Contest Entry: Rule #5 – Take the Shot



Colonel Jeff Cooper was a very smart man. He wrote a lot of books, had a storied career as a Marine Corps officer in WWII and Korea, and established the Gunsite Academy in Arizona which has a well-deserved worldwide reputation for high-quality firearms training. Colonel Cooper was also a staunch supporter of the 1911 pattern Colt .45 semi-automatic pistol and a vocal detractor of the modern DA/SA “crunch & tickle” semi-autos in lesser calibers, as well as the creator of the “Scout” style rifle. There are many people of the gun today who do not know of Colonel Cooper, who died in 2006, but probably know one of his most important lessons: the four rules of firearm safety . . .

Far be it from me, a mere keyboard cammando, to disparage anything the venerable Jeff Cooper had to say, but my EDC is a striker-fired Ruger SR9c and my rifle is a Ruger SR-556. Personally I have never liked the 1911 pistol, although I understand its merits and the reasons so many other shooters do like it.

My point is, the world has changed since Colonel Cooper pontificated his opinions on firearms. The four rules remain sacrosanct because, by and large, they make perfect sense and are easy for even beginners to remember and understand. Further, as RF has pointed out on numerous occasions, you have to break at least two of the four at the same time before anything bad happens.

Colonel Cooper four basic rules are:

  1. All guns are always loaded. Even if they are not, treat them as if they are.

  2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.

  3. Keep your finger off the trigger till your sights are on the target.

  4. Identify your target, and what is behind it.

It must be remembered, however, that Colonel Cooper came from a time before wide-spread concerns about psycho mass-shooters and ISIS-inspired jihadists. As such he tended to be concerned more with limiting civilian casualties, legal repercussions, bad press, etc. As such it is my opinion that in the 21st century we need to add Rule #5:

5.             Depending on your assessment of your target as to his intent and potential to cause death and destruction it may be necessary to disregard Rule #4 and take any shot offered in order to stop the continuing threat.

Here’s my rationale: If you shoot and miss, or shoot and over-penetrate you MIGHT hit an unintended target downrange. If you do not shoot because of Rule #4 he will DEFINITELY and intentionally shoot as many targets downrange as he can. In my opinion it is better to accept the risk of collateral damage than the certainty of intentional damage. (YMMV) Remember that statistically many people shot by pistol calibers who get prompt medical attention survive their wounds. The same is not necessarily true of rifle calibers.

I am not an operator nor have I ever played one on TV. I am not a lawyer, either. This is just my considered opinion on this subject, so take it for what that is worth and make your own decisions as to its applicability in the real world.

Minimize the risk of unintended casualties if you can. When possible shoot at a downward angle to limit bullet travel past the target to an occasional ricochet from the floor. Unless the target’s position and proximity allow a Center Mass shot, aim for the groin or thighs. Hits in this area will immobilize the shooter and make your follow-up shots easier while at the same time preventing him from moving on to new targets. Once the shooter is immobilized or on the ground follow up with as many rounds as necessary to “Stop the threat.” I suggest that you keep shooting until he drops his weapon.

Once the threat appears to have stopped, DO NOT APPROACH the shooter. Keep him covered with your weapon, call or have someone else call for help, and respond immediately to any commands from “First Responders”.

In any active shooter situation the most important consideration is to STOP THE THREAT!

You may get shot. That would suck, but…how much more would it suck to do nothing even though you had the ability to take some action and then go home and see the body count reported on the news? And how many people may make good their escape while the Active Shooter turns his attention to dealing with the threat you pose as opposed to the massacre of innocents?

At this point this is no longer some theoretical exercise. There is an Active Shooter intent on killing as many people as he can. All rules other than “Stop the shooter” must be reconsidered. This is not a Hollywood production or some Simunitions exercise – if your only shot is the knee or an ankle, take it! If necessary, shoot him in the balls! I guarantee that will distract his attention from whatever other plans he had for the rest of his day. Then, to ease his concerns & discomfort, keep shooting until he is no longer a threat.

The above scenario assumes, of course, a lone shooter, or only one shooter in your general area. If there are multiple shooters, do the best you can and then feel free to get the hell out of Dodge!

