Bad habits

My friend, Paul Carlson, posted a link about the new Taurus TCP with wings on Facebook. ETA: this is not Paul handling the gun but rather him commenting on another website.

I withhold comment on the viability of the wings, but the Jose Canseco “shoot your finger off’ hold used in the photos is unforgivable for someone who is supposed to be a firearms semi-professional. People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

Oh, but that’s OK because “it’s not loaded.”

No, it’s not OK. That’s how we get into sloppy habits that bite us in the ass.

Maybe I’m becoming obsessed with ‘negative outcomes,’ but I see a lot of bad gunhandling by people who should know better. Don’t get into habits that can come back to haunt you under a different set of circumstances.

22 responses

  1. Unsafe Cop violates safety rules & shoots own finger off then sues gun store (video)

    The lawsuit claims Smith, a police officer for 30 years, was “exercising reasonable care and due diligence for his own physical well-being” …..

    Except for violating all 4 universal gun safety rules!!!

    Anyone exercising reasonable care and due diligence would have:
    1) Checked the magazine & chamber to verify empty.
    2) Not pointed the muzzle at anything he is not willing to destroy (including his left hand!)
    3) Kept his finger off the trigger and out of the trigger guard until ready to shoot
    4) Be sure of the target & what is beyond.

    HE VIOLATED ALL FOUR UNIVERSAL GUN SAFETY RULES. He was careless, reckless, and unsafe.

    No, I do not agree that Smith exercised reasonable care and due diligence for his own physical well being. He is a very poor example of proper gun handling & safety awareness. Had he been better trained in safety, or exercised better safety practice, this would not have been a newsworthy event.

    Guns do not discharge by themselves. This man pulled the trigger while he had his other hand in front of the muzzle. Very poor safety awareness. It appears that when he picked up the gun, it did not have a bullet in the firing chamber, but it did have a loaded magazine.

    The man neglected to verify the gun was not loaded. Then he racked the slide which loaded the round from the magazine into the chamber. He is solely responsible for that, and solely responsible for pulling the trigger, and solely responsible for having his finger covering the muzzle when he pulled the trigger.

    If he wins a lawsuit against the gun store after he carelessly shot his own finger off, I’ll lose all faith in the justice system.

    Video of the actual event:

    Glasgow Daily Times story published Jan 13th 2015;

    Professor, I’m fully in agreement with you!

  2. Thank God for those obsessed with safe gun handling, Claude. I can’t count the times I’ve been at some gun shop and watched a potential buyer pick up a gun and inadvertantly start pointing it at others in the shop. I’m sure in these cases the gun handling is not being done to consciously frighten others. But it drives me crazy. What’s even more disturbing is that most of the clerks simply smile benignly and don’t say a word. And yes, if someone does say something about the gun being pointed at them, the response always seems to be that dumb comment about the gun not being loaded. These people really need to have the Col. Cooper rules of gun safety hammered into them. A whole lot of misadventures with guns have happened with guns that were assumed to have been unloaded.

    1. What’s even worse is the number of employees at gunshops who have pointed guns at me and other customers. It makes me want to walk out and go somewhere else. Unfortunately, I am reasonably sure it will happen somewhere else, too.

  3. I've found loaded guns in shops at least twice; one used 10-22 with a full mag and one in the chamber, another was a Ruger Super Blackhawk .44 Mag that another customer had just rocked the hammer back and tracked a passing car. Different shops, different

    I have run across loaded guns in gunshops, been muzzled in some, expected to be at gun shows and was, and at an Illinois CCW class, among other places. The most common, though, has been at police ranges when I competed at various Illinois towns to compete. That bugged me the most.

