There is a disturbing trend of attitude within the firearms community in general, rather sort of a fixation within those supposed professionals in shooting sports and, yes, even (some would say especially within) the military and law enforcement.
The attitude in question is… the blasé approach towards firearms safety!
Everybody seems to be in the same boat regarding how beginning shooters need to follow the Safe Firearms Handling Rules. Yet, as one gathers experience, these fall by the wayside with a casual dismissive, as if to say “I haven’t unintentionally shot anybody (yet), so obviously I can relax my position on safety a bit.” Wrong. This is hypocrisy at its worst.
The Safety Rules Always Apply
What is it that we POUND into the minds of beginning shooters?
ALWAYS keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction!
ALWAYS keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot!
ALWAYS keep the firearm unloaded until ready for use!
These are the rules as stated by the National Rifle Association. Some organizations or individuals feel a need to add to these but this sums it up and there are ZERO exceptions to these safety measures!
Arizona Revised Statute 13-105 line 19 defines a firearm as follows: “Firearm” means any loaded or unloaded handgun, pistol, revolver, rifle, shotgun, or other weapon that will or is designed to or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of expanding gases, except that it does not include a firearm in permanently inoperable condition. This means that a firearm that is even temporarily disabled (e.g., has the firing pin removed so as not to fire) is considered a firearm under Arizona law.
It is a crime in Arizona to point a firearm at somebody without justification (meaning to protect yourself or a third party from criminal use of physical or deadly physical force).
What does this mean for safety? It means that when you are so relaxed as to be passing the muzzle of your firearm past everybody within range of that projectile…should you pull the trigger on the firearm…you are guilty of reckless endangerment.
Yes, things happen; you’ve been on the range for five hours in 110° heat, you’re out of water and tired. Unintentionally you sweep three people with the muzzle of your pistol.
Safety Is Everyone’s Job
HERE is where the real issue is found. As safety is EVERYBODY’S job (speak it out loud: SAFETY IS EVERYBODY’S JOB), and someone has an objection to having a firearm pointed at them, the offender is reminded to keep the firearm pointed “downrange/safe direction/away from me”.
Say “Thank-you for the reminder, I’m sorry!” But to the chagrin of those looking down the apparently much larger receiving end of the bore, many “experts” feel above this simple rebuke.
Instead one of many ignorant phrases comes out of their mouth.
“No I didn’t point it at you,” as they are repositioning the muzzle downrange. Yes…yes you did. Jerk.
“My finger was off the trigger,” as they turn the firearm to show you their finger placement.
“It’s okay…the magazine is out,” as they rotate the firearm to show you an empty magazine well.
As a Range Safety Officer on a very active range, the ONLY acceptable response to a safety reminded is “I’m sorry! Thank-you!” Or a variation on a respectful apology.
If anyone of the excuses roll out of your mouth after ANYBODY reminds you to keep it safely pointed in a safe direction, you are done. Get off my range. Do not come back. YOU are part of the problem!
Be a True Professional
As mentioned at the beginning of this long-winded rant, the WORST offenders are those who should know better: professionals. Competition shooters, law enforcement, and military members. You should be providing the example, every time and all the time. Do not encourage people with a smarmy “Do as I tell you, not as I do” attitude.
Be the professional you want to be seen in the public’s image…not the hypocrite.