Here are five things to consider in an active shooter scenario:

1.     Always assume the active shooter’s firearm is loaded and he has an unknown but significant number of additional magazines to keep it that way indefinitely.

2.     The active shooter will always keep their muzzle pointed at any living person, since they are all targets to be destroyed.

3.     The active shooter will keep his finger on the trigger until he is out of targets, out of ammo, or dead.

4.     The active shooter has no regard for what is beyond his target since every person in front of his weapon IS a target.

5.     In an active shooter scenario you must disregard Rule #4 and take any shot offered since failure to stop the active shooter GUARANTEES more people will be shot as opposed to the possibility that some MIGHT be hit by your missed shots or over-penetrations.

I look forward to reading your well considered opinions on this topic.


  1. avatar Rambeast says:

    God rest his soul.

  2. avatar JWM says:

    Will the cops, DA’s and judges be on page with your line of acceptable collateral damage in order to limit the damage done by a mass shooter?

    Rule #5 sounds like a bonanza for anti gunners and money grubbing lawyers looking after the interest of any family members of the person that stops one of your bullets cause of rule 5.

    1. avatar Evan in Dallas says:

      Every sensible person would know that taking the shot was the best thing to do in that situation. Unfortunately, the type of people who just prefer that other people not defend themselves will use it to further their agenda. No matter what happens. They don’t care about results. They care about feelings and “the message we send about our society.

      1. avatar Sock Monkey says:

        This rule number 5 business is very silly. It’s beyond obvious that, in a life-or-death situation, there’s going to be a lot of unintentional fudging of the rules. In that situation, you may also knowingly violate the four rules, because they would otherwise paralyze you. Unless there are no friendlies anywhere near you (and there probably will be someone, somewhere within range) you are going to be covering one or more people with your muzzle. Nor is there a guarantee you will know exactly what is beyond your target. Most such encounters are going to be taking place in populated areas, and in something less than full sunlight.

        That doesn’t mean the four rules are incomplete, or don’t work. It just means that dangerous situations are (surprise!) dangerous. As Jeff Cooper liked to quote, “Eez gon! Eez not safe!” I’ve no doubt Cooper explained all of this more verbosely than I did, in his voluminous writing.

        1. avatar Sock Monkey says:

          Actually, I should take back that bit about not knowing what’s behind your target. The rules don’t say, “never fire at anything but an earthen berm.” Rather, they advise you to know what’s behind your target. In the shoot-out scenario, you know there are (or could be) innocents behind the bad guy. It’s just that you may have to fire anyway.

        2. avatar william says:

          I have thought about this scenario and decided my strategy would be to get low. Crouch down on a knee, and fire up into the assailant. I practice this. Also, having practiced firing past 12 yards in a rapid stressed out mode with no preparation, I will never disregard rule number 4. I will never ignore the risk of killing innocents. I can move, I can close the distance, I can fire upwards, but I will not shoot someone downrage just to stop a killer. If I’m not sure about my shot, I change my position until I am. How does it play out in the author’s mind that he was a hero for killing a mass shooter, but one of his misses hit a 4 year little girl in the head killing her instantly just as she was about to exit the area? Never disregard rule 4. If you do, you are panicking and shouldn’t be shooting in any case. We who carry are held to a higher standard, the least of which is, ‘do no harm to an innocent, even if it costs your life.’

    2. avatar Mk10108 says:

      Police shoot and wound bystanders.

      If you have the nads to shoot a pistol at a carbine carrying active shooter. I’m sure you can stand front of a judge and debrief.

      1. avatar Adub says:

        I’d be one target out of many, most shooters suck, and with my XDM, I’d be confident engaging at ranges beyond 25 yards. If he’s looking the other way and I have even a second to aim, he’s dead.

        That’s not Rambo talk, because if I have my smaller Taurus with it’s poorer accuracy, it’ll be spray and pray (and running).

    3. avatar Chrispy says:

      It boils down to you, as the individual, to make a decision that you can live with. I think it’s been discussed in depth in every shoot/no shoot scenario discussion we’ve had here on TTAG.

      The individual makes the decision to carry, and they have to make the decision whether to shoot or not. Nothing will guide them in the moment beyond their training and their moral compass.