  4. the “habit” of going to an annual show where display guns are without firing pins and checking, double checking, and triple checking that a firearm is unloaded and then handling it like a piece of metal and plastic that won’t spontaneously energize a lite saber out of the barrel is probably very low risk; and fun. criticizing that one picture out of context seems unfair.

    at some point the firearm has to be deemed empty and safe to handle or no one would ever get to disassemble them for cleaning or repair.

    i think the firearm safety rules are such that any 1 can be broken, while heeding the remaining, without ill effect. had the former-cop not already broken 2 (always loaded unless checked & finger off the trigger) then breaking the 3rd (pointing it at his finger) would not have been so terrible.

    otherwise point taken.

    1. Preface: I don’t mean any disrespect to you personally.
      While I can see where your coming from, I think that the mentality that “It’s okay for me to break a safety rule right now because: reasons”, is a terrible one. In my experience(limited compared to some) it is almost always more about being lazy than not being unable to do things properly. It is a simple matter to disassemble a firearm without violating safety protocols. If you must pull the trigger, do so while pointing the weapon into a safe direction, with a known backstop.

      I am constantly amazed at how people, even some big name trainers, will casually break safety protocol in videos. I think this sends a terrible message.

      At this point in my life I try to view every single movement that I make with a gun, every time I touch it, as a solid training rep in a system. If my system for managing safety protocol can’t survive a trip to a gun show, or showing a new shooter something, then how the heck is it supposed to hold up under duress?

      I have noticed that if I seem to be handling a firearm skillfully,with great care and reverence, that it tends to improve the gun handling of others around me. I find this generally holds true for new shooters that don’t know what to do(so they copy others), but even for lazy gun store employees.

      The reverence and care with which we handle firearms is contagious!

    2. It is one thing to break ONE rule consciously and willfully for a specific reason and acknowledge having broken that rule. Breaking any rule simply due to laziness, sloppiness, and lack of thought about what you’re doing is entirely a different matter. The former I can excuse under a limited and controlled set of circumstances, the latter I cannot excuse under any set of circumstances.

      The photographs clearly represent the latter. The person handling the gun in the pictures could have easily held it with their hand wrapped around the slide in front of the trigger guard and behind the muzzle. They were just being careless and building bad habits. That’s the genesis of having a negative outcome later on.

  5. A few months ago, I was attending my annual pilgrimage to the Roger’s Shooting School and during one of the lunch breaks, Bill was demonstrating one of his gun cleaning systems. Upon re-assembly he offered the crowd to look over the cleanliness of the gun, handing it off safely to the first observer……thereafter almost everyone (generally very savvy gun folks) in the crowd had the muzzle pointed at someone else as they took a peek at the shiney surfaces, it drove me nuts ! Especially as Bill and the instructors go out of their way to emphasize the most important safety is Muzzle Direction ! “The subconscious mind knows correct repetition” – the mantra ignored in the photo illustrated was the prelude to the negative result for even a trained LEO.

    1. Bill’s dictum is “Muzzle direction is the primary safety. Always has been and always will be.” I agree with him 100 percent.

  6. Reblogged this on disturbeddeputy and commented:
    Safety is about the choices you make and how you live. Sloppy habits will get somebody hurt, maybe you or someone you care about. LIVE SAFETY!!!

  7. Well said Claude. Having two modes of gun handling, one applying the four rules and being dead serious, the other allowing bullshit admin sloppy weapon handling, will at some point cause one to default to the incorrect handling method. Best to have only the one method and to take this seriously 100% of the time.

  8. A friend invited me to go with him to a new gun shop that recently opened in our area. I agreed to go with him knowing that he felt better having me along since his firearms knowledge is limited.

    Sad to say, but I refuse to attend any gun shows, and I am VERY PICKY about which gun shop I enter into due to the extreme incompetence of folks with firearms.

    Upon our arrival at this shop I noticed that every firearm, including rows of rifles on the wall had a magazine in place. This throws up a red flag to me,,, “surely they will remove the magazine before the hand-off to a customer” I think to myself. WRONG,,, I observed the gun shop owner’s wife hand handgun after handgun to any moron in the place,,, never once did I see anybody even check to see if there may be a round hiding behind that closed action.

    My gut was telling me to get out, but I was trying to subdue my emotions on behalf of my friend.

