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Death & Safety

I have been pretty lucky over the years to have had the pleasure of meeting some amazing people. I was saddened to learn the loss of a friend and student recently.

Not As Bright

I am constantly reminded how short and fragile our lives are on this tiny blue planet. You can do everything right and still be hit by a drunk driver, be the subject of a medical malpractice or die accidentally. It is hard to cope with the loose. There really are no simple ways to get through grief. There is only the realization the world is a little less bright without these people in our lives. After loosing a close friend of mine several years ago, I vowed I would make it a part of me to communicate my gratitude, my appreciation for those who have come into my life. To let them know they had an impact on my life. It is one of my prouder moments. I enjoy sitting down to pen and paper, sharing a few memories.

Ground Rush

When it comes to gun handling there is the critical understanding of the lethality of guns. How they are simply a machine, willed to action by the human behind the trigger. I feel it is important to review why we have safety rules in place. While we can never eliminate the danger of a gun, it is our responsibility to manage it and will it to do our biding. Complacency is a killer, it is ninja like how it entangles in our lives. We take so many things for granted, often times going through the motions. I can remember watching a video prior to my first free-fall jump so many years ago. We watched in amazement these jumpers performing all manner of jumps. I can remember the rush of knowing shortly I would be doing that, doing all those cool moves. Then the awkward feeling something should have happened by now, realizing the ground is rushing up. Making out objects on the ground as it speeds into your view and then nothing.

Recognize Danger

We were told the video was from an experienced sky diver, someone with more jumps than most can ever hope to achieve. They had decided to skip the last jump of the day, but were talked back into filming the exit only. As the familiarity of the jump takes hold and the jumpers prepare to exit so too does our cameraman…without a parachute. Choosing to film the exit only, he had left his parachute on the ground. While we were briefed on the multitude of failures that day, the glaring point to me was how comfortable we can become with danger. Years later I would be dressed down by a mentor for not recognizing danger. Placing myself and a teammate in grave danger as a result. I have strived to improve my ability to recognize danger. For new shooters we express upon them the importance of understanding the gun does not care. It is an emotionless, thoughtless piece of engineering.

Respect and Humility

When you are handling firearms never presume to above reproach. Above error. That bullet does not care. Instead, approach firearms handling with respect and humility. Recognize and admit you are fallible and can make a mistake so put in place steps to help you minimize those chances. Realize the intention of the safety rules is to work together, in an overlapping nature. That should one rule be broken, the hope is the others will survive to safeguard your actions. Live by these rules everyday, whether you handle firearms daily or not. Make it a point to review the rules and hold yourself accountable to living them and set the example for other to follow.

In the end, that is the best we can hope for, that we set the example for others to follow. That we live each day knowing how fragile it is and how we must act to protect life.

Dispassionate Trigger Pulling

In the defensive shooting world we are trying to do two things. Teach responsible gun owners how to defend against a violent encounter with a handgun and improve their critical shooting skills.

Ticking Time Bomb

I have gotten more and more patient over the years, believe me it shocks me just as much. However, there are instances where I will loose it in an instant. Watching someone dispassionately pulling the trigger is one of those instances. Using a handgun in a deadly force encounter is no laughing matter, not something to be taken lightly. You have to prepare yourself mentally for the violent encounter. You make major life choices about taking another human’s life to protect life. You expends your resources at training in the hopes of never having to use your skills.

The Final Option

When I watch someone do a half ass job of unloading their handgun then almost without thinking point it down and pull the trigger it is as if they have forgotten an important point. When you pull the trigger, every time you pull the trigger, it is because you have no other option. You have either exhausted all options or you didn’t have an option from the beginning. The level of commitment towards defending your life is not easy, nor should it be taken lightly. It should not be something with a cavalier attitude. When you diminish the importance of a rule or value, you weaken its effectiveness. It is not difficult to see why carelessness sneaks into gun handling when we start to place less emphasize on safety.

What Really Happens

What could be some reasons one would blindly pull the trigger after unloading? A common retort is to relief pressure on the striker. By de-energizing the striker spring there is this belief you are increasing the longevity. If you were planning on a long term storage there could be an argument made. I would caveat long term measured in decades. If you are not storing the handgun for that length of time then it is worthless. The problem is not so much in the action, but the habit it forms. Students would unload in class to accomplish an administrative task. Maybe changing out holsters or cover garments. Or maybe, taking a break or to set up a drill with an empty chamber. My point, is the duration is in no way going to help relieve pressure. We are talking minutes before we charge them back up and start shooting again.

Safety First

In the off chance the student doesn’t recognize the carelessness of this act it is one thing. To do it knowingly is something completely different. The amount of times of occurrence in a training class can create the environment this action becomes a habit. It becomes a part of your daily handling of firearms and starts to diminish the importance of safety. Safety rules such as all guns are always loaded loose their effectiveness. The monumental challenge of preparing for a deadly force encounter means you are pulling the trigger with the express intention of defending life. Don’t diminish this act.

To take this simple act and diminish it to the point it looses its effectiveness is a mistake. There is no value, but so much more at stake

Author: Jeff Gonzales