Safe Gun Handling
Updated: Jun 15
How do we handle this object, in our particular environment and situation to reduce the chance of a really bad event occurring?
People are animate about following "the" gun safety rules. This is much more difficult than how it is usually communicated. To start with, what does that even mean? Are we talking about the NRA's 3 rules or Cooper's 4 rules? One of my favorites are Eddie's Eagle's, "Stop! Don't touch! Leave the area! Tell an adult!" What about when I am in a closed range compared to an open range, or at my house?
Understanding the bigger context is that the essence of what we are trying to do is handle an object at both a conscious and subconscious level that needs to be treated as if it can create serious bodily injury or death.
First thing we need to do, is realize the seriousness of what we are doing when we handle a firearm. It is a life and death risk every time we handle one. There is a saying that, "complacency kills," and this is even more so true when handling firearms. At first, many have a deep respect for the lethality of them. As time passes and familiarity grows, we can easily fall into a comfort level with them. Even as we gain more knowledge on their operations, we never, let me repeat, never want to reduce the level of respect for what this machine can do.
It's not just how we handle the firearm and where we point it(as if that is always a conscious choice anyway). That is the rule right? It involves the relationship with the input from our senses, our brain processing that information, our brain on both a conscious and subconscious level responding to inputs, where our hips and upper body orient, whether they do so separately or independently, how and where our fingers move and, yes, where we move our hand with the firearm. This is where the battle of our conscious and subconscious dwells on a moment-by-moment basis.
There have been times I have walked with a drink in my hand and moved around and, unintentionally, spilled the drink. I knew it was in my hand. I knew the risk with carrying it. I knew what would happen if I didn't keep focused on me holding the drink, and yet here I was on my knees, using paper towels to wipe up the floor. Don't get me started on trying to find my glasses already on my head or the car keys in my other hand. I'm hopeless.
This is because how we handle a firearm it goes against all of the other ways in which we use our hands in our daily life. We are told to "keep the finger off the trigger" as we index our finger high on the firearm and out of the trigger guard. It goes against every thing that we do on a daily basis. Every day we encounter objects that we grasp. Our fingers all work as a group as we do so. Door handles, base ball bats, steering wheels, a hammer, a drink glass and the list goes on.
The author using a daily object to grip. Notice that lack of indexing.
One of the best ways to help overcome all of the other grasping tendencies our bodies have is to use the same grip every time we handle the firearm. I am not going to get into specifics on a proper fire arm grip here, but will focus more on consistency. Whatever I am doing with the firearm, it will get the same grip every time. (We can practice this with other similar objects that involve a grip and using a trigger. At the gas pump? Window cleaner-(index before you Windex!) From firing the gun, to grabbing it off the night stand, out of the case or loading a magazine, the grip will be the same.
Why does it matter?
Because every time I handle the firearm, my mind is recording that process; how the hand is shaped, where it is in relation to your body and where every finger is placed in relation to what it is holding. If it is the same every time, your mind has only one option to choose from. If you grasp it differently every time, your mind has different options based on the situations. If I am not mentally focused at the time or if I am in a stressful event where I am mentally focused on other processes, than my mind might pick option c instead of option a. We want to reduce the chance of that from happening. It is already predisposed to grip it with a complete disregard to isolating our trigger finger as we do this dozens upon dozens of times a day with all of the objects we grasp throughout the day.
Having watched only the first two seasons, I only know this as some guy
on The Walking Dead. Our hands natural desire to grip is a thing.
One more thing. One of the easiest ways to reduce our risk is to reduce unnecessary gun handling. This is the easiest part that we can control. Keep your firearm in a holster. If I need to lock it up, keep it in the holster. Using the bathroom? Yep, keep it in the holster. Reduce the amount of interaction with it as much as possible.
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