Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Safety First!

I have actually been pondering this post for a while, and then a couple of posts by fellow-bloggers prompted me to go ahead and write it. And I did, and saved it, and edited it, and then... didn't post it. Until now. Had to play games with posting time; since I started it several days ago, it tried to post to that date I started it, not the day I finished it...

A few days ago Turk Turon posted this video

in which--in case you do not or cannot watch You Tube products--a man has modified a chainsaw and/or an AR15 so that he can mount the chainsaw to the rifle, like a bayonet from a Bruce Campbell movie.

(Here's a Hollywood-plausible use for same: Just think of the impact of the Designated Door Kicker on the local Dynamic Entry Squad--AKA SWAT Team--making his own door, rather than simply knocking down the existing one. Hell, I know guys in real life who would be so impressed by this piece of hardware they'd forgive you for confusing their house for the meth lab with the same number, a block over...!)

Anyway, the happy inventor pops a few caps at a few offensive pumpkins, and then charges downrange to slice and dice them with his, um, "bayosaw."

I was with him to that point, but being bullet-ridden pumpkins they didn't stay put, and he came awful close to several key body parts in the process of making pumpkin pie filling...

Which beings me to this post in which RobertaX expounds on The Four Rules.
(Context: Evidently some professional football player with an improbable name popped a cap on himself. I never heard of the guy, probably because we only have high school football in this state.)
(You can't tell me those guys get paid; you damned sure can't tell me they deserve to! As for college football, they're stacking students like cord wood six to a dorm room, why are they spending money on those farcical athletic programs?)

To backtrack a bit, there are two schools of thought vis a vis Firearms Safety: The Threerulians and the Fourrulians.

As an National Rifle Association Firearms Safety Instructor, I am a Theerullian:
  • Always keep your muzzle pointed in a Safe Direction.
  • Always keep your finger off the trigger unto your ready to shoot.
  • Always keep your gun unloaded until you're ready to use use it.
Evidently, Roberta--and, apparently, most Intertoobs Gun People--is a Fourrulian:
  • All guns are always loaded.
  • Never point your gun at anything you are not willing to destroy.
  • Keep your finger off the trigger.
  • Be sure of your target and what is beyond.
Roberta links to this page on The Gun Zone, which lists both, with discussion. (Which I never read until after this post was half-written, by the way.)

Now, it seems that the Four Rules were devised by the Late, Great Col. Jeff Cooper (pbuh), primarily for range training or combat duty.

What is often forgotten, however, is that Col Cooper had input into the writing of the Three Rules, as well! The Three Rules are instructions for how to be safe while handling firearms under general conditions: If you follow them all, you will be safe.

Note that (as I explain the difference to students who are aware of the Four Rules) Rule One-of-Four is more of "an over-arching philosophy", an approach to gun handling safety, rather than a "how to." Note also that Rules Two-and-Four-of-Four are pretty redundant.

Now, I think that any argument--and I have seen and heard some--about "which set of rules is better" is, quite frankly, silly. They are not in competition, a point which, I think, is explained better in that page of The Gun Zone linked to above than I can.

A few additional words about the Three Rules:

1. Always keep your muzzle pointed in a Safe Direction.
So what's a safe direction? I have had people--generally current or former military, who had "Keep it pointed downrange, and elevated*" drummed into their heads so often that they "ass-you-me" that pointed "up" is safe. But what if you are on the second floor of a three+ floor building?
ANSWER: A safe direction is a direction in which, if there is an unintentional discharge, no harm to humans or damage to property will result.

2. Always keep your finger off the trigger unto you're ready to shoot.
Self-explanatory, yes? Maybe so, but you have to be careful with certain designs, as getting "something" in the trigger guard can lead to an unintentional discharge...

3. Always keep your gun unloaded until you're ready to use use it.
"Wait a minute! You expect me to load my gun when I see the deer? Or am already being attacked?"
ANSWER: Of course not.
  • A hunting rifle (shotgun/pistol) is "being used" when you get out in the field.
  • A firearm kept for self-defense is "being used" when you are preparing to defend yourself, and that means carrying (concealed or openly, and always in accordance with local laws and regulations!) or kept in the nightstand, the corner of the bedroom, etc., against need for "repelling boarders", that is, home invasion.
I am sure that, if I had a legal department, they would require that I add that


So, if you have children, the feeble minded, babysitters, or people who are known to abuse alcohol or other substances in your home, you need to make a decision: Would it be better to lock the guns up, to hide them, or to educate them?
In the case of children and babysitters, education might be the best course, but for those who are of reduced mental capacity or emotional stability, locking the guns up would be the way to go.
I have a very dear friend, and fellow NRA instructor, who temporarily stored all her guns at a friends house, when she realized her just-jilted daughter was contemplating drastic symbolic gestures. (All is well now.)

(By the way, I can't speak for any other states, but in Washington AC, gun safes are tax-free. Only the large long-gun type, though, not pistol safes.)

Another point about The Three Rules as expounded by the NRA, is that they are written as positive statements; that is, "ALWAYS" do such-and-such, not "NEVER " do such-and-such, let alone using words like "DESTROY" or "KILL" or other things that may be effective when used with emotional stable adults, but might scare youngsters and the more impressionable adults away from guns. An abused woman who has finally screwed up her courage to Do Something to protect herself from Homo Feralus** does not need to be scared back out of her decision!

Also, it is psychologically easier to remember "positive" statements than "negative" ones. And remembering, and following The Rules, is The Point.

*Usually stated as "Keep it pointed up and down range" to the point where people miss the fact that it is supposed to be, well, "elevated and downrange."
**My own coinage. Don't bother trying an online translator.

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