy, so, while it sucks,
you also know how best to approach him

if he is open, be open and honest
if he is an 'expert'
sniping, er, joking comments may work

as when he points his gun in your direction, say
"Whoa, you wanna have a gunfight, keep pointing that at me..."
kinda gets the point across

Or you can make the point like this
"can you stop pointing your gun at your daughter and me, I'd like to at least see my son before you kill him"

December 27, 2011, 09:46 PM
Someone points a gun at me and they will get an earful. It might piss them off, but it might save someones life later as well.

Never be afraid to impress gun safety on someone. Firmly and respectfully if possible, but firmly and irritably if you have to.

My last one was when someone turned after shooting and pointed a pistol at me. I told him firmly to never to do that again. His response was "The safety is on". I responded with a very irritated "I DON"T CARE!" And this was a buddy from work who wanted to shoot his new toy. He was apologetic and I believe I made a positive impression on him as far as gun safety goes.

December 27, 2011, 09:51 PM
sneak in while their asleep and load there guns with dummy ammo. But than that kinda defeats the purpose of having a gun handy in your house

December 27, 2011, 10:01 PM
I've had to correct eldrs too. With my dad I've always been direct and he prefers it that way. There was one time I had some old timer I was hunting with point his gun at my leg region while we were chatting. In that situation I kept it subtle while still getting the point across. I looked down at the gun took a big step back the looked back at him. He said to me "don't worry it isn't loaded". All I could think to say was "that's nice" and kept on with the conversation. He got the hint though that he should be mindful of where he points the thing.

December 29, 2011, 01:56 PM
Wrong is wrong, and this man, elder or not, needs it spelled out to him, in whatever fashion you feel best. But not approaching the subject is as wrong as he is. He is putting others at risk, and you can't be around someone who does things that careless. You can always make it an agreement if nothing else works, that guns will be off limits when you are in their company, and leave it at that.
This way from what you said he isn't going to listen to your opinion anyway, so for the peace of the family, you can just not enter into an never ending conversation. Just tell him you would rather not have the guns being handled when you are there. If that dosen't work, you have no choice but to stop going there. It will be short lived even if it comes down to that, hell get over it.
I found that arguing with someone over such matters is a waste of time, you can try showing him statistics and the like, but if he's a cantankerous old guy, he won't even read them. Actions speak loudr, just make yurself scarce, he will ask you what's wrong, and there is you opening. We just don't feel comfortable with the way you handle your guns . It's an accident waiting to happen, and I won't subject my family to this nosnense.

Friendly, Don't Fire!
December 29, 2011, 02:14 PM
My dad has been shooting with me over the past year or two. We have gone to the range to try out a couple of new guns he acquired. I found on more than one occasion, his sweeping me with a 20 gauge shotgun (loaded, finger on trigger, safety off) and a 9mm (finger on trigger, loaded).

I try to calmly state "Watch that muzzle" -- trying to be kind of light-hearted about it. When he said "I'm being careful!" I kindly told him that the gun was loaded and for an instant, was aimed at my stomach. I also said something like "we don't need any accidents here, today!" We were the only two there and the gate was locked behind us. Going to the ER would mean fooling around with unlocking the gate to leave the place! I think 911 would be better and faster, I could start leaving and meet the ambulance on the way to the hospital.

I agree with the gun-safety course, and the Rules of the House! And, what perfect timing, the baby has to be protected at all costs, who could argue THAT?? :D

December 29, 2011, 02:36 PM
You have to have a talk, and after you have politely stated your concerns with all do respect, it will be up to him to either respect your concerns or expose himself as an even bigger idiot than he is already. Bottom line, the safety of your wife and unborn child come first, forsaking all others.

December 29, 2011, 02:44 PM
The class is a good idea, and bringing up the discussion afterwards leading with "I didn't know how little I knew about gun safety. I was doing such-and-such wrong" and see where it leads.

