In our liticaphobic civilization, liability has become an object of morbid fear on the part of anyone, particularly any business entity with sufficient assets to attract the attention of sleazy, erstwhile-unemployed lawyers.

This civilization is in desperate need of comprehensive tort reform. Until that day, pitiable causalities are, of course, (1) truth and (2) frankness, and the foregoing is the reason it is nearly impossible to get a straight answer out of “Instructions-for-Use” manuals and “customer-service” representatives from nearly any manufacturer, particularly gun manufacturers.

Lawyers often use “weasel-words” and “weasel phrases,” more to confuse future litigants than to educate and enlighten current users of guns for which they purport to provide instructions. Unfortunately, precious few of those same lawyer/authors even own a gun, much less carry one as part of their daily routine.

Interpretation (more like “translation”) of gun-user manuals has thus become an art in itself, and when reading them one continuously asks himself: “What are they really trying to say?”

In April of last year, I wrote that manuals provided with all modern pistols are improved, at least in the realm of honest, frank, and unambiguous language, over what they used to be.

However, starkly confronting the subject of routinely carrying serious guns for sedulous personal security is still almost never undertaken with any degree of honesty, either in manuals, nor in promotional material produced and promulgated by marketing departments.

For example, in just about all user manuals that come with serious pistols, you’ll find language like this:

“Never load our pistol (ie: put a live round in the chamber) until immediately prior to firing it. Unload the pistol immediately after firing.”

That language suggests to me that manufacturers of the pistol in question do not themselves believe it is safe to carry their own product while it is loaded, although they turn right around and heavily market those same pistols to police departments, where they know full-well that pistols carried by police personnel are routinely carried loaded.

And, that offends me, because it smacks of hypocrisy, although I’m sure corporate lawyers smugly insist it is all “necessary.”

In fact, manuals provided with modern guns rarely mention the issue of even occasionally carrying, much less routinely carrying, pistols. What needs to be said in gun-manuals, but probably never will be, is something like this:

Our pistols and designed for, and intended for, serious use, by police, military personnel, other security professionals, and private citizens. It is thus appropriate and acceptable that our pistols be routinely carried (openly or concealed) on the person, loaded (live round chambered), with a fully-charged magazine inserted, and hence in a high state of readiness, so as to be effective during personal security emergencies (which is the sole purpose for which they are designed and produced to begin with).

Accordingly, our pistols are designed to be, and are, “drop-safe.” That is, no amount, nor kind, of eternal trauma is even remotely likely to cause the pistol to discharge, even when loaded, absent pressure being applied to the trigger.

While no gun is “perfectly safe” (nor would you want it if it were), our pistols are specifically designed for, and intended for, serious purposes, as noted above. In our design and manufacturing methods, we’ve achieved an acceptable “safety/utility” compromise, though we work on improving our products constantly.

Before considering “going armed,” as described above, we recommend that all new owners of our pistols attend competent, comprehensive training, provided by us or other qualified trainers.”

The foregoing applies to Glock, SIG320, FNS, FN509, H&K VP9, Walther PPQ and PPS/M2, S&W M&P, SAXD and XD/M, Canik TP9SF/Elite, CZ P10C, Kahr, Ruger AA, Beretta APX, all the pistols I recommend for serious use, including routine carrying for personal security.


About John Farnam & Defense Training International, Inc

As a defensive weapons and tactics instructor John Farnam will urge you, based on your own beliefs, to make up your mind in advance as to what you would do when faced with an imminent and unlawful lethal threat. You should, of course, also decide what preparations you should make in advance, if any. Defense Training International wants to make sure that their students fully understand the physical, legal, psychological, and societal consequences of their actions or inactions.

It is our duty to make you aware of certain unpleasant physical realities intrinsic to the Planet Earth. Mr Farnam is happy to be your counselor and advisor. Visit: www.defense-training.com

 

35 Responses to John Farnam: What Handgun Manuals Should Say

  1. One, two, three… twelve. The manual says it holds twelve rounds.
    I’ll guess a Taurus PT111. Any other takers?

    • Right in front of me is my Ruger MK1 Target .22, circa 1978. In its original box is the original manual as well: consisting of a single 8.1/2×11 sheet of paper, printed on both sides and folded into thirds.
      That’s it. That was all it was. In 1978.