    Suddenly a patron wants a red dot optical for his AR15, but he too knows nothing. I observe as the owner reaches behind the door, and retrieves his personal M4 with red dot sight. The problem is that the M4 had a magazine locked in as well. On goes the switch to the red dot, and Mr. Gun Shop Owner instructs the potential buyer to have a looky see. The muzzle of the M4 was pointed right at the entry door as folks walked in, out & passed by. PERFECT!!!

    Next, the patron want a laser too. So Mr. Gunsmith??/shop owner trots off to his backroom. Minutes go by as he emerges from his shop/backroom with the new laser in place. He then points the muzzle of the gun right at the AR15 owner & says LOOK AT YOUR SHIRT. There it was in all it’s glory,,, the bright red light glowing COM.

    This incident reinforces my personal belief that 2/3rds of the people that own firearms probably shouldn’t. YMMV.

  9. I agree 100% with you, either we practice what we know or the credibility is gone!

  10. It’s easy to forget that most people outside this industry form their opinions about guns and gun-handling from pictures of models, and in how they see their use portrayed in movies. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who has yelled “MAG” when the actor says “Clip”, or cringed at fingers on triggers, bad grips and the seemingly endless mag capacity Hollywood thinks no one notices.

    That’s why it’s extra important to me that people who actually know better, do better by modeling good trigger and muzzle discipline every time they pick up a firearm be it unloaded, airsoft or even a blue gun.

    We know you KNOW it’s not loaded, or even a real weapon. The real point is to show others that you understand how important gun safety is, and that there is never an occasion where is shouldn’t be practiced.

  11. Just to clarify– those aren’t pics from Paul Carlson’s website. When I first saw your blog post that had been my first impression. Then I clicked the link to the actual website with the photos of questionable gun handling.

    And posts on negligent discharges are always helpful– they’re a good reminder that we have to stay focused on safe gun handling. “Obsessed”? Not at all. I would say “Dedicated”

    1. You’re right. Paul was commenting on another website. I should have made that more clear. Thank you for the clarification.

    2. Here’s a good example of how bad gun handling can be safely (and explicitly) illustrated. Pictures are worth a thousand words. NSFW

    3. Yeah. I previouslysaw Claude’s post on FB but just saw it here on the blog. I appreciate the clarification that the image in question isn’t mine. Nor is the hand in question mine.

      I would also love to see some research on the number of firearms accidents post SHOT Show. We know for a fact that complacency kills. Look at the stats in SCUBA, mountaineering, flying etc. Those with experience have a greater tendency to make simple mistakes that can lead to serious consequences.

      Here is a post on a favorite example of mine on complacency.

      So, complacency, don’t.


  12. Yikes. Why even bother simulating an act of stupidity, regardless of the potential outcome?

  13. Well said Claude! I honestly don’t even know if I can do SHOT Show. I think it would be OCD firearm safety hell for me. 😉 The thing I think a LOT of people overlook, is the feelings they have when doing these things. I think instilling a sense of unease in people, or at least helping them gain a sense of unease when muzzle sweeping themselves, others, or being in an environment where it’s occurring, can go a long way towards keeping people paying attention to that voice in the back of their head, that they shouldn’t be doing this, or they should remove themselves from that situation. A flinch, a wince, an overpowering feeling of wanting to dive out of the way, or open up your inner “drill instructor” at the offender. Something.

    I would posit that, people that do this sort of thing so casually in environments like this, a gun store, or basically anywhere, likely have never developed any of those feelings of unease when situations become decidedly less safe, or are made so by themselves. That, or they simply have become complacent, made excuses so many times as well as justifications, that they’ve lost that “safety” feeling. 😉

  14. “……. but I see a lot of bad gunhandling by people who should know better.”

    this female officer shooting the restrained suspect is a classic !

    Probably violated a few of the Four Golden rules….maybe not “know your target and what is beyond”. May well have been prepared to destroy the target in her mind.

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