I see it on the range and all the time in gun stores: someone pointing a firearm at something they’re [thankfully] not willing to destroy. In case you think that’s no biggie, a gun store owner once revealed that he’d received a brand new AR with a round in the chamber. But do I really need to justify my aversion to having someone point a gun at me? I do not. But what I do need . . .

Is a way to remind the person behind the gun that they really should exercise muzzle discipline. I’d like to go with a Mr. T-like “I pity the fool who muzzles me again.” Unfortunately, I sold my gold chains to buy a Cabot and age has severely diminished my desire for anything other than keyboard confrontation. Suggestions?

Recommended For You

76 Responses to Question of the Day: What Do You Say To Someone Who’s Mishandling a Gun?

  1. I usually try to be as polite as possible but also firm as the situation demands. Just for an example I see someone firing a handgun in a lane and they have a malfunction and what do they do they turn around and wave The Gun Barrel across four more Lanes of people shooting and a cross everybody in the back that is watching and videotaping and getting ready to get in there Lane immediately grabbed the pistol pointed upward take it out of their hands bringing them back to the stall set their weapon down and be like if you have a problem or a malfunction you can’t figure it out just come and get me I’ll be more than happy to help you in any way I can but you never ever point that weapon across people or at yourself because at no time at all it could clear itself under spring tension and if you have your finger on the trigger like you did you can shoot someone or yourself. Yeah I call that stuff getting killed I see guys I hand an unloaded and checked before I hand it to them pistol they wish to be looking at to purchase maybe the first thing they do is turn sideways and point it down the countertop right at customers and other employees I go please raise the barrel up in the air immediately sometimes they get a little irritated but I’m like don’t ever point a weapon loaded or unloaded at another human being or anything you wish not to destroy. Sometimes you just have to be firm because they probably will remember that embarrassing moment and he may have saved their lives or the lives of their family members or friends or what not.

  2. I’m not really a guy who needs to “fix” everything around me that I perceive is wrong. I just quietly leave when gun mishandling is occurring. Or an LEO shows up in the shop for their discounted Glock.

      • Who died and left me the Safety Monitor?

        I switched from the public range to a private club years ago strictly to avoid the unsafe a$$hats.

        Safety Monitor is viewed as the bad guy the vast majority of the time. No thanks.

        • Exactly. I was overseeing a hunters ed course and sounded like a broken record every time I pointed out when a students finger automatically went for the trigger or when others in the room were muzzled. Many of the students were clueless and went from sorry to embarrassied to angry that I kept pointing out their unsafe actions. It became my fault this was happening and if I would stop pointing it out it would no longer be an issue.

          By Range day, little changed. Now they are all newly minted hunters free to trigger and muzzle with reckless abandon.

          Big difference between oversight and accountability.

        • If it was a hunter SAFETY course, and they were doing UNSAFE things, why did they pass and become those newly ‘newly minted hunters’? Oh yeah, because NO ONE fails a hunter ‘safety’ ‘coirse’… Seems that things need to change… but don’t, and won’t, because feelings…

  3. Be polite but very, VERY firm when someone muzzles you. If you have to grab the firearm to point it in a safe direction, do it. Better to have someone’s feelings hurt than their body or somebody else’s hurt. Like the gentleman above, I’ve had to grab a pistol in a shooter’s hand and point it downrange while serving as an RSO. Yeah, the guy was embarrassed but I’m sure he got over it. The shooter in the next lane may not have gotten over being shot – ever.

  4. Depends. When I can be relatively confident (not totally, as there’s always a chance) that the weapon is not loaded, like in a gun store or at a gun show, I’ll politely but firmly ask them to keep the muzzle downrange. If I am at a range and there is a high chance the weapon is loaded, any semblance of civility completely disappears. “Will you please be more careful where you’re pointing that?” turns into “QUIT MUZZLING PEOPLE YOU GOD DAMNED IDIOT!”

    I’d rather be blunt and alive than polite and dead.

    • Exactly.

      Of course, I have an asshole streak at times (ask any of my wives! Oh, the current Mrs Button is a SAINT!) I kind of enjoy being righteously indignant. And loud.

