The great thing about having a phone with a camera is that you can capture asshattey wherever you go. Take for example, this picture I snapped at my local gun shop. Yes Virginia, that is a gentleman holding some manner of polymer gun with his finger firmly resting on the trigger. And there it stayed for most of his conversation with the guy behind the counter. Sometimes when he got a bit excited about this or that, he’d wave the gun around lasering everyone to his right. Slide closed. Finger firmly on the trigger. . .

And shortly thereafter, I watched one of the sales guys scratch his head with the barrel of a brand new Springfield 1911. At least he managed to keep his finger off the trigger while doing it.

So here’s a question for you: what do you do when someone acts a fool with a gun? A tap on the shoulder? Some less than pleasant words? A firm jab to the chin? Or do you do as I do, and vacate the area?

45 Responses to Question of the Day: How Do You Handle Safety Violations?

  1. Probably most effective is a FIRM reminder -whether you are engaged in conversation with them or not – to remove the finger, kept it pointed down and away or better yet demand they holster the weapon to anyone who can’t exercise basic common sense.

  2. Somewhere like a gun store or gun show? Usually I just suck it up and attempt to ignore it, I might walk away if it’s bad enough. Let’s face it, at a gun show you’re probably going to end up getting muzzled left and right no matter what you do. If that bothers you, you may want to consider not even going…

    If you’re handling my guns, whether at my house or at the range? Profanity and confiscation of the gun.

    • This.

      There’s a certain amount of being muzzled I’ll accept at a gun show, and a much lower level I’ll accept at a gun store or the range.

      At a gun show, I recognize that no matter what I do, I’ll be muzzled, so I generally don’t fight it. The only thing that potentially changes this is if someone is *intentionally* aiming at me.

      At a gun store, generally the building is setup such that it’s easy to avoid muzzle-sweeping someone if you maintain situational awareness; Generally if someone does something accidentally I’ll let it go unless it becomes clear that it requires correction, at which point a polite “I’d appreciate if you didn’t muzzle me — it makes me nervous” generally corrects the issue.

      At the range the general policy amongst those I go shooting with is to inform the offender; Since we generally go shooting when the range is deserted (weekdays) it generally isn’t an issue — a simple “hey dude, watch your muzzle” has always sufficed.

  3. If you leave the area every time you see a safety violation, you can’t go into gun shops because every new gun buyer does some iteration of exactly what you addressed in your post. What do I do? I only shop a gun stores that I know safety check each gun BEFORE handing them over to the customer. That way, I have a high degree of certainty that the thing is unloaded.

    • Good point, but nonetheless, i would probably give them my two cents while i was there(if the sales guy did not notice) and if they ignored me i just walk away… but like you said, if i feel the sales guys generally do a good job of clearing the weapons, and is in front of the customer, he should be active in helping the buyer keep good gun handling etiquette.

  4. Finger off the trigger is important no matter where you are. There have been unintentional discharges in gun shops. I personally know of two. ALL guns are Allways loaded until you have physically determined that they are not. All the time every time. There is no such thing as ‘Oppps, I’m sorry’ when it comes to firearms.

  5. I do my visual browsing of the case 12″ away from the counter and behind other customers,so if the day comes that I witness a negligent discharge from such people the errant round will pass in front of me and not into me.

    I then only approach the counter when I’m either the only one there or the other customers are not handling firearms .

  6. Unlike the safety as a religion people, the situation dictates my response. In a gun store or at a show, with a gun that has a tag on it? Virtually no chance of it being live, so I generally ignore it.

    At the range or with a weapon I don’t know the state of, I’ll inform the offender, loudly, to watch his or her muzzle.

  7. Don’t come to Chicago, last time I went out, I had the RO muzzling me with a rifle. I can’t load a magazine behind the firing line, but they get to do whatever they want.

  8. “Hey Pal, don’t forget Rule #1” or something that is a friendly reminder.

    For the record, if anyone sees me making a mistake like that, dope-smack to the back of the head is hereby authorized.

    • Precisely.

      When I go to the range with my shooting buddies, I say something when I see one of them do something unsafe, and I FULLY expect them to do the same to me.

  9. when at a store if I’m lasered i will move out-of-the-way in a noticeable fashion when the gun buyer looks to see why I’m moving in such a way i politely say to them that i don’t like guns being pointed at me loaded or unloaded that usually gets their attention and i next see them usually taking their finger off the trigger and/or point the gun at a wall……humm I wonder whats on the other side of that wall??

  10. I haven’t seen a lot of asshattery in the stores that I frequent. Maybe I haven’t been there on a bad day.

    To be perfectly frank, when the action is open on a handgun, I’m less concerned about where the muzzle is pointing or whether there’s a finger on the trigger. With the cylinder swung out or the slide locked back, I can tell that the gun is safe, unloaded and has been momentarily turned into a paperweight. That’s called “showing clear,” and it’s perfectly acceptible to me.