Also, there is no substitute for leading by example. Demonstrate the behavior and attitude you want to see by doing it yourself.

But bottom line, set some hard and fast standards. Politely insist that they be observed. If people in your life are unwilling to observe them, make it clear that those people are welcome to do whatever they like when you aren't there. But when in the presence of you and the people you are morally responsible they are not permitted to handle firearms at all until they follow those rules.

The Four Rules of Universal Gun Handling are a good start. They're easy to learn, memorize, put into practice, and make into a habit. They also have the benefit of being respected by disciplines like IDPA and IPSC, who shoot in an action-sport format.

December 29, 2011, 02:51 PM
Safeties can fail, alway be sure to check first that no round is chambered. I was taught that the best safty is to keep the chamber clear. the mechanical safty is just second reassurance.

December 29, 2011, 03:11 PM
Safeties can fail, alway be sure to check first that no round is chambered. I was taught that the best safty is to keep the chamber clear. the mechanical safty is just second reassurance.
That is how I handle all of my weapons, it is getting this across to him that is proving difficult.

December 29, 2011, 03:13 PM
NRA Basic Pistol Course, come to Vermont, I will give you a family discount ....
Follow the three basic rules and give gentle reminders.

December 29, 2011, 03:17 PM
Talk to him man to man, on the side, away from women, one on one. Tell him that you respect him, but that it is not good safety nor good manners to be that reckless with loaded guns. Oh, he's going to get mad. Then YOU get mad and stand your ground. State your case, and tell him the discussion is over. If he does it again in YOUR house, you'll ask him to leave. If you are at his place, you (& your wife) can walk out. The making up can come later when he calms down and becomes self critical, recognizing that you are right. Tough measures, but necessary.

December 29, 2011, 03:20 PM
I know you dont want to upset your in-laws so I would try the joking/comments first. You could try the safety course thing, but if he considers himself and "expert" already your probably not going to talk him into going anyhow. I would have had to of said something with the pistol incident after correcting you on not putting the safety on. Do not let it go if the other ideas don't work. Feeling might have have to be hurt in the process but thats better than being injured or killed. Just make sure your wife is on the same page with you about it though. You dont need touble at base camp...:rolleyes:

December 29, 2011, 03:34 PM
This one, I honestly can't see how it will end without some hurt feelings. There is a confrontation coming. You are right. He is being unsafe. You are correct to be concerned enough to want everyone to be safe. But he considers himself to be your mentor, and probably doesn't believe that you can ever tell him that he is doing something wrong.

You are the one who has to sense the best time to tall him, "Look man, I have some concerns. Some of the things you are doing are unsafe." He may not react well. He might be flippant, and use exaggerated safe practices in the future to mock you. But understand, if he used these unsafe practices on any military, police, or competitive range, he would be told to leave.

December 29, 2011, 03:46 PM
When I take family/friends to the range, before we even get the guns out of the truck I start off with "look, we're here to have fun but I WILL correct you the first time and I will end our outing the second time there is a safety violation. Don't be offended when I correct you - because it will be very direct and to the point."

They get the point right up front - and when I do (as I almost always have to do) correct them I preface it with "I warned you I would not tolerate a lack of safety but........"

No hurt feelings, just plain straight talk. Fortunately I have not had to end a shooting outing early.

December 29, 2011, 03:47 PM
An awkward situation to be sure, and I applaud you for trying to take the initiative in the interest of preventing a preventable gun-shot tragedy clearly now in the making.The safety class idea is a good one. Safety when handling any firearm can never be compromised, no matter whose toes get stepped on. Though your father-in-law may have his feelings hurt, printing out this thread and giving it to him or having him read it via the monitor might help change his attitude and let him know how concerned you are about a very serious matter. His unsafe behavior when handling guns has to be addressed, no matter how bitter the pill is to swallow-and the sooner, the better. Biting the bullet now is a far better alternative to the bullet ending up inside a loved one's anatomy later.