    4. avatar Jack Fallen says:

      Gun grabbers will always fault you no matter how many “handgun safety rules” you follow. It doesn’t matter if you do or do not use rule #5, just decide on your own free will to stop the threat.

    5. avatar uncommon_sense says:


      I totally get what you are saying. There is no doubt in my mind that there is a substantial risk of a wounded bystander suing you or a District Attorney prosecuting you if you attempt to stop a spree killer or terrorist.

      I hope that I would do the right thing and take the shot as the author states. I would do everything in my power to only hit the spree killer or terrorist. I may miss. There are no guarantees in life. I’ll take my chances with a wounded bystander. And I’ll take my chances with a jury.

      I know that I would never dream of suing an armed victim who unintentionally wounded me while trying to take out a spree killer or terrorist. Hopefully, most other people would be like minded. If not, and I were to lose a lawsuit, I would start a crowd-sourced fund to pay the damages. Hopefully lots of people would help since I actually did the right thing to stop a spree killer or terrorist.

      Along the same lines, if I were on a jury, I would never convict an armed victim who did everything in their power to stop a spree killer or terrorist and unintentionally wounded a bystander. Hopefully, many people are like-minded.

      1. avatar JWM says:

        For the record. I would take the shot too. But with the knowledge that if I survived the encounter I would be looking forward to a George Zimmerman existence, at least for the short term.

  3. avatar Geoff PR says:

    Aw, geeze.

    I saw the B&W pic and instantly thought ‘weekend caption contest’.

    I was gonna enter this:

    “Dammit, Shannon! No means NO!”

    Oh, well…


    1. avatar Rand says:

      That would have made a great photo comment.

    2. avatar Broken 3ight says:

      Actually, in New York it is now “Yes means yes.”

  4. avatar Aaron says:

    If you shoot an innocent bystander, you will probably pay via criminal and civil penalties. Good intentions don’t really matter.

    I’d like to hear a lawyer’s opinion on this topic.

  5. avatar Burley says:

    The four rules are not merely sufficient, they are complete. Calculating all the risks you described are implied in rules 2 and 4. The WORLD has not changed one iota. Politics meander about seeking where they may wreak havoc, but that’s no different today than it was 5000 years ago. Only technology has changed. Remember, once you start acting like a bad guy, you are one. The end does not justify the means.

    1. avatar Curtis in IL says:

      The four rules are not complete. They are the foundation. They are the four that apply to all guns, all the time, everywhere. There are many more rules that are specific to how, where, and why you have a gun in your hand.

      There are rules for when to load your gun, and when to unload it, depending on if you’re at a public range, hunting, etc. There are specific rules for hunting (e.g. Never climb a fence with a gun).

      There are rules that apply to certain types of guns and not others. For example, you would never shoot at a deer on the top of a ridge, not knowing what or who is beyond that ridge. But you can shoot a shotgun with #8 birdshot towards the sky, knowing those BBs won’t go far.

      Respect Col. Cooper. Once you start worshiping him, you might stop thinking for yourself.

      1. avatar Burley says:

        Why don’t people get this: the four rules are complete. Jeff Cooper was a genius who distilled all the necessary disciplines into four easy to understand CONCEPTS that are indeed all we need to operate safely. All that you discussed are implied in the four rules. The rules aren’t a step by step procedural guide, they are a minimum set of CONDITIONS your mind must be in whilst possessing a firearm of any kind.
        Let’s break it down, shall we:
        1. treat all guns as if they are loaded, always.
        This means that you must be aware that rules 2-4 are in effect unless you see the bolt or some other critically important part of your firearm out and away from the receiver. More info about rule 1 can be found in the analysis of the other 3.

        2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you aren’t willing to destroy.
        This means that one must be willing to calculate the ancillary risk inherent(by consulting rule 4 whilst assessing) in the task of destroying the desired target. If you see a bad guy with demonstrable intent to harm and you have the ability to kill him but may harm passers-by with over penetration, decide if you are willing to harm 1 or 2 innocents in the act of potentially saving many more. On the ethical side of the argument: same situation except you fear being arrested for your actions, dare you destroy for fear of incarceration? More simply, I’m crossing farmer John’s pasture and have to pass through 2 fences to do so. Do I climb while slung? Would the muzzle sweep the farmer’s barn, house, livestock whilst doing so? Would leaning the rifle on the post eliminate the threat? What if it falls while I’m climbing the fence? will it fall toward me? IS simply “away” from me sufficiently safe for the farmer to trust me to continue passing through his property? Should I carefully place the rifle on the ground THROUGH the fence before I consider passing the obstacle at all? Since we know the gun is loaded, we MUST consider the other rules in making this decision.

