Rule 3

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By now most of us have been exposed to the four basic rules of gun handling: 1. All guns are always loaded; 2. Never allow your muzzle to cover anything you are not willing to see destroyed; 3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are aligned and you are ready to shoot; and finally, 4. Be sure of your target and what is behind it.


I feel an almost compelling urge to launch into a screaming rant regarding Rule 3, but I will make every effort to remain calm and rational. What part of “Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are aligned and you are ready to shoot,” is ambiguous? Of late, I have noticed that numerous so-called experts in the firearms industry regularly violate this rule, as well as Rule 2.


During the Media Day of the SHOT Show on the live-fire range, where there are literally hundreds of gun people, it was nearly impossible to not see someone exhibiting dangerous gun handling. I saw one well-known gun writer load a pistol some 15 feet from the firing line and then walk to the line with his finger resting on the trigger. On the crowded SHOT Show floor people are pointing guns and snapping triggers everywhere with virtually every gun pointed toward another person. Granted, everyone in the show knows that the guns on the show floor are rendered inoperable, but I can count on the fingers of one hand those of us who practiced safe gun handling—and we are supposed to be the professionals! Last night I was watching some of the shooting shows—again hosted by allegedly professionals in the field—and saw them walking around with loaded guns with their tired little fingers languishing on the trigger.


Familiarity does bring about contempt. Savvy gunners have renamed an AD (accidental discharge) to ND (negligent discharge). This is one rare instance where I am in total agreement in redefining the language. There is absolutely no excuse for a negligent discharge. Although possession of a firearm is a right, responsibility comes along with that right. Blow off the responsibility, and you’ll run the risk of blowing off your right.


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2 Responses to Rule 3

Clarence Manning wrote:
April 07, 2011

You are so right. I am in the process of instructing my 11 year old grandson on safety using an inexpensive pellet rifle in our basement. He has no's. 1, 2 and 4 down but still has trouble with number 3. I remind him, in front, in back, or even under the trigger guard but not on the trigger. Seems like it is hard to get across.

Kevin Wheeler wrote:
April 01, 2011

You're right about the "experts". I worked at a Boy Scout camp on the rifle range during the summer of 2010. The biggest rule violators were the Scout Masters. Of course we had to coach and mentor the boys, but most "head shaking" by our staff was done at the adults.