Found this comment under my post on FPS Russia:

“I agree with your point about those who have seen combat not being as “safety susie” around firearms. I know if I don’t pull the trigger, there is no way that weapon will fire so as long as my finger isn’t on the trigger the weapon can be pointed at my hand, foot, thigh, chest, head, a kitten, a puppy, a kitten cuddling with a puppy or my girlfriend and they are just as safe as if the firearm were in a holster. Good point!”

OIF – March 2006-Nov. 2006, Nov. 2007-Nov. 2009
1/8 INF BAT, 3/4 INF DIV

41 Responses to Complacency Kills

  1. Only trained professionals can be trusted to safely handle firearms. The security gaurd on the left and the accountant on the right are obviously not those trained professionals.

  2. I’ve seen a little bit of combat myself (Panama DEC 89- FEB 90, Desert Storm AUG 90- APR 91, OEF NOV 01-MAR 02, OIF FEB 03- MAY 04, MAR 07- JUN 08, DEC 11- DEC 12). Yes, I am relatively confident that none of my weapons will go off unless I pull the trigger. Well except for that Ted Williams Model 16 Gauge Bolt Action Shotgun I have that before I had fixed would fire as soon as the bolt was closed. Good thing I never pointed that at my wife, kids, dogs, hunting partners, foot, thigh, etc.

    Anyone who is so complacent that they come to believe that a weapon is safe unless the trigger is pulled probably shouldn’t be allowed to handle weapons. Want to piss off a guy who’s spent some time in combat? Flag him with your weapon and tell him not to worry, your finger isn’t on the trigger.

    • “Want to piss off a guy who doesnt want to be shot? Flag him with your weapon and tell him not to worry, your finger isn’t on the trigger.”

      Revised it for ya. Those who are lax enough to flag people with a loaded gun are the same ones who are lax enough to have a ND. Not who I want pointing a gun at me.

      • Good point, and a valid revision.

        There are ranges I just won’t go to anymore because I guess I’m just too much of a “Safety Susie” and see things that make my blood boil. (Or maybe I figure that I want to live long enough to enjoy the pension Uncle Sam owes me soon.) There are people I won’t hunt with. (Some of them are blood relatives.)

        I have seen NCOs lay hands on Soldiers for flagging someone with a weapon, and have yet to punish one for it.

    • All due respect sir and thank you for your service which is far longer than mine was, but if your screen name indicates your rank then you have nothing to say on the subject of how ops are run in Iraq/Afghanistan.

      You were not in the same position as I was and you were not in the same situations as I was. Again, stay in your lane on this one sir. The 4 rules CANNOT be followed at all time in the combat and urban fighting of Iraq and Afghanistan.

      And I never stated that I was too good for them or that they shouldn’t be followed at all possible times. Never did. All I stated was the fact that a weapon will not discharge unless someone pulls the trigger.

  3. I believe we need to separate ‘confidence’ from complacency.Complacency is assuming because you’ve used a gun X number of times,nothing can go wrong and thus you’re exempt from the 4 rules.Confidence means following the 4 Laws with the understanding that you know your weapon well enough to ensure the chances of an ND are low.

  4. And I think the two in the picture are the last people in LA to be holding weapons. Tell Mayor Crybaby where he can stick it.

  5. A *little* knowledge of combat is a dangerous thing for the commenter that Farago quotes. Most guys who have seen a *lot* of combat (SEALs, Delta) are properly respectful of their muzzles. Poor muzzle discipline turns deadly when people trip, sears slip, safeties get gummed up, or rounds just cook off in hot rifles.

    • Have you seen much combat? I say that because that is a personal attack on my experience so I want to gauge yours.

      We have this thing in the Army, can’t speak for the other branches, where a brigade level armorer would check our weapons every 3 months in-country to insure those mechanical issues you brought up weren’t there.
      Regardless of what you think we weren’t exactly going Rambo every mission or anything. I think my unit TOTAL fired about 3000 rounds. Not a lot of wear and tear.

      While the SOCOM units do get a lot more training, they do not necessarily have more combat experience, though a few do. We pretty much did the same stuff in Iraq, they actually had shorter deployments.

      If a person tripped with their fingers inside the trigger guard then they were wrong anyways.

      And WTF are you talking about a round cooking off? I’ve seen that happen with a .50 after about 150 rounds but not a M4/M16. We only carried 210 rounds on mission and that ain’t enough to make a round cook off shooting on semi…

        • How many cook offs have you seen on M-16’s after not being fired? How about about a magazine through them for covering fire? I have seen none. Belt-fed machine guns, yes. M16’s? Nope. I don’t think we carried enough ammo to get the rifle’s hot enough for that.

        • I said at the range which indicates firing. You might have caught that we’re you not in full-on jackass mode. And it was mostly with the M16 A1’s, but nowhere nearb150 rounds.

        • I’m sorry for the offense:

          I’m defending myself from an entire article that is supposed to illustrate just how irresponsible I am of a gun owner and people commenting telling me that I am horrible for saying that guns don’t fire if nothing pulls the trigger.