    The instant that the action is closed, there’s been a change of state and I no longer accept that the gun is “clear.” Any change of state requires another check, and so on.

    The situation is dicier with rifles. It’s more difficult for an observer to tell if the action is open. Semi-autos are the worst because they can only show clear from the left side, and close up. Sure, I can see the position of the safety switch, but I don’t trust safeties and neither should anyone else.

  11. I had a Guy at my lgs aim the gun I wanted to see right at me yesterday, wothout checking the chamber. Guess he expected me to take the gun by the muzzle.

  12. I usually try to let the person know what they are doing wrong ask kindly as possible. No one wants to be embarrassed and usually its someone new to guns. Dont want to scare them off from the community. One time I did have a young kid point a loaded 12 gauge at my head while dove hunting and almost blew me away. Lost it on that kid, didn’t care if he left the community.

  13. I usually like some variation of, “If you keep pointing guns at me it’s gonna be hard for us to stay friends.”

    I once had a lady at a counter point a revolver at my ribs and start snapping the trigger. I stepped back and polity suggested she invest in a safety class before buying a gun.

    Another time a recent American pointed a .22 MP5 clone at a big guy wearing a hunting jacket and said “See I can empty this in your chest hahahahha,” then made dodododdo gun noises. The big guy was clearly not an associate of the gentleman. I had to step between them before the hunter torn the guy in half.

    There is a hole in he wall at one of out local shops form a woman who was showing off her new bra holster.

    Besides being a safety violation, it’s rude.

  14. If I get swipped, etc, I will usually confront them by saying: “hey, Since I can tell you are new to this hobby, let me give you a few safety pointers that will help us both alive. **** ” Its a hard line for them to come back on, because if they protest their lack of perceived inexperience in any way, you can reply “then you should know better, etc.”

  15. I think you pompous, self-righteous safety nazis need to calm the freak down. If the guy had been handed a firearm with a loaded magazine, or if the weapon was loaded, then you would be justified in having a major hissy fit. But everytime I’ve been in a gun shop and watched a customer be handed a firearm, the firarm is clearly empty, no rounds in chamber, no magazine, no ammo anywhere and the salesman behind the counter has very demonstrably safety checked it to confirm it is empty.

    So, lighten up Francis.

    • What if it isnt? Ever seen an “Unloaded” gun go off? I have. Three times. I wana hear you talk about saftey nazis after some one flags you with a loaded .45 and then drops the hammer on it and puts a damn hole in the wall three feet away from you.

      If you follow at least one of the weapon saftey rules at a time, everyone goes home O.K. If you dont…Well, thats on you.

    • You make some fine points Amsdorf, but NAZI’S are lowlife scum who murdered millions of innocent people. No one who cares about safety deserves to be compared to these murderers. I’ve been known call to certain states and people no good COMMIES, but when I do it’s always true.

    • “or if the weapon was loaded…”

      What do you mean by “if”? ALL weapons are loaded, remember? Look, I don’t like the “Safety Sallies” any more than you do, but if I get swiped, somebody F**ked up. I think that anything less than punching the dude in the face is showing considerable restraint. When I was 16, a dumb kid pointed a .22 at my head and pulled the trigger. I beat him to a pulp. His mom got mad at me until I told her what had happened, at which time decided that he had deserved the crunchy beating.

  16. I kindly remind my customers that they are responsible for their saftey. Everyone is an RSO. And if they leave with more holes than they came into my shop with, i’m not going to clean it up, and that the fancy medkit I have thats full of quick clot and other gear…Well, thats for ME if I get shot.

  17. I stay away from gun stores because we all know they keep their weapons in their gun cases loaded, chambered, with the safeties off so customers can live fire them, right at the counter.

  18. I walked into a gunshop/range and se a man in a wheelchair holding a Rossi 357 revolver. He was with another person who was explaining he had a problem with the gun’s trigger. The wheelchair man kept working the broken gun, cocking it and pulling the trigger, and the cylinder would revolve part way or not. He kept doing this while I was standing next to him waiting for a lane to shoot at.

    I looked at him, he looked at me, and I said “would you mind not working that gun while we are standing here?”. His reply” It’s not loaded, don’t worry about it, it’s broken anyway.”
    I told him if he wanted to play with his toy he should do it at home. I looked at the counter guy and told him he needed to take that broken gun over the counter before something bad happens.
    The wheelchair guy asks me what I meant by that. I told him he was threatening the safety of everyone around him and the owner of the building was at risk of a accidental shooting. The man with wheelchair man takes the gun from his hand and places it on the counter where the clerk quickly scoops it up.

