The names change, but the story stays the same.
Ate lunch with a friend a few days ago. My friend let me know she’d had a falling out with an instructor at her local club.
“What happened?” I asked.
The story she told me was hardly new. We’ve all heard the story, or one like it, over the past few years. It seems my friend was in another instructor’s class – inside the classroom, not on the range – while the instructor was demonstrating something with a revolver. In the course of the demonstration, the instructor pointed the gun at my friend and at other students sitting in that same area of the room. My friend objected, and said, “I’m going to go stand over here, on the other side of the classroom, because I don’t like you pointing that gun at me.”
The embarrassed instructor didn’t take it well. She told my friend the following:
- “The gun is unloaded!”
- “We don’t even allow ammunition in the classroom!”
- “You’re being unreasonable – do you really think I would shoot you?”
- “Why are you making such a big deal out of this? The gun is unloaded…”
Let’s do a quick refresher on the Four Rules of Gun Safety, shall we?
- All guns are always loaded. Treat them so!
- Never point the gun at anything you are not willing to destroy.
- Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on target (and you have made the decision to shoot).
- Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.
Now a quick exercise for those following along at home: Was this instructor following all four of the rules? If not, which one(s) did she break when she carelessly allowed an unloaded gun to point at one of her students as she handled it inside her classroom?
By my count, the broken rules include One, Two, and Four – unless the classroom walls were brick or were reinforced with solid material that would definitely stop a bullet. It might have included Three as well, but we can give the instructor the benefit of the doubt on that one. Surely she would not have put her finger on the trigger to demonstrate how the hammer moved, even with an unloaded gun, inside a classroom full of people where there was no solid backstop. Surely not…!
Oh, but I hear some folks saying, not every franchise follows the Four Rules. Okay, for the sake of peace, I’ll concede this much: not everyone approves of the Four Rules, and not every instructor follows them. So maybe I’m being unfair to expect people who do not use that rule set to follow the ideas underneath that rule set.
So let’s look at this incident within the context of the NRA Three Rules instead. After all, that’s the rule set that my friend’s instructor was using when she pointed the gun at her students while she was speaking.
Here are the Three Fundamental Rules of Safe Gun Handling, according to the NRA:
- ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.
- ALWAYS keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
- ALWAYS keep the gun unloaded until ready to use.
In keeping with the NRA’s protocols and preferred style, each rule has the word ALWAYS in full caps. That’s because always means, you know, ALWAYS – no exceptions, no excuses. Each of these rules should be followed all the time, not just some of the time, not just when we feel like it and not just when it’s not too much of a hassle. All the time. That’s the point.
Is there any point at all in having “fundamental” rules we refuse to follow? Or in emphasizing the word ALWAYS when we really mean sometimes?
As I’ve said, this story isn’t a new one. It’s just a minor variant of an old, old story. I’ve left my friend’s name off this post not because she asked for privacy, but simply because her name is legion. She’s not alone! She’s a real person and the story really happened, but I have heard variants of the exact same tale far too many times to count over the past dozen years or so. She’s every woman.
In fact, here’s an illustration of how common the story really is. A few months ago, my friends Jeff and Jenna Meek of Carry On Colorado printed themselves a new company tee shirt for their instructors to wear. They graciously sent one to me. I love it!