December 29, 2011, 04:35 PM
Rob,I wish you luck.I had the same problem with my FIL,35 years ago.We never were able to solve the problem,and I tried about everything.His standard response was that the army trained him,and that he knew more than me.Muzzle control was his worst problem.I finally had to quit hunting and shooting with him.It cause a few problems for me,at home,until I showed my wife a deer that I shot and explained that few people would survive that kind of trauma.He has passed on,and his daughter and I are still married.I regret the fact that we were not able to share something that we both loved to do,but I might not be here if I had not taken a stand.My wife has hunted with me for several years now,and we raised both of our boys to be safe and respect firearms..I wish you luck,I hope you can resolve these problems. Lightman

December 29, 2011, 05:42 PM
robmaine, i would suggest you have both your in-laws read all the responses posted here while you explain to them the severity of your dilemma. there are a number of very experienced leos and military types on this forum that would, i'm sure, be glad to back your opinion on this.

the only safety on a weapon is the one between your ears. imop


December 30, 2011, 07:06 AM
I don't care who the person handling the gun is.It is safety first, if not, the firearm and the person are seperated...No exceptions.

December 30, 2011, 08:30 AM
You have more restraint then I, good sir.

December 30, 2011, 09:00 AM
The class is the best idea, people get...confortable...complacement....whatever word you want to use if they have been around something for a long time and it forget about the dangers. This is nothing bad about the person it is just human will happen to all of us from time to time.

I would take the class, tell them that you are trying to practice strict firearm safety and get in the habit for when your new baby comes along as you want to teach him about firearms and being safe around them....and so on.

December 30, 2011, 09:36 AM
You need to figure out for yourself why you were not willing to say something to him about his blatant neglegence. And just because he is older than you is no excuse. You need to grow your backbone a bit and stand up for yourself, your wife, and your unborn child's safety and well being in ALL situations. Having someone get shot by father-in-law, knowing that you could have prevented it by just speaking up and educating him a bit, will stick with you forever. Don't pass up the opportunity to talk with him. Drop everything you're doing NOW and go get this done. Present him with your observations, concerns, and solutions to the issues. He just might wave a loaded gun at someone else today and the results will be fatal.

December 30, 2011, 09:44 AM
I must agree with the safety class as well. Even just a basic handgun class will bring out any safety problems (through the instructor).

December 30, 2011, 10:07 AM
Gun safety is a pet peeve with me. Family or not, if you point a gun at me, you're going to hear from me. I guess there's a nice way to say something, but a few piercing words are far better than piercing bullets. I believe in zero tolerance with gun safety. They'll get over being offended, if they're sensible and worth being around.

December 30, 2011, 10:31 AM
Maybe ask his daughter to talk to him in private, like, "I haven't told my husband because I don't want him to get upset but you really scared me the other day with that gun Dad. I'm starting a family now, etc, etc, etc." Hopefully, they have a good enough relationship that he won't get all defensive and upset.

December 30, 2011, 12:10 PM
sneak in while their asleep and load there guns with dummy ammo. But than that kinda defeats the purpose of having a gun handy in your house


Gun Geezer
December 31, 2011, 07:30 AM
Had the same problem with my Dad. I cannot count the times I have stared down the barrel of his 12 guage or .270. I'd move the gun for him!, duck, move, or whatever and tell him to stop pointing it at me. He would (seriously) deny he'd even done it.

I just had to stop hunting with him. Sooner or later he was going to kill me.

I've heard him literally cry when talking to my mom about how I don't love him anymore cause I won't hunt or shoot with him.

You have a tough choice to make. Make it and be sure the wife unit knows why and what's up.

December 31, 2011, 12:43 PM
Maybe ask his daughter to talk to him


I jumped in to say the same thing, and woad_yurt beat me to it.

