The Right to Stupidity vs Our Right to Bear Arms
So I just ran across this article about a police officer who “accidentally” shot himself in the foot while attaching a tactical light to his Glock 19c at a shooting range. This individual is currently seeking $75,000 in damages for what I personally would consider an act of individual stupidity. I really encourage you to read the full story at Guns.com.
HEY Wait… get back here… I am not finished.
Okay, where was I, oh yeah… Stupidity. Now I am a firm believer in everyone’s right to idiocy, whether it is a momentary lapse or just shitty judgement, I just do not believe that anyone else should have to pay for it. As owners of firearms, we have to exclude ourselves from such errors when it comes to firearms. We rally behind our rights, but one idiot who feels that they are better than the basic rules we should all have indelibly etched into our memories, screws up; we are as a group looked at. So let’s be clear, everybody who participates in shooting sports should be crystal clear when it comes to the four basic rules of firearms safety
1. Treat all weapons as if they are loaded at all times
2. Never point the weapon’s muzzle at anything you do not want to destroy
3. Keep your finger away from the trigger until your sights are aligned and you are ready to fire (or as I prefer booger hooks off the boom switch)
4. Know your line of fire: understand your target, the area around it and what is beyond it.
Let’s face it, someone who manages to unintentionally discharge a pistol and hit their own foot while working on the gun is pretty much ignoring all 4 of those rules. Something that by sitting down with the Glock INSTRUCTIONS FOR USE booklet (yes, I have the booklet in front of me; and yes, pages 2 and 3 hit every one of those points and more) could have saved this guys foot, and kept all gun owners from looking like a bunch of trigger happy yahoos.
So lets just agree that we need to agree on a fifth rule:
5. Understand how your weapon functions. Read the Manual.
No, I am not saying you need to be a gunsmith and cite manufacturers part numbers in your sleep. But you should at least be able to safety check a weapon; load and unload it; and know how to safely use the weapon. You know, just handle the gun with the respect it deserves. Unfortunately, this is not the case. We have all seen the bullet marked dividers at the range, witnessed someone fumbling through loading a firearm, or jamming up a weapon that obviously needs cleaning. YouTube is full of examples. Yeah think about it, you have your horrific range story (please post it in the comments), here are a couple of my fav’s:
- Watching someone open the cylinder on a Smith and Wesson revolver when they thought they were turning on the laser. Perfect for a self defense situation.
- Having to be pulled from my range lane by my wife when two guys with a brand new Remington 1911 could not understand how to clear a misfeed. This meant they decided to turn the gun in every direction; including looking down the barrel. We do not need to prove that Darwin was right.
- The guys trying to prove how manly they were by taking selfies on the range with a loaded Gold Desert Eagle!
The list goes on, and in most cases it can be tracked back to new gun owners putting less time into understanding their firearms than they would a new coffee maker. Maybe I am jaded (and a bit anal retentive) because in Illinois we have mandatory waiting periods for weapons (24 hours for long guns, 72 hours for handguns) and I spend that time online devouring every scrap of pertinent information I can before I pick up the weapon. Hell, if it is something I have been considering purchasing, I probably have read the owners manual, watched fifteen YouTube reviews, watched a detailed video on take-down of the weapon, and shopped over $1,000 dollars of add-ons to bling out the gun. Yeah, I am weird that way, but when it comes time to pick up the gun, I want to be able to use it safely.
This is one of those moments we need to reflect on ourselves as a group and ask, who is more likely to injure themselves; the first time gunbuyer who channels their lack of experience into understanding the weapon in detail, or the grizzled veteran shooter of 25 years who does not think the mechanics of a new purchase hold any mysteries to him? My personal opinion is that while the first may not be able to hit the broadside of a barn, they probably have the gun pointed towards the barn and are treating it with respect. With the second, he may be able to place a 2 inch group on said barn, but familiarity breeds contempt, as they say, and they try attaching a taclite with a round in the chamber. As our experience grows it does not excuse us from remembering the basics, and passing that along to the next generation of shooting enthusiasts.
Okay, gotta run and check the perimeter for zombies…
What are your thoughts? Add them in the comments!
Don’t be stupid!