        3. Keep your find off the trigger until your sights are on target.
        Simple, once you understand that the rules aren’t a procedural order and all are equally important. You must operate with ALL 4 rules equally observed and all at the same time. IF you have decided that you know what(or whom) and where your target is, and what is behind them, (whether it be lifelong guilt and accidentally shooting a fellow citizen or imprisonment due to unfriendly political environs), you may then proceed to acquire said target and then gently place your booger-hook on the bang switch.

        4. Know your target and what is behind it.
        See how this works? Rule four was actually in play before said target acquisition. You can’t know if your muzzle is covering anything you don’t wish to destroy until you’ve known your target and what is behind it.
        These rules are complete. Whether your sitting at home cleaning your pistol or roaming the streets of Fallujah looking for insurgents and everything in between. Stop trying to complicate things. Train your mind to consider ALL 4 simultaneously or sell whatever firearms you now own.

    2. avatar Craig says:

      JC’s 4 rules are intended to keep new shooters or young shooters or whatever to not shoot themselves or other innocents on the range. Remington’s 10 commandments are about gun ownership, shooting, and maintenance (and Remington covering their own backside).

      Adding in a #5 about active shooters isn’t going to help new shooters learn safety nor will it help a 6 year old be safer with their first time with a .22.

  6. avatar Jon in CO says:

    I think it’s a good set of “when applicable” and “where applicable” rules. Not a good blanket set, kind of thing. The OP is thinking, and that’s the best way to figure things out.

  7. avatar Joe ker says:

    Coop! Love ya man. Only thing you screwed me on a little was that whole ‘forward mounted scope’ thing lol. It’s just makes the rifle too damn front end heavy and too easy to get outside of the eye box. (/half joking of course)

    1. avatar JS says:

      JC didn’t have access to the modern 1-4X scopes. If he did, he might have rethought that part of the Scout rifle concept. IMO.

      1. avatar Joe ker says:

        Agree. Think the options/technology available now does change the game a bit and would have changed his calculus.

  8. avatar JohnF says:

    I agree with the intent of Cooper’s rules, but I have worked in the safety business and safety rules must be written so they can be taken literally. Cooper’s rules cannot be taken literally, so they are poorly written.

    1. All guns are always loaded. Even if they are not, treat them as if they are. If you were to take this literally there could be no dry firing, no function-checking, etc. It should read, “Assume any gun you pick up is loaded until you have positively verified it is not loaded.”

    2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy. Taken literally, the muzzle could never be pointed at anything except a target or a bad guy. Think of where your guns are right now, loaded or not, holstered or stored or not. If any of them went off, would it destroy something you did not want destroyed? This one should say, “Never let the muzzle of a loaded gun (see my version of rule #1) muzzle anything you are not willing to destroy.”

    3. Keep your finger off the trigger till your sights are on the target. Again, no dry firing, no function checking. Again, it should say, “A loaded gun, etc.”

    4. Identify your target, and what is behind it. I agree there is no time for this in a defensive situation. If you need to shoot to save your life, you need to shoot, period. This might be true for offensive police situations, but not SD. Also, what I learned in my SD law class was generally, “The intent follows the bullet.” At least with criminal charges, if you were justified in shooting and you miss, it’s still a good shoot. Lawsuits are something else. But who would not save their own life worrying about a lawsuit?

    5. I disagree with the proposed rule #5. What I learned in my Active Shooter class is the action of CC’ers engaging active shooters does not have a good track record. The people who save lives in AS situations are people who act as leaders getting people to safety, not wannabee gunslinger heros who try to save the day with spray and pray. Your best use of a gun in an AS situation may be suppressive fire to cover an escape.