Of all the people involved here, the one who can talk to him with total impunity is Daddy's little girl. Explain to her how you feel, make her an absolute zealot on gun safety, and turn her loose on dear ol' Dad. Heck, you could even use the situation to get on his good side. For example, after she takes him to task for an infraction, give him a whipped kind of shrug and mutter, "What can we do... I guess she's right, after all. Bless her heart, she really cares about us."

How can he be upset if you're just giving in to his little girl?

December 31, 2011, 02:58 PM
He probably chastised you about the safety to redeem his embarrassment about being corrected on the loaded gun issue (albeit greatly justified). You probably could have appeased his pride with humility about not setting the safety. You could probably gift him with a CCW class, perhaps him and his wife or yourself. Or you could probably stop associating with him, especially when guns are involved. For us older guys pride is a fearsome thing especially when it involves something like a life long association with guns (don't ask me how I know =o).

December 31, 2011, 03:25 PM
Someone points a gun at me and they will get an earful. It might piss them off, but it might save someones life later as well.

Same here. Other things can be handled more with more discretion. Humor is good, so is using a question to bring awareness, such as "How do feel about someone handing you a firearm before clearing it?". Then after their reply, you tell them your opinion. Not in a superior way, but informatively. If your F-I-L knows you desire guns to be cleared, odds are he will do it out of respect, even if he doesn't agree. If he was your mentor, it will be tough for him to accept the fact that he is not always correct. Again, asking what is correct may be more diplomatic and may open up more discussion than declaring what is correct. As in, "is this really a magazine or a clip?".

January 1, 2012, 10:53 AM
How important do firearms play in your relationship with your FIL? Are there other hobbies you can enjoy with him?

The gun safety course is a good idea but I would not expect any changes. A lifetime of bad habits are hard to break.

I would limited my visits to my in-laws for starters and invite them over to your place more often.

I would gracefully think of excuses not to go shooting with him and I would not discuss shooting and guns in detail with him.

Cut out the gun related Christmas gifts.

Find different shooting buddies.

My wife enjoys a close relationship with her father and have never tried to change it in over 30 years of marriage. My FIL has done things that I didn't approve of but we worked around it.

January 1, 2012, 11:26 AM
Does your FIL go to the range without you sometimes? If you knew ahead of time next time he was going you could contact the range and ask the Range Safety Officer to keep an eye on him. Soon as he commits an infraction, he gets corrected by someone else, not you. The RO could suggest safety classes. Once your FIL gets back from the range ask him how it went. If he is man enough to admit what happened, that would be the time to talk to him Man to Man, tell him how much you respect him and appreciate all he taught you but that you want to attend safety classes with him. Offer to pay for the class. Its all about mutual respect

January 1, 2012, 05:43 PM
The safty/shooting course is a great idea to start with. If he says that he is not interested then you have a number of options. You could buy him a good shooting video which would review the proper safty handling of firearms. If he still does not change his behavior, you could bring it up in front of him, your wife & mother in law. Start by telling him of all the reasons you respect & admire him but that he is putting his family at risk with the improper handling of firearms. I know this may strain or end the realitionship but for me the safty of my wife & my unborn child is more important then his feelings. Imo protecting your family first & then yourself is the primary reason to have firearms in the first place. Good luck to you & i hope your father in law sees the wisdom in your concern.

January 2, 2012, 08:52 PM
Invite him to take a class with you as "something fun you can do together"

If you're in a similar situation as happened on Christmas and you need to say something, try to do so with humor..... "don't shoot me cowboy, I didn't do it.....honest!"

Make sure you wife appreciates gun safety and have her rag on him...."shrug....what can I say....she's your daughter"

Next time, give him a cordless screwdriver. ;^)

January 2, 2012, 09:29 PM
Thanks Again for all of your replys, over the last week or so I have had a couple opportunities to diplomatically approach this issue and I am happy to say it seems to be making a difference for now.

The big one was I was showing him the Ruger 77/44 I just bought, I made a very obvious point of checking the chamber and showing it to him before handing it to him. When he handed it back, he did the same, which is not common for him. We seem to be making progress!!

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