Safety is Everyone's Responsibility

Has anyone other than me felt like there was a rash of negligent discharges while gun handling. As the old saying goes, the more you play with fire, the more likely you are to get burned.

Just walk away

That is not to say we should take safety lightly, just the opposite actually. We all need to do our part and recognize unsafe conditions, whether they are on the range or in our everyday life. Trust your instinct on this one, if you are out in town and you see something unsafe for instance someone retrieving their firearm when no threat exists you have options. You can either depart the area or address the issue. Departing the area is a reasonable action, I have visited a few gun stores where I felt unsafe conditions existed. Even when you are shopping for a new firearm, you should still adhere to the safety rules. There are some places that do a much better job regarding safety; they clear the weapon in front of the customer, lay it on a gun mat and then identify a safe direction to point the firearm should the customer wish to mount the pistol. Some places don’t adhere to such safety practices and I would simply walk out, there was nothing there I needed bad enough to be placed in those situations.

Take action

If you cannot remove yourself from the situation then you’re only alternative is to take action. I guess you could do nothing and potentially be a witness to an accident. I don’t think folks want on their conscious the fact they saw some unsafe actions and did nothing about it or didn’t intervene. I’m not saying you get inside people’s personal space and dress them down. It is quite possible they were unaware of the unsafe act or condition they created. Take the time to help them see the issue, inform them of the best practices and remind them they have a duty to return to their family safely. I believe many people who are starting out would appreciate someone taking a moment to explain a safety concern in an effort to help them conduct themselves in a safer manner. If you do it in a respectful and professional manner they should not be offended, maybe a little embarrassed, but that will pass. Their actions or inactions caused you to be concerned enough to bring it up to them, they have to understand the inherent dangers of handling firearms and if they don’t then consider it small price to pay for your own safety.

The snowball effect

Safety is non-negotiable and it is usually not the result of a single issue. It is the culmination of several smaller almost insignificant issues that when added all up equal a mishap. Back in the Navy we use to have “Pre-mishap plans” in place for our training evolutions. I felt it was pretty much common sense, but apparently it wasn’t. The plan outlined the most likely accidents, put in place steps to reduce those accidents and then had a plan for how to deal with the accidents if they occurred. This is how you mitigate risk, you recognize the dangers and you work to reduce or eliminate them. Most of us should know what is safe and unsafe, but sometimes we don’t allow ourselves to see it for one reason or another. I have done somethings unsafe before and I was lucky enough to have good people intervene and set me on the right path. It is something we should all pass down and it should be something we all are open to, even if it hurts our feelings, you need to think of the greater good.

When projectiles are traveling from 900 to 3,000fps there is not a lot of margin for error. Once the bullet leaves the barrel there is no going back.

"Safety is something that happens between your ears, not something you hold in your hands." Col. Jeff Cooper, Author and Father of the Modern Pistol Technique.

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