    1. avatar william johnson says:

      Suppressive fire is rarely aimed fire; we have now circled back around to the “take the shot argument” again. In my opinion, if you have the shot take it, is good advice. Suppressive fire is only good as long as it is maintained and the opposition believes that it endangers them. How may rounds are you carrying for your CCW? How long can you maintain a 1-3 second interval of fire before you run out? Where are all of these suppressive rounds going? I would argue for aimed effective fire intended to stop the threat over popping off rounds in hopes it will intimidate the active shooter. If you suppressive fire can be aimed you might as well shoot the target and end the threat.

      1. avatar jsallison says:

        If you kill the rat bastage he’s suppressed.

    2. avatar Ken G says:

      Suppressive fire? Why…?

      You claim that CCers have a poor track record against AS and then you recommend a course of action that guarantees it…

      1. avatar JohnF says:

        You missed my main point which is that getting people to safety is strategy #1, whether you are armed or not. You should avoid shooting because you will draw fire toward the people you are trying to save.

        I made myself misunderstood about the suppressive fire thing. It was intended as a “maybe, if” marginal strategy if one has a gun. And I didn’t recommend it, the instructors at the AS course I took at the NRA HQ did. I’m just the messenger. Their ideas were based on analysis of actual AS incidents. If it is not helpful to you, disregard it.

    3. avatar SteveInCO says:

      Your rule #1 is still incomplete.

      What if you WANT the gun to be loaded? (E.g, you’re putting it on to engage in carry in public.) You certainly don’t want to assume it’s loaded! Maybe it’s empty, and that would be rather embarassing should a Bad Guy decide to do bad guy things.

      It should be “Make no assumptions about whether the gun is loaded until you have checked it. In particular, do not assume it’s loaded if you want it to be loaded, and do not assume it’s unloaded if you want it to be unloaded.”

      I used to be very good about checking that a gun was unloaded (when I wanted it to be), and very bad about checking that a gun was loaded (when I wanted it to be).

      Other than that, I like the thought process behind your suggested revisions (and even the old way, his rule #1 had the same fundamental issue).

      1. avatar SteveInCO says:

        Should read “make no assumptions about whether or not a gun is loaded” in my proposed text.

    4. avatar neiowa says:

      Unless you can prove your statement that should be
      What I learned in my Active Shooter class , is that in the opinion of one $10/hr instructor is the action of CC’ers engaging active shooters does not have a good track record,

      1. avatar JohnF says:

        Well it was two very experienced instructors, one of whom teaches the same course to law enforcement. It was taught at the NRA HQ in Fairfax. Their opinions were based on analysis of actual AS incidents, including the guy who got shot in Vegas trying to engage an AS in a store. The AS’s female partner took the defender out.

        There was also the shooting in the Kenya Mall. Four government officials (not cops per se) were carrying and they got together and tried to engage one of the shooters. The result was one of the defenders was seriously wounded and the rest were forced to retreat. The shooters in Kenya were heavily armed and well trained. They were expecting armed resistance and had planned for it. Relative amateurs with handguns were no match. And more importantly, one of the defenders went on to save a lot of lives shepherding survivors to safety.

  9. avatar Removed_californian says:

    Seems sensible. Wouldn’t make it a rule as it likely would be instinct. I doubt that when the adrenaline gets flowing that one will be nearly as focused on collateral as one is focusing on the primary target.

  10. avatar Ralph says:

    Flinging lead is going to make things worse, not better.

    Nick Melli was confronted with exactly this issue during the Clackamas Town Center shooting in 2012. He held fire, unwilling to be a danger to others. Had he opened fire and killed an innocent, he’d might still be in jail.

    1. avatar Cliff H says:

      He held his fire and got himself shot and now lives in a wheelchair. The fact that the AS then went into a service hallway and shot himself was not a consequence that could have been expected. Somewhere there is a video clip from a movie – “Don’t talk when you should be shooting.”

  11. avatar Dave Gibson says:

    There’s nothing in the Four Rules about not taking the shot. Rule #4 simply says to identify the target and what is behind it. It doesn’t say not to shoot. It means be aware. It means acting responsibly. The alternative is to just fire downrange willy-nilly, which is what a lot of anti-gunners say will happen.

    1. avatar Skyler says:

      Exactly. This proposed Rule 5 is not necessary and at the most should only be a corollary to Rule 4.

  12. avatar Rusty Owen says:

    Rule 5 is “don’t try to catch a falling gun” in my circles.