          I’m a little perturbed. I teach people how to shoot and was one of the Range Safety Officers when I was in the Army and people are telling me how horrible I am based on one comment out of context that is a true statement.

          Again, sorry!

  6. I worked as a unit armorer for an armd cav trp schlepping the IGB. Muzzle control is your friend. And I knew numberous folk that would have been more than willing to explain that to you in painful detail should you have been so stupid as to demonstrate your lack of regard in this respect, myself included. Mebbe half the unit at that point were viet vets, moi not included, but I preferred to learn from the experience of others, it’s less painful that way. 😉

  7. I learned this progression a long time ago: Confident, cocky, comfortable, lazy, dead. It’s true with just about anything.

    • A favorite Cooper quote of mine:
      We grieve for the [white South] African farmers who have lived in Condition White for generations, but now find that following the revolution they do not have this choice. As much as one might wish it, he cannot simply bow out of a race war. You do not have to choose up sides to be a combatant. The other people will do it for you.

      • or
        We were saddened to discover that South African Airlines, which we used to think was second only to SwissAir, has come down several clicks in service and comfort following the revolution. A form of affirmative action seems to have equipped the cabins with too many people who are simply not up to the task. The job of airline stewardess (“flight attendant”) demands an eminent degree of intelligence and sophistication. It is not a task for just anyone, and people who have spent a lot of time flying commercially over the past decades have discovered that times have a way of changing.

        • It’s true – I’ve been flying on SAA literally since I was born and they have really gone downhill not as bad as a domestic US carrier, but not up to international standards either. At least the wine is still good.

          I always liked seeing the sand bucket clearance bays by the check in counter when I flew within SA.

  8. I have had GIs point a gun at me and in all sinceity say it was “empty” and yet the firearm had one up the spout. There is no such thing as an Unloaded Firearm, just as there is no such thing as Peaceful Persuit of Nuke Power.
    Most PPl, GIs included are dumb as rocks when it comes to firearms

  9. Tell me about how much of a badass combat vet you are and how you know more than Jeff and the four rules dont apply to you. Sure. I beleive that.I have trigger time. I had to pick brains up with an E tool and put them in a body bag with the rest of the corpse. I know what bullet wounds look like. I understand exactally what happens when some one gets shot, because I have seen it. Dont. Point. Guns. At. Stuff. You. Dont. Want. Holes. In. Firearms saftey needs to be taken seriously. ALL of it does. Its not a joking matter.

  10. Fastest way to make E5 in the Army? Make E6 first and have an accidental weapon discharge (even into a barrel at a clearing point at some locations …) Safety is a serious issue in the military.

  11. In all truth that was my comment.

    When taken out of context without my other 3 comments on that thread it makes me look like an arrogant asshole, i’ll admit. It is not as if I just walk around with my loaded weapons flagging everyone who walks in (shoulder holster aside). I have the proper amount of respect for a firearm given my experience that started when I was too young to remember, I shot my first gun at 3 I am told and I observe the 4 rules.

    What I was saying was that, even though it is NOT my common practice a loaded weapon pointed at you can’t hurt you unless someone pulls the trigger. Truth or lie? We all know it to be truth.

    That is the extent of the comment; not that I walk around pointing weapons at anyone I want because I am some kind of complacent, cocky asshole but because it is inevitable at some point in time that you WILL flag yourself or someone else with a loaded weapon and if you use good trigger discipline then NO ONE will die. That’s it.

    So to sum up, I do obey the 4 rules but at some point if you just CANNOT follow the rule about pointing in a safe direction then trigger discipline insures that no one will be hurt. When you’re kicking in doors in the middle of the night with NVG’s on you ARE going to flag and be flagged by loaded M16’s, 249’s and Mossy’s, trigger discipline kept us safe.

    Am I such an irresponsible gun owner for saying that a gun can’t hurt you unless you pull the trigger? Because it can’t…

    • You make a good point – when you’re out in the field moving tactically, at some point, someone will walk or run across your firing arc. It’s not ideal, you work hard to avoid it, but it will happen. That’s why one exercises proper finger discipline.

      • Thank you! Seriously you’re only the second person to acknowledge that what I said isn’t blasphemy but the fact of life in combat!

        • I don’t understand why this Safety Susie thread is directed at you. I completely understand and agree with your sentiment.

          War is for Big Boys and Big Boy Rules. Get over your fascination of the 4 rules. That’s why you have to trust your teammates– and they have to trust you.

  12. I had a long, drawn out reply that didn’t post for some reason so I’ll keep it short.

    I wrote the comment, it was taken out of context and WAS NOT a representation of how I conduct myself with loaded weapons. Instead it was a simple fact that a loaded weapon in good working condition WILL NOT fire unless you pull the trigger. That’s it.

    I guess I’ll apologize to the group of strangers who were so upset to hear that fact because it goes against The 4 Rules. Even though I do not treat firearms in that way the simple fact remains that while deplorable it will not hurt anyone.

    Combat experience played in because those who have seen combat know that muzzle discipline is sometimes not able to be achieved 100% of the time and in THAT case trigger discipline maintains the safety of your unit. You’re lying if you say otherwise OR you have never been stacked on a door at 0 dark thirty with Nods on, kicked a shitty little Iraqi door down and had to clear a narrow building while maintaining security. Nods kill your depth perception and the little corridors make it impossible to keep muzzle discipline so trigger discipline is King.

