The Cornered Cat

Q: How many legs would this kitty cat have if we called the tail a leg?

How many legs would this cat have if we called his tail a leg?

 A: Four. Calling the tail a leg does not make it a leg.

What does this have to do with Cornered Cat’s usual subjects, you ask? Simple — I keep running across instructors and would-be instructors who think calling a classroom wall a “safe direction” will actually make it a safe direction.

ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.” — NRA training materials.

A “safe direction” is one that will reliably stop a bullet from the most powerful cartridge that will feed into the gun you’re handling.

Most interior and exterior walls in modern buildings won’t do that. This means they are not safe directions for purposes of dry fire or gun handling.

Does this mean guns should never be handled inside a classroom? Not at all! Any teaching environment can be made safe with some forethought. A big cardboard box full of books and papers makes a fine backstop and costs almost nothing, for example. It just takes some creativity — and a stubborn commitment to keeping students safe — to figure out how to make safety protocols work in different settings.

Unfortunately, too many people are not willing to do that work. They get complacent, or handle the problem with a shrug: “Well, it’s difficult to find a true safe direction, so we’ll just pretend that wall will be okay. That’s good enough for me. No ammo in the classroom anyway, so…”
This tears down the safety rules at the very place where we should be most careful about instilling them. It breeds complacency where we should be building caution and respect. It stops people from thinking clearly at the level where people actually live with the gun, and it wordlessly tells them they should only follow good gun handling rules as long as it’s easy to do so. It models the kind of thinking that says it’s too hard to find practical ways to stay safe in everyday settings. It leads people to only pretend to follow critical safety protocols that are intended to stop them from unintentionally killing other people.

Stay safe. Keep your people safe. Never ‘designate’ a safe direction in a firearms classroom. Find a true safe direction or make one.

Don’t call that tail a leg.  😉

One Response to Designations

  1. larryarnold says:

    “You mean a bullet will go through the wall of a house?”

    I fielded that question, from a gun owner, after a San Antonio news story yesterday about a 5-year-old girl killed, while sleeping in her bed, by a stray bullet from a robbery-gone-wrong.

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