Gun Guys author and TTAGonist Dan Baum is setting-up a new gun safety organization. No really. Gun safety. Not gun control. His group will urge Americans to lock-up their guns (when not on body) and teach all family members the four rules of gun safety. I’m down with that. As I’ve said before, I reckon muzzle control is the One Rule to Rule Them All. But trigger finger discipline is a very close second. When it comes to self-defense . . .
You really want to shoot the person you want to shoot when you want to shoot them – and not a second sooner. The trick to that trick: keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot (being aware of your target and what’s behind and in front of it and all). By no means is this easy.
When I was huffing and puffing my way through a Patriot Protection sim session, as I entered the “funnel of death” in their murderous maze, I remember thinking to myself screw-it, I’m going to put my finger on the trigger of the modded GLOCK 19 and be ready to shoot. I admit it: I did just that.
In retrospect, WTF? Did a moment of monumental stress obviate years of practice? Yes. Yes it did. And that was a truly scary moment, because this gun guy sometimes carries a Wilson Combat 1911 (which conceals way better than my GLOCK). There’s no “registering” the trigger with that gun. If I touch that go-pedal it’s going off.
I like to think I wouldn’t have registered the trigger if I’d been carrying the 1911. Anyway, the experience taught me I need to train some more – which I’m doing. Keeping your finger off the trigger requires some serious self-control – at a time when adrenalin is lighting-up your reptilian brain like a Christmas tree. Given the catastrophic possibilities of touching off a round at the wrong time, it’s just as important to practice not shooting as it is to practice shooting. Here’s one way you can do that, by throwing a curve ball during a training drill . . .
Trigger discipline issues raise an interesting question about trigger weight. Should most self-defense guns have heavy triggers given that most shooters will put their finger on the trigger ahead of a defensive gun use? I think the answer has to be yes – despite the fact that the heavier the trigger the less accurate the shooter. Then again, most self-defense scenarios follow the 3-3-3 rule: three yards, three shots, three seconds. So how accurate do you have to be, really?
In the same sense, should most shooters looking for a defensive firearm eschew John Moses Browning’s meisterwerk 1911 with its touch-‘n-go bang switch? I think the answer has to be yes. The 1911 is an expert’s gun.
But don’t get me wrong: it’s a free country. Americans should be free to buy whatever gun they want to buy, regardless of the trigger pull weight. If they buy the “wrong” gun and shoot the wrong person “by mistake” so be it – in the same sense that if they lose control of a high-powered sports car that’s the way it goes. It’s not the government’s responsibility to protect citizens from their own malfeasance. Oh wait . . .
The Bay State reckons it’s their job to “dumb down” handguns for public safety by making the trigger really hard to squeeze, just as New York police do for their officers. But this caveat disadvantages women. Old people. People with arthritis. People with small hands. People who want to shoot accurately. Why should all these Americans sacrifice their safety for the safety of the majority of shooters? No reason.
That said, it’s really important for all shooters to understand the differences in trigger pull and how stress changes everything, so they can make an informed purchase decision. Unless we want to defer to the government, trigger weight education is the responsibility of manufacturers, gun stores, firearms instructors, experienced shooters and the media. I’ve done my part here. Make sure you do yours.