By James Reddick
Special to GUIDON
I have a muzzle magnet. As best as I can tell, it’s located just in front of my navel.
Firearm muzzles just seem to swing mindlessly toward it whenever I’m in or near a group of shooters. When a shooter carelessly points a muzzle at me, I immediately say something and they usually get upset that I implied they handled their weapon unsafely.
Try this yourself. On the range, stay aware and notice how many other people point guns at you. Controlling the muzzle of your firearm is an “always” requirement, so it doesn’t matter if it’s on duty or off duty.
A negligent discharge will result in the least damage when the muzzle is pointed in the safest direction possible. If you witness someone mishandling a weapon, speak up! And stay cool when someone reminds you to control your muzzle.
If you don’t want your gun to fire, don’t have your finger on the trigger.
“The safety is on,” is an excuse that covers the gamut of firearm handling sins. That excuse doesn’t give me a warm, fuzzy feeling.
Remember, one sensible action doesn’t negate the foolish ones. I don’t really trust mechanical safeties. I use them religiously, though, because they work most of the time.
Being somewhat of an oddball, I read directions. I know how to operate my firearms — how to disassemble them, clean them and reassemble them. I practice doing those things and I keep the muzzle pointed safely while doing so. When I get to the range or a hunting area, I know I can load and use my firearm safely. How many tries did it take you to figure out what that little metal tab did on your Benelli? All of that handy information is in the instruction booklet.
My guns are unloaded when they’re not in use. It’s easy to load them when needed. Do you need guns loaded and ready in combat? Yes, indeed. How about when you’re on the firing line at the range? Certainly.
Do you need it loaded when the pistol is bouncing around under the seat of the pickup, when the shotgun is in the closet, or when the rifle is next to the bed? You decide.
You have to make that decision based upon your personal situation and the amount of risk you can accept.
However, jurors may have a different viewpoint and so will the cops, your spouse and mom. You need to practice loading quickly and safely so it becomes a skill you can count on.
There is no booze around when I’m shooting. This, too, is an always rule. Yes, beer is also booze. Shoot completely sober, then put the guns away, relax and enjoy your beverage of choice.
Some may want to carry a concealed handgun as I have done for more than 30 years. Concealed carry of firearms for self-protection is more prevalent today than ever; 49 of 50 states currently allow concealed carry in some manner.
I offer this advice: Before you accept the risks and responsibilities that accrue with concealed carry, find a good defense lawyer, knowledgeable law enforcement officer and local prosecutor to discuss your responsibilities and the likely repercussions from actually using that firearm.
Military installations do not allow concealed carry, so don’t even think about it.
I’ve found that the best way to reinforce safe gun handling skills is to shoot. There are competitive events for almost every shooting interest.
Our Army marksmanship unit competes, and so can you. Newbies are always welcome. Get out there and make some noise.
(Editor’s note: This article orginially appeared on the U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center’s website.)