    1. avatar anaxis says:

      As difficult as it is to avoid the reflex, “Never try to catch a falling gun” is my personal Rule #5, amended to include “Never lean a rifle against a flat surface/wall”.
      No matter how stable it seems to be, as soon one’s back is turned, it’ll decide to assume a horizontal rest position on the floor.

      1. avatar SteveInCO says:

        Inside corners are useful for that. One time when I lived with a POTG roommate it wasn’t long before every inside corner had little black marks where the muzzle of some rifle(s) had rested.

  13. avatar Paul says:

    I had the honor of meeting Col. Cooper at the GRPC in Phoenix in about 2004 or 2005. I was struck by how old he appeared, and I can’t say I was surprised by his demise.
    The four rules are simple, easy to memorize, and in most situations fairly complete. One can add other rules, such as “don’t handle firearms when drunk”, but violating that rule typically does not cause problems unless one or more of the four are violated. It is easy to pick at rules. Especially “all guns are always loaded”, since it is demonstrably false. But they are an excellent starting point, and I cannot think of a tragic event involving firearms in which they are not broken.

    Having had a patient who perforated his hand by trying to catch a falling Tokarev, I can agree with “Never try to catch a falling gun”.

  14. avatar Tommy Knocker says:

    Clint Smith on the 4 rules…. nothing else to say.

    1. avatar tdiinva (Now in Wisconsin) says:

      Bravo. The only modification I make is to reverse rules 3 & 4. Keep your finger off the trigger until you identify your target and what’s behind it. Trigger disciple had gone our the window with the introduction of the Glock style “safety: trigger.


      Q: what gun makes the loudest noise?

      A: The one that wasn’t loaded

  15. avatar LC Judas says:

    As best I can honestly see…#4 covers what you want to get across.

    You word #5 proposed as “taking shots you aren’t sure of while unsure of your backstop” when that premise is a lie.

    You ARE sure of your target. You may miss but you are doing what you can.
    You ARE sure of what is beyond. A backdrop of innocents and likely expensive things.

    You know those things. You take the shot, or not, in accordance with your assessment of the best course of action. No rule, being static, can define a constant course of action regarding something dynamic and fluid by nature.

  16. avatar Indiana Tom says:

    Jeff Cooper was OK, but I think he sort of ran hot and cold on some issues. He was too 1911 .45acp centric. I don’t think the guy had all that much combat experience, but he could organize and deliver information in an engaging and informative manner. He actually was a good organizer and instructor.

    1. avatar Joel says:

      Col. Cooper also had fond words for the CZ 75 DA/SA gun. I don’t know where the author got his info but I have read numerous articles where Cooper praised the CZ. As do I….

      1. avatar SteveInCO says:

        I suspect the colonel liked the CZ-75 almost entirely because it runs cocked-and-locked, just like a 1911. (What did he think of the Browning Hi Power, I wonder?) The DA mode thus simply serves as a second strike capability unless you for some reason WANT to put the hammer down on a loaded round (then you have to carefully manually decock it.)

        I don’t know what he would have thought of the newer decocker models, that run more like a Beretta 92 G.

        IMHO the CZ-75B (no decocker) is *superior* to the 1911 because, based on what I’ve personally witnessed, it jams a LOT less.

    2. avatar Joseph Quixote says:

      The man arguably did more for shooting than anyone in the last fifty years. I think I will trust his opinion more than the keyboard commandos at TTAG.

  17. avatar TwinReverb says:

    How about Rule #5 including “use ammunition designed to (hopefully) stop in your target and not harm unintended targets behind him or her”? That would make a whole lot of sense.

    Cooper’s 4 rules were written to what he probably considered rational, thinking people, would would already understand the caveat you propose in rule #5 🙂

  18. avatar Bud Harton says:

    “suppressive fire” used by the police of a civilian is NEVER okay unless you find yourself in a world without rule of law (WROL) or a true zombie apocalypse. Anybody that says it is has either seen to many action movies or is playing COD to an obsession.

    Too often cops just open fire hoping to hit something and the end result is wounded civilians or dead innocent bystanders. Bangers use suppressive fire in drivebys and in other gang ambushes and the end result is the same, wounded, maimed and dead innocents.

