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    Greg and Beth

    the political and personal musings of two
    mountaineers living in west-central Florida
     
    Them's The Rules Comment
    Gregory Morris, 12/11/09 8:00:13 am
    The annual discussion has started up again, regarding whether or not "The Four Rules" of gun safety are absolute.

    My answer, when asked by a new shooter is, "Yes. Yes they are. Do not ever violate any of the four rules. I'm serious." When I'm teaching a new shooter, especially a child, all they will hear from me is, "These rules are the law and must never be violated." I am very strict about this. It is important to drill this in to anyone who is taking up shooting sports or hunting. The only way for safety to become the norm is to enforce the mindset that a violation is a very bad thing.

    However, I realize that in practice you have to violate one or more rules when holstering, disassembling, dry-firing, etc. Once I feel the rules have sunk in, I re-explain them using the layer analogy. (i.e. - You have to break more than one rule at a time for an accident to occur.) It is clearly a bad idea to tell a newbie, "just don't violate two rules at once," when they first pick up a gun!

    Most astute students will, at some point, realize that you can't own and use firearms without necessarily breaking one of the rules from time to time. This observation is often made when I show someone how to disassemble a Glock. That's why all of the rules have to be supplemented with common sense practices. For instance, when I show someone how to take down a any gun, I have a very specific ritual.

    Let's look at the Glock example: drop the magazine, rack the slide, then hold the slide back slightly, pull down the slide lock switch, then pull the trigger to release the slide from the frame. Simple, right? When I do it (and more importantly when I show someone else), it goes like this:
    • Locate "safe direction" to point gun
    • Unholster/uncase gun with trigger finger indexed along frame
    • Maintain muzzle discipline
    • Drop the magazine
    • Rack the slide three times
    • Set the gun down with the muzzle in a safe direction
    • Unload the ammo from magazine
    • Put all magazines and ammo away in range bag
    • Rack the slide three times
    • Lock slide back
    • Pinky-finger the chamber
    • Visual inspection of chamber
    • Release the slide and immediately disassemble per manufacturer's instruction manual

    Is that overkill? Sure. But I use that same basic ritual for every semi-automatic handgun or rifle. The ritual re-enforces the fact that I'm about to break one of the rules, and I damn well better be sure it is the only rule I'm breaking.

    The absolute or non-absolute nature of the four rules isn't really important. You talk about them as if they are absolute, but treat them with common sense. The rules are a tool which we use to create mental conditioning where safety is the automatic, natural instinct, and violations make your subconscious scream, "No!" A person will only ignore that voice only if they have convinced themselves consciously that there is no danger. If you only violation of the four rules are conscious, intentional, and utilizing common sense, then you will be safe.

    • All guns are always loaded!
    • Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy!
    • Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target!
    • Always be sure of your target, and what lies beyond!


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