  5. I spent some time as a rifle instructor, and in that time, played RSO, along side of all of my other instructors. Plenty of newer students would do things like that, sweep the line, or just blatantly mishandle the weapon, which we automatically perceive as dangerous, and correct as fast as possible, as safe as possible. I personally just talk to them, as a person, and treat them with the respect they deserve, while still properly correcting the situation, whether it be in front of the whole of the class, or one on one.

  6. Usually I’ll just ask the gun store / range employee to handle it. I’m on a first name basis with many of them and I’m drinking buddies with others. Many times it’s as simple as pointing at the safety poster on the wall.

    Otherwise: Do you want me to point my gun at you? No? Then don’t point your gun at me. Thanks.

  7. Ive left ranges due to unsafe conditions. The last time it was a range I had never been to. Indoors with 10 shooting points. But. No Range Officer in the room nor a booth for one. An idjit playing Dirty Harry pointing the muzzle all over the place. I asked in a pretty stern voice to the person to cut out the shit. This isnt your living room. It stopped, but I did see him pointing the muzzle out of the booth yet again and left.
    I then left the range and demanded my range fees back. With an explanation.

  8. One time I was at an indoor range with a friend who was shooting at the time. I was standing behind the line watching the other shooters. The person in the lane one or two over from us ended up with a revolver in their hand and turned around to talk to or ask a question to their shooting partner, muzzling everyone to their left in the process. I ended up basically just pointing firmly and shouting “NO!” at them. They realized what they had done and immediately turned around and put the revolver down. Thankfully the revolver was unloaded and the cylinder was open at the time, but it does show that in the moment it’s important to be clear and decisive. Afterwards the range officer came over to me and thanked me for seeing it and stopping them.

  9. Since I’m an R/O at my range, I politely inform them that if they EVER do that again, I will eject them from the range. Permanently.

    • It has been my experience that you can’t actually practice at a range with an officer. The ones I have seen, you have to train exactly like you don’t fight. So I go to one where I am usually alone.

      • As do I. Im not at a range to target shoot. Im there to use my gun as I may have to some day.
        99.9% of indoor ranges you cant do that.
        I picked the oldest crappiest range in my area. If there are no other shooters. Im allowed to do as I please.

    • Gun shows don’t have RSOs.
      And I like gun shows.
      Only heard one NDC at a gun show: I never saw so many people hit the floor so fast since I left the Army!

      I was walking down an aisle once, and a guy at a table aimed a rifle across several tables right in front of me; I just raised the bbl, and he immediately got that “What did I just do??!!” look, and apologized. (As an aside, due to cancer surgery, I can’t be easily understood when I talk, so in my case, actions are better than words many times.)

  10. This is a slightly different story. I had been watching a guy a couple lanes over who had brought a couple newbie family members with him. He appeared to be firearms knowledgeable, but not terribly familiar with this range. I think his mind was preoccupied with a large number of questions and issues with his guests.

    The RO had called a cease-fire and a minute had gone by, and this guy proceeded to the walkway headed towards the targets. I immediately said loudly, if hesitantly, “Hey mister!” The RO had not given the all-clear. This man froze and replied to me “Thank you so much. What was I thinking!”

    • If we are going to tell stories…
      This one time, when I was in OCS, we had marched back from the firing range.
      Those who have ever been in this situation know how many times each soldier does an ‘inspection arms’ to ensure his rifle is clear. For those who don’t, for me, it was AT LEAST three times at the range. ‘Inspection arms’ requires the soldier to operate the operating handle to open the bolt, lock the bolt back, and peer into the chamber to ensure he does not give the inspecting office a loaded weapon. After the inspection, the soldier allows the bolt to slam closed, and pulls the trigger, all from the ‘port arms’ position. We had M-14s

      So we have marched back to the company area, standing in platoon formation. A final ‘inspection arms’ command is given, and we all open the bolt and lock it back, checking the chamber to make sure it’s empty (can you guess where I’m going?). On the command “port arms” we all release the bolt and pull the trigger.
      BLAM!
      Yes, someone (thankfully not in my platoon) had his weapon fire. How he didn’t notice during a minimum of FOUR chamber checks that there was one round of 7.62 NATO ball ammunition in there, I don’t know. But he did.