    Suppressive fire is used by the military during war. Not even a police SWAT team should be authorized or even contemplate using suppressive fire and as a matter of fact, I really can’t understand why police need full auto weapons.

    1. avatar tdiinva (Now in Wisconsin) says:

      And suppressive fire has a specific intent. It is used to enable movement or to pin the enemy down so can deliver artillery and/or air strikes against his position.

  19. avatar Dale in Shawnee says:

    What very few people verbalize is that the four rules are applicable only when HANDLING a firearm. If you don’t accept that, then you better start believing all those passively constructed discharge stories. “I was cleaning my pistol and it just went off.”

    Who knows what it’s pointed at throughout the day. Undoubtedly at plenty of things I’d prefer not to destroy but it’s in a quality holster with the trigger properly covered. Same thing when it’s in a safe. Once I start touching it, that’s when the rules come into play.

    1. avatar SteveInCO says:

      Perhaps the rules should be retitled The Four Rules of Firearms Handling Safety.

  20. avatar W says:

    I think that Cooper understood the presence of civilians and there challenges that they provide. Identify your target and what is behind it is not contradictory to this. For example, Cooper was a founding force behind IPSC. IPSC, to it’s credit uses what used to be called hostage targets. Yes, sometimes difficult choices must be made.

    Actually, for me, that presents the biggest dilemma to the modern practical shooter. Does one ingrain and make subconscious many shooting tasks or does one intend for the conscious mind to take a role in all firearms actions? Repetitive training tends to cause the former. The finger touches the trigger as part of the natural extension. This boosts speed. But is this what the “real world” shooter wants and needs?

  21. avatar JackieO says:

    NO, never deliberately disregard #4. It may happen as a result of combat, but never disregard bystanders. Then you become the NYPD. When possible acquire target and shoot to kill. May it never come to pass.
    Col. Cooper, why are you always armed? ” Evil exists in the World. Be grateful there is a means to stop it.”

  22. avatar clickboom says:

    Jeff Cooper liked the CZ75

  23. avatar Skyler says:

    I like how Col. Cooper is using a tea cup grip. Don’t tell the tacticools!

    1. avatar Biff says:

      No he isn’t.

    2. avatar CarlosT says:

      That’s the kneeling version of the Weaver stance, of which Cooper was a strong proponent.

  24. avatar ropingdown says:

    “Colonel Jeff Cooper …..had a storied career as a Marine Corps officer in WWII and Korea”

    Where do you get this stuff? Cooper spent his part of WWII on the USS Pennsylvania patrolling the US Pacific coast. He was apparently assigned to a non-front-line unit in Korea, although years after the war his people began to say he’d nonetheless had some contact with the enemy. Perhaps they were referring to infiltrators?

    Storied? No. Having inquired, I still have no evidence he was ever in a shooting battle or gunfight. I’m open, of course, to documented attestations to the contrary.

    1. avatar Cliff H says:

      Sometimes Google and Wikipedia are helpful for background biographical information. Sometimes, not so much.

      1. avatar ropingdown says:

        Wikipedia’s entry appears to be maintained by JC friends and family. Google actually can connect you with some long-time employees. Your comment says nothing directly to the point: Is there any documentation that JC was in a front-line battle or involved in civilian shootouts as some well-known police types were? Fairbairn comes to mind…a seminal figure in the defensives area whom Cooper barely (ever?) acknowledged. From whence, other than allusions in his own speech and writing, did the presumption of Cooper’s combat experience arise?

        Clearly Cooper’s family was affluent enough that he could attend Stanford and take expensive hunting trips during college. He also seems to have felt financially secure enough to spend more than a decade teaching part-time while focusing on shooting sports fun at Big Bear Lake… before moving out to the AZ desert to settle down.

        Seen without a “storied” military career or police background, Cooper was still an interesting man. I can’t, however, take any of his weapons preferences or political pronouncements as firearms scripture.

  25. avatar David says:

    “Once the threat appears to have stopped, DO NOT APPROACH the shooter. Keep him covered with your weapon, call or have someone else call for help, and respond immediately to any commands from “First Responders”.”

