Always Loaded

by
posted on February 18, 2014
wiley-clapp.jpg (1)

There’s an obvious need for care in the handling of pistols and revolvers. Nobody disagrees with this premise. Ignorance, inattention, apathy or just plain human error sadly results in tragedies every year. Naturally, there are training programs to address the issues associated with learning safe gun handling.

Everybody who sets about organizing such a program wants to make safety rules so positive, so certain and so profound that there is little chance that they will ever be violated. In the course of all this effort, some gun educators are actually complicating the learning process.

I read a new set of rules recently and had to pause at the first line. It stated, “Treat every gun as though it was loaded, until verified otherwise.” What happens at that point? Is it then OK to point the gun at other people? After all, you have verified that the gun is unloaded, so it is no longer dangerous. The point is that the instruction is not well phrased and implies there are two different sets of gun-handling rules-one for loaded guns, another for unloaded ones. It should be obvious that this is not true. It also flies in the face of human experience, which tells us that simple, straightforward rules that are easily understood are more likely to be obeyed. This is true even with sophisticated, educated people. There is not much equivocation in an eight-sided red sign that says “STOP.”

That is why I prefer to use the simple statement that is Rule No. 1 in Jeff Cooper’s set of four. The late Col. Cooper put it this way: “All guns are always loaded.” Critics have questioned this rule on the grounds that it isn’t directive. It doesn’t tell you to do something-or even refrain from doing something. But it does state a condition of awareness. If it is a gun, it is loaded. Loaded when you just checked it, loaded right after you removed it from your holster and no one else touched it, loaded when taken from a safe where it has been stored for years-always, always loaded. All the specifics of where the muzzle is pointed and where your trigger is placed and how you fire it-all flow from the firm understanding that the gun is loaded. How simple can you get?

Latest

Review Heritage Roscoe
Review Heritage Roscoe

Review: Heritage Mfg. Roscoe

Heritage Mfg. is known for its line of Old West-style firearms, but with its new Roscoe revolver, based on Taurus' Model 85, the brand steps into the world of old-school detective work.

New For 2024: Hi-Point Firearms YC380

Hi-Point Firearms is expanding its next-generation "YEET Cannon" line of firearms with YC380 chambered for .380 ACP.

Preview: Winchester Gun Cabinet 18

Steel cabinets like the Winchester Safes GC18 bridge the gap between old wooden gun cabinets that take only seconds for a motivated thief to break into and huge safes that require heavy equipment to move, while also being relatively economical.

The Armed Citizen® July 19, 2024

Read today's "The Armed Citizen" entry for real stories of law-abiding citizens, past and present, who used their firearms to save lives.

Gun Of The Week: Military Armament Corp. MAC 2 Tactical Wood

Watch American Rifleman editors on the range to learn about the MAC 2 Tactical Wood, a semi-automatic shotgun from Military Armament Corporation.

The Flintlock Pocket Pistol: Georgian England's Micro-Compact

The concept of concealed carry is not a modern phenomenon, as evidenced by these flintlock "turn-off" pocket pistols, which were hugely popular at the end of the 18th century.

Interests



Get the best of American Rifleman delivered to your inbox.