Gun safety is not a device, it is a behavior. In-spite of 1,000 years of human experience with gun powder and related devices, it is still dangerous stuff. We can mitigate the risks, but no matter what kind of technological developments we have applied, guns remain dangerous. How dangerous? That depends on the shooter and how they use a gun.
The latest internet meme concerns a drop test video, before that it was negligent discharges during disassembly and legs shot accidentally. Before the internet, striker guns were unsafe, polymer guns were unsafe, 5.56 wasn’t effective, 9mm wasn’t effective, some bolt action rifle safeties failed and some shotguns had un-clearable jams. Many of the most popular (and least dangerous) guns on the market today were demonized as un-safe at some point. How can this be?
Everybody has their favorite guns. This is natural and good. The problem comes not from loving my gun, but when I hate your gun and say silly mean things about it. Add big dollar government contracts to the mix and there can be some real hard feelings.
It usually looks like this on the internet, “Your gun sucks because it shot when it was dropped on a video and if you bought my gun it was designed to be used as a Hacky Sack and dropped from great heights.” The response goes “Oh yeah, what about your gun leg and all those guys who discharge when cleaning, my gun is new and much better.” We are not accomplishing anything and we certainly aren’t learning anything.
Every design, every gun, has strengths and weakness. A gun with many safety features may provide more confidence to a certain shooter, but those features effect the trigger and speed with which you can shoot which will bother another shooter. I have seen experienced shooters disable factory safety features they deemed were unnecessary in their environment. Recklessness or calculation?
If we want to make a safe gun, it cannot shoot. The magnificent SIRT pistol from Next Level Training is inert, it can not shoot. You can dry fire with complete abandon and flaunt the safety rules because it won’t shoot, even if you drop it just right. If you want a safe gun, buy a SIRT.
If you need a tool to protect yourself, you need a weapon capable of inflicting damage. If it can damage a bad guy, it can damage a good guy. Are guns dangerous? You bet they are, that is what makes them useful. All the “safety” features on guns are trade offs. It is up to the shooter to carry a gun that suits his training and environment to make the situation safe, because the gun, by its nature cannot be safe. Shooters can be safe.
“But the gun has a flaw! There was a law suit…” I am very familiar with a case where a police officer placed a loaded handgun into his waist band without a holster. Not surprisingly, the gun went off damaging key parts of his genitalia. He sued the gun manufacturer because the “un-safe” gun went off in his pants. He didn’t win the law suit, but there was a settlement. This is absurd, but very common. I take all law suits with a grain of salt.
“I saw the video…” Video is very compelling, but it never tells the whole story. It is limited by time and point of view. I don’t say ignore video, but always seek corroboration and complete understanding before jumping to conclusions.
“I read on the internet…” I love the internet and the best output of the best minds on Earth can be found there. Sadly, many people unburdened by intelligence or experience are also free to populate the internet with their musings. Learn the difference.
When a story breaks on the web, give it a few days. If one side cites industrial and military safety standards and the other talks about a video, let things settle and the truth will emerge. If there is a hypothetical problem which has produced no reported injuries, things will work themselves out. Every big company has a battalion of engineers science-ing the shit out of these kind of problems 24/7. Let them work.
Don’t crow if my gun looks bad and don’t get depressed if your gun seems to have a problem. Every gun, every modification, every round of ammo is a compromise between effectiveness and risk of injury. Manufacturers spend much more time on testing than design. They are financially liable and have a moral obligation to protect their customers. I know many people in the gun business and I can tell you I have never met even one who is cavalier about customer safety. They mitigate inherent risks with design.
There are circumstance where safety features on any device will fail. If it were absolutely safe it would be completely useless as a gun. Even where mechanical safeties are redundant, they can under-perform or simply break. We are taught not to count on mechanical devices for safety.
When a weakness is found in an existing design, it is normally corrected by the manufacturer and some program established to fix existing guns. In extreme cases, a safety recall pulls guns in and repairs them. This a positive outcome which is normal and frequent.
Before you chose a gun, get some competent training. Learn about the gun you want and make sure your training and equipment match your application. If you play gun games with after market triggers, that might not be the gun to appendix carry every day. Think before you buy and carry.
If you are afraid you might drop your gun, by all means, buy a gun that has a manual safety, heavy trigger and super redundant features. If you have solid training, experience and equipment, a lighter trigger can be just as safe and allow you a faster reaction time and cleaner first shot. What ever your choice, please don’t tell me why I need to make the same decisions you did.
There are rules to keep shooters and bystanders safe:
Jeff Cooper’s Rules of Gun Safety
RULE I: ALL GUNS ARE ALWAYS LOADED
RULE II: NEVER LET THE MUZZLE COVER ANYTHING YOU ARE NOT WILLING TO DESTROY
RULE III: KEEP YOUR FINGER OFF THE TRIGGER UNTIL YOUR SIGHTS ARE ON THE TARGET
RULE IV: BE SURE OF YOUR TARGET
If you apply these rules, your gun may go off, but no one will be injured. If you don’t have confidence in your ability to operate within these rules, or you feel your gun is unsafe, slowly and carefully unload and lock your gun up, Get some training and/or new guns until you can carry with confidence. There are no safe guns but there are millions of safe shooters. Join us.
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There are some great training vidoes at Next Level Training:
However, those who aren’t deterred by the price tag will find the SIRT a useful training tool to augment live fire training exercises. The resetting trigger allows the user to “fire” the gun without having to action the slide and the shot indicating lasers provide immediate feedback for shot accuracy.
Photo courtesy of Next Level Training.