But some guns are loaded-loaded. One of the interesting side effects of working in the firearms industry and constantly being around guns is how Rule 1 (all guns are always loaded) gets treated in different situations. For example, in my immediate area right now there is one loaded gun (my carry gun) and 12 guns that I know for a fact aren’t loaded. Now, does that mean I’m going to pick up those unloaded guns and not check them first to make sure they’re unloaded? Of course not.
This can actually lead to an important discussion of the four rules though. Yes, we want to treat all guns like they’re always loaded, but we also have to acknowledge that some guns really aren’t loaded. I know that the gun I’m dry firing with isn’t loaded, just like you know that the gun in your safe isn’t loaded. But we preserve the intent of the first rule by visually and manually guaranteeing that any gun we handle is unloaded. Here’s an example from real life – I’m dry firing a gun in the office. I get done, and I pass it to Shelley for her to dry fire. Once she gets it, the first thing she does is press check it to make sure it’s not loaded.
Interestingly, it would appear that the original intent behind rule 1 was to actually keep your gun loaded at all times to discourage casual gun handling. That seems pretty extreme, but then again the only time I unload my carry guns is to dry fire with them, so in many ways it makes sense. Ultimately, dogmatically shouting “ALL GUNS ARE ALWAYS LOADED” or “RULE 1” doesn’t do us any good, and neither does having a casual attitude towards loaded guns. If I could re-write Rule 1, I’d want it to say “treat all guns like they’re loaded until you’ve visually and physically verified they aren’t.” But that’s kind of wordy and doesn’t fit on a 3×5 card as easily as “All guns are always loaded.”