This week a video of Travis Haley (probably best known from the Mag-Pul DVD series that were all the rage a while back) having an unintentional discharge with an AK pattern rifle made the rounds on forums and social media. The video generated some intelligent discussion, but largely it devolved into another Safety Sin goat rodeo. Here’s the claimed uncut footage from the producer of the video:
Let’s review the four primary rules of firearms safety:
- Never point a firearm at anyone or anything you are unwilling to destroy
- Keep your finger off the trigger until you have consciously made the decision to fire the weapon
- Treat all firearms as if they are loaded until you have personally verified that the weapon has been properly cleared…and even then, see rules 1 and 2.
- Be sure of the target you intend to shoot, and beyond it
Travis was demonstrating some sub-optimal trigger finger habits taught and used around the world in this video, probably intending to demonstrate why they aren’t a good idea. Mission accomplished on that front.
Doing this kind of demonstration with a loaded weapon is not really a good idea. It’s relatively easy to lose track of your weapon’s status if you are alternating between shooting and handling the gun, as one might be if they were setting up for various video shots. It is also a fairly common thing to see in classes when people are cycling from a break period back to class, and that’s one of the reasons why most sane instructors will have a rule forbidding handling a weapon if there is anyone between you and a decent berm.
It’s not uncommon for me to check the status of a gun I’m handling multiple times, even if I’m the only person around. Sure, I think that pistol I just put down a minute ago so I could go find my sight pusher is unloaded and I’m reasonably certain that nobody snuck in and loaded the gun while I had my back turned…but it costs me nothing to check the gun again before I resume the process of trying to swap the sights.
Note that even though Travis broke a couple of rules, he was observing rule 1. The over-the-shoulder angle of the camera shows that his rifle was pointed at a berm. The rules layer on top of one another so that even if one or, as in this case, two are broken tragedy is avoided.
Rule 1 violations really annoy me. It is an act of supreme douche-atude to point a firearm at another human being, and yet whenever I’m on a range or often even in a store I see it happen over and over and over again. This past week I took a brand new gun owner on her first trip to the range and before I could even get inside two separate idiots pointed rifles at me. Two. In a mostly empty parking lot somehow these **CENSORED** idiots managed to find a way to point loaded rifles directly at my face. I know they were pointed directly at my face because I was looking down the barrel of both of them before taking evasive action.
I’ve decided that Tom Givens has probably the best possible solution to rule 1 violations and I think I’m going to adopt it for myself. At the beginning of the Intensive Pistol Skills class Tom told us in a very matter of fact way that his rule was simple: If you point a gun at him, he’s going to point his gun at you right back. It wasn’t a joke. Pointing a firearm at another human being threatens them with death or grievous injury. Putting somebody in a casket, in a coma, or in a wheelchair is not a trivial faux pas.
Take a minute and read this, the account of a friend of mine who was injured when someone was negligently handling a gun. That injury has cost him a boat load of money, pain, and on a couple of occasions it almost cost him his life…because some dumbass couldn’t follow rule 1.
So, yeah…I’m down with Tom’s rule. I’ve tried being nice and being polite a whole bunch of times in the past and usually all I get is the person who pointed the friggin’ gun at me acting like somehow I have wronged them by asking them to please not point a lethal weapon at my face. I’ve had it with that. I’m sick to death of dudes running their suck about how super “sheep dog” they are who act like a spanked 6 year old when you tell them to stop pointing their gun at people who don’t deserve to die. Everybody wants “big boy rules” until it’s time for big boy accountability, and then they want to act like whiny little bitches.
Do not point a gun at me. You don’t get to threaten my life or the quality of it because you cannot be bothered to handle a gun properly. If you insist on being a colossal asshole and you point your gun at me, I’m going to point mine right back at you and then we can see how much you like staring down the barrel of a gun.
A lot of people online have been quick to make fun of Travis because of his mistakes in that video. Travis is a big boy and he’s making a good living as an instructor, so he doesn’t need anyone to white knight for him and I’m certainly not going to do it. He messed up, and he did it on video. People are going to make fun of it and meme it. C’est la vie.
It would be bloody wonderful if the same level of effort was applied to correct the douchebag in the next range bay when he waves a gun around like kid playing with a flashlight, or the drooling idiot at the gun store who insists on pointing guns at the employees or customers.