    “Happy now” says this ignorant person. “Yes, and safer too.” I replied.

  19. The two main ranges I go to are open to the public and we get a ton of newbies who’ve never shot any type of firearm EVER. Our RSO’s are very strict and make no exceptions to any safety violations because the last thing they need is a customer taken off the range in a bodybag. Whenever I notice someone handle any firearm in an unsafe manner, I’ll politely tell them what they did wrong and I always try to be extra friendly while doing so. I never try to be a smartass because I don’t want to piss them off and have them shoot me, and they most likely didn’t even notice that they did something wrong. I’ve also never had a single person give me attitude after I pointed out a safety violation because I never try to make them look foolish. The NRA has the four main safety rules for a reason, and the last thing any of us wants to hear is “I’M SORRY I DIDN’T KNOW THE GUN WAS LOADED”.

    • The NRA has 3 “basic” safety rules. 1. Keep the gun pointed in a safe direction, 2. keep your finger off the trigger, and 3. keep guns unloaded until ready to use. Jeff Cooper created the 4 basic rules, which are different, and he had to back off on “all guns are loaded all the time” by adding “and even if they aren’t, you treat them that way.”

      It’s not that Cooper was wrong, though. Gunsight was a “hot range,” where all guns were actually loaded all the time.

      • “all guns are loaded all the time” by adding “and even if they aren’t, you treat them that way.”

        My best recommendation. I had some good friends who became less than good friends over that one.

  20. Just leave people alone. It’s a retail establishment, not a range, and they have procedures in place to make sure that the guns aren’t loaded. They certainly don’t want some pest harassing their customers. If someone’s behavior really bothers you, tell the staff, but leave their patrons alone.

    • they have procedures in place to make sure that the guns aren’t loaded.

      They should and most do, but when sellers bring consignment guns into the shop for the first time, the staff hasn’t had possession of the guns to make them safe.

      When guns are taken out of the display cases at the guns stores I frequent, I know they’re safe. That little tag tells me all I need to know. But when a gun comes out of a customer’s case, box or pocket, I expect that it’s loaded until the store staff makes it safe.

      When I dry fire in the gun store (after getting permission, naturally), I still check the chamber. I don’t care where the gun came from, I’m checking it.

      • It’s easy and basic. If I pick up a weapon at a store or gun show, I clear it (gun shows often have the action zip tied, so no worries). If someone hands me a weapon, I clear it. I never hand a weapon to someone without clearing it first, even if I already cleared it 30 seconds before.

  21. So here’s a question for you: what do you do when someone acts a fool with a gun? A tap on the shoulder? Some less than pleasant words? A firm jab to the chin? Or do you do as I do, and vacate the area?

    GTFO!

    • I shoot them.

      No, I’m kidding. I talk to them, gently. With a smile. Yelling, pushing or throwing one’s weight around usually makes things worse. Learning how to address people respectfully to correct mistakes was the single most important part of my instructor training, and it works.

  22. Generally I gently correct the person the first time. This goes, “Sir, please keep that pointed away from any and everyone and in a safe direction, and please keep your finger away from the trigger. Treat it like it’s loaded.” Or something along those lines.
    The second time………..it’s more like, “GTFO!”
    If I were on a public range I’d tell them politely what’s what the first time….If they ignore that me and anyone I brought with me is leaving. If it’s there’s a safety officer or a range officer I’m complaining to them. It sounds lame but I’d rather piss people off then find out that they or someone else got hurt or killed after I left due to someone else’s dumbassery..

    • Wouldn’t most people react badly to that unsolicited advice? Isn’t that why most of the commenters have the habit of just leaving the area?

      Let’s face it, you guys are not very good at policing each other. Then you wonder why people like me blame you, all of you, for the problems.

      • And you blame people who are trying to enforce safety why?
        I’m polite about telling people to be responsible, and thus far I haven’t had to leave a range because of someone else yet. As gruff as I made my comment out to be I’ve never had to raise my voice at another shooter.

        If I don’t own the range and they don’t want to listen to me what more is there to do if there’s no safety official to report them too?

  23. Yesterday I went to a gun show in Miami, FL. At one table the customer had an AR-15 shouldered with the barrel pointed right at the sales rep as he instructed him on parallax and sight picture. He took a muzzle to the face like a champ.

  24. Certainly at a couple of local National Forest quarries (Memaloose road, anyone? Brown’s Camp?), I just run away if it looks sketchy.

    I will posit that noobs are not the people to worry about. They’re generally happy to take advice, and have likely recently boned up on basic safety. It’s the experienced people who have grown complacent that scare me. Sometimes that’s the guy behind the counter.

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