    • We should start tattooing that on every single persons forehead, just as a constant reminder to the populace in general to not be a goddamn dumbass.

  2. Your new gun is a physical object. Every physical object made by man is in some way imperfect. While we make every effort to ensure our pistols are as close to ideal as possible, it’s up to you, the owner/operator, to understand its and your limitations and to use it safely.

    You are responsible for your own safety.

  3. “we recommend that all new owners of our pistols attend competent, comprehensive training, provided by us or other qualified trainers.”

    Y’know, for just a minute there, I thought we weren’t going to get the usual sales pitch. But sure enough, we did, because that was the whole point of this post, wasn’t it.

    And, that offends me, because it smacks of hypocrisy, although I’m sure all trainers smugly insist that shameless self-promotion is “necessary.”

    • Every man, it seems, firmly believes that he’s a great shot, an excellent driver, and a fantastic lover, with no real training in any of those activities. Hell, he doesn’t even have to read a BOOK to be an expert in those three things!
      This explains the large numbers of accidental/negligent discharges, car crashes, and lesbians in the world.

    • You and I both saw John Farnam in the title of the article and we both clicked through… can’t say they didn’t warn us.

      I’m more offended by the curb stomping that the english language took. Just because you can type a needlessly complex word doesn’t mean you should use it, especially if you don’t know what it means (causalities?).

      • Causality: that which causes. I am so used to seeing it my line of work that I had to go back and see where he used it. (It’s lawyer -speak.) Sedulous, though, was a new one for me.

        • Oh yeah, I wasn’t clear – I know what it means, but he appears to mean “casualties”.

          Although I guess if he actually _meant_ causalities it’s even worse as the sentence then makes even less sense.

    • My grandfather was a qualified trainer. He brought home game and killed varmints in a safe manner.
      I’m sorry you didn’t have anyone like that in your own life..

      • “I’m sorry you didn’t have anyone like that in your own life.”

        Oh, but I did — and unlike Farnam, he never tried to sell me anything.

  4. Tort reform. There’s a topic that desperately needs more discussion in society. I don’t pretend to know what the answer to this problem is. Or how to even go about it without totally destroying and reconstructing society.

    • “Loser pays” would go a long way toward reforming American tort law, while also discouraging “lawfare.”

      Which is why the ABA and The American Association for Justice (fka the Association of Trial Lawyers of America) have a collective coronary thrombosis whenever the subject is raised.

      • ““Loser pays” would go a long way toward reforming American tort law, while also discouraging “lawfare.””

        The little guy wronged will find themselves slammed by the wealthy companies and their unlimited resources in areas like discovery.

        Under loser pays, might will make right. How do you protect the little guy legitimately wronged?

        Ooops, never mind. I didn’t read the end of your comment.

        ” I don’t pretend to know what the answer to this problem is. Or how to even go about it without totally destroying and reconstructing society.”

        Yeah, there is that…

      • I’m in the “loser pays” camp, but it does have its downside. An individual with limited means who’s been screwed by a large organization with expensive lawyers on call can delay-delay-delay until those limited means are exhausted. Once the poor schlub is broke, he can then be saddled with very expensive legal costs. I don’t know what the solution is, unfortunately

        • Seems to me, having courts that don’t tolerate tactics intended to make the lesser funded side quit would be a necessary component of any tort reform.

        • Dang, no edit button …. Wanted to clarify, tactics designed to make the other side use all of their resources, e.g. excessive delays. Making the other side quit by offering a reasonable settlement, of course, would be just fine, I think.

    • Nationalize all lawyers. No more private practice lawyers. All lawyers, even the big corporate level guys go in a .gov run pool. They get paid the same hourly rate, say 40 bucks an hour. The cases are assigned by their .gov managers.

