The Cornered Cat

Tragic and avoidable situation in the news: during a CCW class, a student fired a gun through a classroom wall, killing the gun shop owner on the other side of the wall.

From the 911 transcript: “We were doing malfunction misfires and we have plastic bullets and we just, I just, we just double-checked the bullets and there was a live round in one of the guns and it went through the wall and shot the owner in the neck.”

This week, the instructors in that class were indicted — one of them for Reckless Homicide, and the other for Negligent Homicide.

So here we go again with a huge chorus of instructor voices online, yelling “NO AMMO IN THE CLASSROOM!” as though that would have prevented this tragedy. It would not. Relying on a single point of failure would not, did not, and could not stop this sort of tragedy from happening.

The No-Ammo rule is supposed to be an extra, additional, utterly redundant layer of safety, not a replacement for any one of the core safety rules.

This man could not have died if the core safety rules were being followed. Since these were NRA-certified trainers, here is the first of the safety rules that should have been taught and respected inside that classroom.

NRA rule: “ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.”

Not sometimes. Not if it’s not too hard, too inconvenient, too much of a hassle. Always.

Safe gunhandling within the core safety rules includes using a safe direction that definitely will stop a bullet from the most powerful cartridge the firearm is able to launch.

When the No-Ammo rule is treated as a replacement for safe gunhandling procedures, it actually *reduces* overall safety. That’s because it flattens the multi-layered core safety rules down to a single point of potential failure: “Oh, it’s okay, the gun’s not loaded.”

As if no human being has ever made a mistake when they checked the loaded or unloaded status of the gun. Of course people have! That’s been a known, common, utterly predictable point of failure on the safety front for years upon untold years — and it’s exactly why the safety rules overlap, are redundant, and sometimes seem a bit ridiculous. “Why are you being so careful? The gun’s not loaded!”

More people have been killed unintentially and tragically with “unloaded” guns than have ever been unintentionally killed by guns known to be loaded. That’s because all too many people have two different sets of gunhandling procedures in their heads: a careful, rules-following one for “loaded” guns, and a very lazy and laid back one for “unloaded” ones.

Don’t treat “No ammo in the classroom” as a magic incantation that can replace the core safety rules. Don’t use it instead of the core safety rules. Follow the rules even when they seem redundant. Follow them *BECAUSE* they are redundant. That redundancy is our backup for when we turn out to be human after all.

Creating a safe gunhandling environment before anyone touches a gun — inside the classroom or out — is one of the primary responsibilities of the instructor.

Any “instructor” who thinks it’s “too much work” to find or create a truly safe direction for gunhandling in their classes is not doing the job of an instructor, and should be fired.

2 Responses to Always

  1. larryarnold says:

    Or “The Responsibility of the People to keep the Gun Pointed in a Safe Direction Shall Not Be Infringed.”

  2. Douglas says:

    this goes along with the recent story of a police instructor who killed a 73 year old lady. because he thought the gun was unloaded. and he pointed it at her. and she let hiim do this. do not point a gun at someone you don’t want to shoot. that’s not a safe direction. this also points out that even people who don’t own a gun need to know the 4 basic gun safety rules. so they can stop someone else from doing something stupid or tragic.

    1. treat all guns as loaded
    2. keep guns pointed in a safe direction at all times
    3. keep your finger off the trigger until ready to fire
    4. know your target and what is beyond.

    a 73 year old lady is not a safe direction.

    don’t let anyone point a gun at you. even if it is ‘unloaded’.

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