      I never hand anyone any firearm that doesn’t have its action open. I will not accept any firearm that doesn’t have its action open (unless it’s in a box).
      I always assume any firearm around me is loaded.
      But I still walk the aisles of gun shows.

    • I’ve done the same thing. I was having a great day at the range, dialed in etc. Got excited and wanted to collect my target. RO scolded me (rightfully so) and I sheepishly went back to the line. Won’t make that mistake again. The embarrassment was well worth it.

  11. Depends on the day, age of the offender, and my general mood, but I’ve gone from “Hey bud, watch your muzzle” to “Point that thing at me one more time and I’ll make sure it never cycles again!”

    Like another guy said, I’d rather hurt someone’s feelings and be alive than be polite and dead. Usually the ones guilty of doing it aren’t very confrontational anyway and quickly correct themselves after the reminder.

  12. I think it wouldl be foolish to interrupt someone with a gun in their hand. Afterall, it is a gun they are mishandling. Do you want to get in the middle of that? Maybe wait until they disentangle themselves, then ask if they would be interested in some observations you made while they handled the gun. Maybe?

  13. I screwed up at the range the other day. I was putting my firearm away, and noticed that the insides of the optic’s dustcaps had gotten dirty, and I was trying to beat the clock to get the thing put away before the next ceasefire.

    Rifle was empty, but in the process of trying to blow the dust out of the dustcaps, I managed to point the muzzle up towards the firing line’s roof.

    RO just shouted “watch your muzzle” at me, and, suitably chastened and horrified, I did just that and got the thing away safely before going about the rest of my day. That’s a mistake I won’t make again in a hurry.

    • On that experience, I never attempt to do maintenance when I’m through shooting; I just pack it away, and wait until I get home.
      Dust on the optics? I can clean it at home, especially if I’m fighting a time constraint.
      I’ll be you do, too, now. 🙂

    • I was adjusting a sight on my pistol last week when I realized I was waving the damn thing all over – still downrange, but not necessarily my lane. I took the slide off, made my adjustments, and went about my day.

  14. Depends how egregious the offense is. Reactions range from a polite comment about the 4 rules. To yelling and cursing if someone life is at risk. Never be afraid to intervene to help someone. They might be happier with getting yelled at than killing their friends or anyone else at the range

  15. A polite “Excuse Me…” and a description of the event usually suffices.

    The second time is more blunt.

    The third time involves you packing up your stuff and leaving the range. If the incident is serious enough it may warrant a suspension.

    Only a few people have ever been completely banned. And that was after they had angered every club on the range.

  16. Thankfully I haven’t seen much of this kind of problem.

    When I have sometimes I’ve politely said something, sometimes others have been quicker about saying something than I have. I’ve left once because the behavior was unsafe and OTT enough that I doubted it would stop.

    In one case I did remove the firing pin from a guy’s rifle, while he was out smoking a cigarette, and put it in his range bag so that he would go away.

    • I’d probably appreciate someone sternly telling me what I did wrong, rather than screwing with MY equipment… of course, that’s just me. Maybe you’re agreeable to that kind of silliness…

      • Some of us learned the hard way that leaving your rifle lying around might lead to trouble.

        Further, if you don’t want some asshole like me to fuck with your gear, maybe, just maybe you should have listened the first five goddamn times you were told not to do something instead of being a prick about it and acting like everyone else is the bad guy for calmly and reasonably telling you to stop breaking every gun safety rules known to man.

        When please and thank you fail, expect more aggressive actions will be taken to curb your stupidity.

        Besides, it’s not like I stole anything.

        • Explains the horror stories on the net about unreliable guns. Maybe Remington was actually putting out a quality product but you kept fucking with the stuff on public ranges. 🙂

  17. At a shop, I’ll back up a couple of steps with a pointed look at the person. I’ve never had someone not get the hint, so Imnot sure what I’d do if it happened a second time.

    On the flip side are the folks that get themselves muzzled. This usually happens in shops when someone is examining the firearm and has it pointed to the the side of the counter. Another person isn’t paying attention and walks in front of the muzzle. That’s the awkward one for the person handling the firearm – do you warn the other other customer or do you bring it down and point elsewhere?