    A.K.A. Let him/her bleed out 🙂

    On the reel, putting fire on an active shooter is a good idea. In lieu of that “tanking” is not bad either. If you got to die – a glorious mag dump by an active shooter trying to “stop the threat” sure beats dying while cowering in a corner.

  26. avatar Jim B says:

    Cooper was a bombastic old liar that never was a colonel but nevertheless referred to himself as one. Maybe a Kentucky colonel like Sanders. The highest rank he achieved was Lt. Colonel. He was drummed out of the Marines after Korea. He didn’t retire a Light Colonel so didn’t have the right to use that title let alone Colonel.

    He was so full of BS it is pitiful yet people buy what he said even today I guess because it has been repeated so much.

  27. avatar Nelson says:

    That’s nice and all Dan. But this ain’t IsIsRaEl.

    The possible bystander behind your addendum 5, maybe wife and daughter of a mobster, who doesnt give a damn about your ‘heroics’ seeing as how you just neglected to see what’s behind the active shooter coming at you, and directly killed a mafiosi’s wife & daughter.

    Stick to the keyboard Dan.

    1. avatar Cliff H says:

      FYI, Dan is the TTAG editor who cleaned this up and posted it, I am the author.

    2. avatar Cliff H says:

      And BTW, anyone can go around slinging hypotheticals to counter an argument such as mine. How about this one: A gnarly mobster or drug cartel kingpin finds out you had the AS in your sights and did nothing while AS shot and killed mobster/gangster’s wife and kids and 20 other people?

      1. avatar Nelson says:

        Newsflash: how the hell is a mobster gonna know I didn’t do anything, with multiple bystanders alongside me doing equally nothing, especially when I was CCW, and say I’m a cold mofo and didn’t care to be a Good Samaritan and left the scene without anyone knowing, genius?

        You think you actually made a contra-hypothetical with that argument?

        But really, it doesn’t even have to be a hypothetical mobster. Your own scenario posits a situation in which there maybe multiple bystanders. And your wannabe heroics rationalizing your own life worthy more than others’ (which, granted IS natural) without any care for backdrop or bystanders.

        What’s the possibility that you’re gonna hit someone, because you’re the kind of careless person who’s already rationalizing scenarios in which you’re self-bubbled worldview separated from realities of both civil and felonious ramifications, let alone a lack of moral consequences, will in fact suck at trigger discipline under pressure that like NYPD monkeys, you too will end up shooting more innocent bystanders, than the assailant?

        Your premise sucks. Your rationalization sucks. Your tactical acumen sucks. Your legality acuman sucks. And frankly, check your moral compass: ’cause that too sucks.

        And, your rebuttal really sucks, if you honestly think positing non-sequitur extrapolation to evade the faulty premise of your initial postulation that already felt flat, is gonna upend poor logic.

        Newsflash: if you shoot an innocent bystander ‘by accident,’ even when trying to save yourself and others? The surviving victims of your kill ain’t gonna give a damn that you’re alive and their loved ones are dead: they’re gonna want some justice and/or ‘satisfaction,’ capice?

        Logic that, genius.

        PS. Sorry Dan: I apologize for thinking this Addendum 5 tactikool idiocy was posited by you; shoulda known better. xD

  28. avatar Louis Marschalko says:

    Col. Cooper’s life and work has faded far too fast from our collective consciousness. He was, and we hope he shall be remembered as, “The last Victorian gentleman.”

  29. avatar Justsomeguy says:

    Don’t mess with perfection.

  30. avatar achmed says:

    Cooper’s weapon choice is out of date.

    The Four Rules are good. We don’t have a problem with the details of safety rules, we have a problem with bad legislation and policy.

    We had violence and gun fights back in the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s when he developed his safety system. Some herpa derpa Islamist assholes don’t really change the basics of violent combat.

    Besides your new rule 5 involves judgment, not so simple to follow and therefore less useful as a safety rule.

    1. avatar Cliff H says:

      The only safety aspect of my Rule #5 was for the safety of those personas still in front of the Active Shooter’s weapon, as opposed to a moderate risk to those who might be behind the AS.

      The only reason to consider Rule #5 is if the safety of innocent lives outweighs the possibility of unintentional collateral damage. It is most definitely a judgment call and the point I was trying to make is that as with a lot of training scenarios it is something you really need to think seriously about BEFORE you need to make the call.

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