      Everybody is on a level playing field.

      • My mechanic charges $105 per hour, and the Roto-Rooter guy charges $150 per hour or any part thereof. I doubt either went to college, much less another three or four years after that. Doctors can earn $200 and up, sometimes $1000 per hour.
        $40 an hour won’t even cover the overhead. Plus, capping fees like that is very un-American, dare I saw communistic. And yet you profess this? Why should licensed attorneys be forced to make so much less?

        Most of the people ranting and raving about “tort reform” are completely clueless. If there are abuses, and of course there have been, legislators have been quick to act to change the laws. Changing attorney compensation or going to a “loser pays” system does not address the fundamental issues. In every single lawsuit, someone wins, and someone loses. In contract litigation with attorney’s fees, clauses, the loser4 pay rule applies. but there is absolutely no reason to impose such a system on the personal injury bar. For one, defendants are almost always represented by a (very wealthy ) insurance company with almost unlimited resources, a company that has charged a premium in anticipation that some of its insured will get sued for injuries each year. Why should they be rewarded with recouping those costs at the expense of some poor fool who got hurt. And at least in my community, collecting from most plaintiffs is unlikely; most have huge medical expenses, have lost work, and otherwise don’t have much of a pot to piss in, much less the thousands of dollars in attorneys fees incurred by his own attorney, much less those incurred by the other side.

        Also remember that a plaintiff’s attorney’s fees do not, in most cases (civil rights aside, for example) increase the amount of the award; the attorney gets a percentage of the recovery (if any) and gets nothing if he/she loses. This fact alone results in many really poor cases not getting filed, because just like regular folks, those attorneys don’t like losing money. So it is mostly a self-correcting issue. the exception are where the attorney has a very seriously injured client, and the need for a recovery may outweigh the chance of losing or having a reduced verdict due to the client’s own percentage of fault. For example, cases of quadriplegia are almost too much for most of the plaintiff’s bar to pass up.

        • The salary is open for discussion. Reforming the system is not. Allowing lawyers to make a decent living while removing the obscene profit motive may help the system.

          The insurance company would, like everybody else, be assigned a .gov lawyer for that particular case.

  5. This liability and law suit happy environment we live in is a point I’ve made several times when discussing training by former SEALS, D Boys, Rangers, Green Beanie wearers, etc.

    However many weekends and however many thousands of dollars you pay them you’re not getting the level of training they got for free from Uncle Sugar.

    Their lawyers and insurance companies would have a conniption if they tried. It’s your money and time to spend. But you’re seriously delusional if you think you’re training up to that level in the private sector.

    Hell, as a run of the mill nothing special regular I crawled under live machine gun fire and thru explosions in training. Wonder how that training would go in the private sector? Criminal charges and lawsuits unnumbered?

    Training for a non sworn non military gun owner should be 99% safe gun handling and legal ramifications.

    • There is a singular exception to this: If you can manage to land certain positions with a PMC.

      In that select circumstance you can get training significantly above the level that private companies generally offer. It’s not quite to the level of a “spare no expense” deal like an enlistment or a commission but it is leaps and bounds past what you’ll get with the training you’ve mentioned and it is significantly more risky.

      • I’ve never done research into the pmc companies. Some folks class them as mercs. Some don’t. But I’m willing to bet the vast majority of their hires are ex military. Already trained and experienced and just needing some polish(executive protection details, etc.) to round them out.

        • Most are but they’ll occasionally take people who get a “good word” from someone who already works for them. That’s why I said “manage to land” because most people outside the military won’t “manage to land” one of those jobs.

          A friend of mine did however get a “good word” and was hired. He got the “personal protection detail” training which was pretty darn expansive and comprehensive from my understanding. He also got a bunch of other courses from them, all part of the hiring agreement obviously. The kind of thing where falling out of a helicopter is an actual possibility, the sort of thing you correctly point out that your average retired SOCOM guy isn’t going to teach because liability (and cost).

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