  18. I was in a gun store when a guy brought a Smith and Wesson revolver in with a broken cylinder awl. While the clerk was doing paperwork to have it sent for repairs he kept on clicking it and working the trigger, as if he needed to keep demonstrating the issue. I looked him square in the eye and told him to put the fucking gun down and stop playing with it.
    And he did. The counter clerk should have taken it away from him long before it got to that point.

  19. Several of the gun clubs in my area use range safety officers. If no RSO is available, the range is closed. You can’t shoot even if you are by yourself. The RSO is authorized to evict serious offenders.

    My club isn’t that formal. Instead, each member is actively encouraged to watch for safety violations and intervene immediately. We are to be polite and friendly, giving assistance rather than enforcing rules. If the reaction is negative or even hostile, we are to report the incident to the club’s officers for further action.

  20. We were teaching a friends step son how to shoot, he was 16 at the time. Pointed my heirloom .22 at me several times, first couple i redirected the barrel down range, and i believe it was the third time i put the muzzle straight up, firmly in my hand, and with my right hand pushed him at the chest firmly and told him flat out, if i look down the barrel of ny gun one more time ill fuck you up, his dad told him he should respect my wishes…

  21. At the gun shop, I’ve presented a gun in the case it came in, to the clerk, and asked him to look at it, due to difficulties. He is in charge of opening the case and checking the gun. Unfortunately, I’ve been in the same gun shop when a customer came in, took two steps and proceeded to pull out his holstered gun before he even got to the counter. Real ass about being verbally reprimanded.

    At the range, usually the RSO sees it before I do.

  22. when I was about 8 or 9, my grandfather taught me to shoot a BB gun. I can still hear him telling me that I wasn’t allowed to shoot HIS birds or HIS squirrels and if I ever pointed it at someone I better be ready to kill them. About a day or two later I asked him if I could get the BB gun out to go shooting in the backyard. On my way out the back door with it I muzzled him while he was sitting at the kitchen table. He cracked me damned hard across the back of the head and asked me if I intended to kill him. It was such a stunning moment, the only time I can ever remember him being angry with me or laying a hand on me, that to this day I am hyper aware of muzzling anyone. Even people being muzzled in movies makes me cringe.

    Funny addendum, at the RSD Ben Clark Range qualifying for my CCW, the sheriff on duty inspected my EDC (unloaded) for alterations and promptly muzzled me. I stepped back and left sharply and looked at him like he was an idiot. He made no visible expression but turned away slightly and continued to ‘inspect’ my firearm, pointed in a safe direction.
    “Only one’s” my ass.

  23. I usually ask politely to check out their gun. I then proceed to point it at their face and dry fire it rapidly several times. I then give it back and say “cool gun!” Or something to that effect. I figure if someone muzzlesweeps you then you have a free pass to do that.

  24. My wife spent a while as a Basic Training Company Commander and one cycle, she had a private flag her twice. The first time the PVT(female) got told not to do it again. The second, my wife snatched her rifle away, gave it to the nearest Drill SGT who proceeded to berate the PVT.

  25. I’m sorry but I was taught from an early age not to aim anything that I wasn’t wanting to shoot. Whether that be toy guns, paint guns or real guns. Needless to say there weren’t any nerf gun battles but it was a way to teach gun safety with always having a mindset that nothing will be shot at unless intended on.

  26. Lhstr, in my gun range we have a bunch of ranges where two can shoot at a time the RSO is yourself. So If I’m there first they ask me if they can shoot with me. Thats when the safety questions come out. I have yet to be muzzled if that happens there are no second chances. Be safe out there.

  27. Last time I recall someone doing this I noted a finger on the trigger as well. I dropped to the ground. While the less-than-responsible shooter was staring at me, I moved out of the muzzle line, stood, and took hold of the gun. Then I explained what had just not happened.

  28. What do you say?

    – Point that piece of crap at me again and I’ll shove it up your ass sideways…….sir. (always be polite and always have a plan to kill anyone you meet)

  29. What do you say to a friend who’s taught his kid to “teacup grip” a pistol? How do I explain to him why my 12 year old daughter shoots his 1911 better that both him and his 17 yr old son do?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *