Sometimes a theme or a meme appears within the gun blog community akin to dandelions: they pop-up out of nowhere, they look cute and interesting but they are a nuisance to get rid of and end up screwing the garden. The latest and freshest appears to be the re-interpretation of the Four Rules of Gun Safety as the Four Suggestions.
Yes, I know <wink, wink> that the gun I just checked and is still in my hand is not loaded. And since it is not loaded <wink, wink> , I can put my finger on the trigger ’cause it is not gonna fire and if it is not going to fire, I really should not mind if the gun is aiming at something I am not willing to destroy <wink, wink> and obviously I do not need to be aware of what is past the not-intended target. Then again, I am human, prone to mistakes, brain farts and absolutely guilty of committing the dumbest mistakes on the face of this planet which means, if I am to suddenly develop a disdain for the Four Rules, something might end up with a perforation that neither God, not the builder/creator/manufacturer intended to have.
And yes, there are times where we will be violating a rule or two. But in the inside of our brain, the Four Rules’ Alarm should be going at full volume and our cheeks should acquire a reddish hue of embarrassment. This is a good thing because it means we are conscious of the potential danger we have subjected somebody and ingrains in us a deeper sense of responsibility for our gun and our actions. When we shoot (if you are doing it right) you are running almost in automatic with our senses deeply engaged to the action and the target. Having the Four Rules so deeply engraved in our minds that the sub-conscious takes over and tries to make sure we don’t send a projectile where we do not want it, may it be a costly object or an even more costlier body part is not a suggestion but a dogma we should follow instinctively .
At the beginning of this year, I was around when a shooter had a negligent discharge in our club. He was shocked and disoriented and with good reason: he “knew” his gun was unloaded and yet it went bang in an enclosed area that left him half dead and totally shocked. And when two safety officers approached him to ascertain his status, he went on to violate the rest of the Four Suggestions. Do you know how fast and tight your sphincter closes and how chilled you body goes when you see a .45 caliber handgun aiming at your abdomen and you can see the trigger with a finger a top of it? By the grace of God, nothing else happened and we waved good bye forever to that shooter who not only pissed on the Four Rules but also did some micturition on top of the Club Rules and the Range Rules by screwing around with what turned out to be a wink-wink-unloaded-but-“Oh crap!”-actually-loaded gun in the Safe Area.
The Four Rules are a psychological Safety device. To demean them and take them as a suggestion would be like disabling the safeties of your 1911 or carry a Single Action Colt with six cartridges or having a shell in the chamber of the Remington 500 bouncing in the trunk of your car. Something eventually will go bang when you don’t want it.
Contempt for the dogma of the Four Rules breeds negligent discharges. And thinking that “It will never happen to me” is the surest way we will know about the new ballistic-induced tattoo you acquired either in the evening news or a gun forum.
PS: Whenever at our club we see a New Shooter (and New Shooter means anybody who has not shot with us before and it does not matter what kind of experience he or she has) demonstrating an inkling of boredom when we recite the Four Rules, we give them our Three Rules:
Rule One: Don’t Shoot Me.
Rule Two: Don’t Shoot Anybody Else.
Rule Three: Don’t Shoot Yourself.
Please make sure you observe religiously Rules One and Two; observing Rule Three is up to you. However if you violate Rules One and/or Two, you can rest assured that we will repay the favor.
This usually gets the offender’s attention. 🙂