    Trigger discipline is the more important of the 2 in combat when muzzle sweeping is an inevitable occurrence.

    I have now thoroughly explained myself, thanks for not crucifying me anymore! And yes, I think I sounded like a total dick in the comment he quoted!

  13. Robert Farago –
    I certainly enjoy being quoted directly without context or at least the damn comment that I replied to. Jesus, man! Kind of a dick move ESPECIALLY when you have not a freaking clue where I’m coming from with the reference.

    I’ll ask again: If you are in combat, not that you could picture yourself there, and there is no other way to maintain security without pointing toward another soldier’s leg are you going to just point your weapon at the floor? No, you’re going to hold your weapon at the low ready off to the side of that soldier’s leg and cover whichever side you are responsible for! The 4 rules don’t always work in combat. That’s all my comment said.

    It’s always funny how people say they respect vets…until they disagree. What you did was use your position as a publisher to disrespect a vet because I said a FACT that contradicts what you think is right. Can a firearm go off unless something pulls the trigger? NO. Did I learn that trigger discipline is MORE important than muzzle discipline in combat? Yes. Does it make me an irresponsible gun owner to say these things? No.

    • I re-published the entire quote and linked to the article under which it appeared.

      I profoundly disagree with your supposition that trigger control is more important than muzzle control. There’s considerable evidence that otherwise well-trained people lose their trigger control under stress, or via inattention ,or any number of factors. Muzzle control ensures no one will be injured.

      Certainly, there are situations where muzzling someone may be unavoidable. The one you described doesn’t seem to be one (off the side of a soldier’s leg is not the same as AT a soldier’s leg). But muzzle awareness is ket to gun safety. I believe it is the one safety rule to rule all others.

      Note: I do not disrespect you or your service by holding a contrary opinion, or sharing your opinion with others. I did not call you an irresponsible gun owner.

      • Again, combat is not the range or training. I’m done trying to explain to you as you obviously can’t understand. It is IMPOSSIBLE to not sweep someone in the process of combat. You need to keep out of things that you know nothing about.

        Also, I NEVER said that I routinely sweep people as a civilian or even in the military, didn’t say I didn’t believe in muzzle awareness. Never even implied it, actually. NEVER even partially eluded to it to where you could say these things. I just stated that a loaded weapon will not fire unless something pulls the trigger. So at this point it is libel as well. Reread my comment and say these things again.

        • Got to go along with that. While I was not in combat I spent 7 years in the Army. And then the National Guard and did a freakish amount of field exercises over the years. Just doing something like loading up into the back of a deuce with ALWAYS result in at least one muzzle sweep. I could go on all day listing instances where these sweeps are virtually unavoidable, especially at the pace set by those in charge. It may not be PC, but it’s true whether you like it or not.

        • THANK YOU JIM!!!!

          I apologized up there at that ‘snap’ I made at you about cooking off rounds just before I came down here and saw this.

          Seriously, thank you! I’m glad to see a vet that has common sense and isn’t bashing me for stating a fact of military activity!

        • I think that people are equating accidental, unavoidable sweeps occurring during combat with intentionally not observing basic firearm safety. People who haven’t done it will never get it.

  14. 1. Recall several instances where M-60’s fired off a burst, sitting untended. These were not cook-offs.
    2. Real bad effect on all present -as in several people picking themselves off the ground and looking for the jerk who screwed up.
    3. Patrolling, point walked off-safe. His decision, if number two did -mostly not. Everyone else carried weapon on safe until….
    4. Muzzle flags were always called -and mostly troops calling officers, senior NCO’s and foreigners. Never saw any reluctance on that.
    5. Am obviously old (M-60 reference) and old school.
    6. Am not comfortable with Glock style safety arrangements.
    7. Between hunting, deployments to AO’s, competitive shooting and other stuff, have always watched my fellow weapon handlers with a somewhat jaundiced eye.
    8. #1 was about a weapon, but lowest common denominator approach to others has always served me well.
    9. Am not mentioning a number of screw-ups I might or might not have made that possibly could have reinforced my paranoia.
    V/R JWest

  15. For those who are ignorant of the rules of various services, I present the Marine Corps safety rules. If you violate these, you get kicked off of the rifle range and will get punished:

    1) Treat every weapon as if it were loaded
    2) Never point a weapon at anything you do not intend to shoot
    3) Keep your weapon on safe until you are ready to fire
    4) Keep your finger straight and off the trigger until you intend to fire

    The Marine Corps takes weapons safety to almost the highest possible level and ingrains it into you. I remember that when we were in job school at Ft. Meade, MD (an army base) the guards would unintentionally flag us all of the time with their rifles. It took all our willpower to not relieve them of their weapons though we did inform our first sergeant who took care of the problem. So you can see how serious we take weapons safety. Also, I do not think that those Army guards exemplified the Army’s stance on weapons safety. Guards at gates are always junior enlisted personnel and they were probably tired and just needed a little more training.

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