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And always be sure of what’s behind your target. A Fresno County sheriff’s deputy is lucky to have avoided serious injury last weekend. He was responding to a report of shots fired in a semi-rural area near Squaw Creek when a bullet hit him in the leg. Luckily for him (and for our amazingly-stupid IGOTD) the bullet struck the EDC knife in the officer’s pocket . . .

The lucky cop is only out a pocket knife and a pair of trousers and has a gnarly bruise, but several people were detained for investigation after a police helicopter spotted them a distance downhill with guns and ammunition. Make the jump over to The Truth About Knives for the rest of the story, as well as other documented instances of knives saving lives by blocking bullets.

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  1. I hate “all guns are always loaded.” Obviously, this rule is a lie, and problematic as well. Many guns require a trigger pull to strip. Can’t well do that if the gun is loaded. At a certain point, we have to make sure the gun is not loaded to do some things we would never do if it were loaded. “All guns are always loaded” treats a problem by going to some unnecessary extreme.

    • Exactly. According to Rule #1, you can never disassemble your Glock and Rule #2 won’t let you remove the barrel bushing from your 1911.

      I read a post recently where someone suggested something along the lines of “All guns are always loaded, until I have checked it for myself”.

      I do, however, agree with absolutism with Rules #1 and #2 insofar as safe handling, never letting them point in an unsafe direction, etc.

      • The rules I were taught were worded as such:
        1. Treat every firearm as if it were loaded unless you have checked it yourself.
        2. Be aware of your target as well as what is behind and around it.
        3. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to fire.
        4. Do not point a firearm at anything you do not intend to destroy.

        • I would phrase #1, “Always treat all guns as if they are loaded even if you have checked it yourself.”

          Is there any harm in always keeping the muzzle pointed in safe direction even if it is unloaded? Call me paranoid but I get uncomfortable looking down the wrong end of a barrel even if it’s unloaded and mostly disassembled…

        • 1. Treat all firearms as if loaded (even if YOU have checked).

          No one was ever shot by a firearm that was pointed away from them.

        • Treat them as if they were loaded even when you know they are not. Some person could walk in, and not knowing the weapon is empty, perform a DGU on YOU by mistake because you were pointing it at some one who did not need to be ventilated. There are a lot of situations where it could happen. better to be safe then dead. Sorry is for the guy who found out afterward you weren’t going to kill anyone.

      • In Canada we have the 4 Vital ACTS

        Assume the firearm is loaded
        Control the muzzle direction
        Trigger finger off the trigger
        See the gun is safe, PROVE it.

        Point the gun in a safe direction
        Remove the magazine
        Observe the chamber
        Verify the feeding path
        Examine the bore

      • I do, however, agree with absolutism with Rules #1 and #2 insofar as safe handling, never letting them point in an unsafe direction, etc.

        Sometimes it’s necessary to inspect the bore. I do that by putting an eyeball on the muzzle and shining a light from the breach. A clear chamber makes it “absolutely” safe.

        • Unless you ALREADY know the weapon is clear this seems a little backwards. If you “Always point the muzzle in a safe direction” how is looking into the muzzle a good idea?

          How about looking into the open breach and shining the light from the muzzle down the barrel? Or better yet the military tradition of sliding a cleaning rod in at the muzzle and making sure you can see the tip in the breach? (This is accomplished by slipping the rod into the barrel and giving it a quick flip while moving your hand out of the way in case something unexpected happens. Never point your weapon at anything you do not want to destroy, especially your eye or your hand.)

      • You don’t have to remove the barrel bushing from a 1911 to remove the slide. Having the pull the trigger on a Glock to field strip it is an idiotic design.

    • I’ve always interpreted it to mean “all guns should always be assumed to be loaded until proven otherwise.” But I don’t really have a huge problem with how it’s worded. It’s just a mantra, not a statement about reality, and it errs on the side of caution.

      I’m pretty sure Rule 1 originated as a reply to the ever popular “I didn’t know it was loaded!” excuse for a ND. Well, of course it was loaded. It’s a gun, which means it’s either loaded or a paperweight.

    • And yet we still have idiots who shoot themselves because the don’t follow the rule of ‘the gun is always loaded’. I have seen a couple of articles about even LEO’s shooting themselves when pulling the trigger on their Glock to remove the slide……You should always write instructions (or rules) so simple that any idiot can understand them.

    • I get that. The four rules have been paraphrased many times, but this is a bad wording of the first rule. Better to say to “treat all guns as if they were loaded,” point being never to assume said firearm is unloaded. Many even apply this rule after setting a firearm down for just a few seconds.

      And yes, rule four is a bit incomplete as well.

      • Rule #4 is mistated. You need to know more than making sure you have the right target. What happens if you miss? Rule #4 as stated allows you to blaze away as long as you “know” what your target is. You also have to ensure that a miss will be harmless and not hit your neighbor.

    • I prefer “Treat all guns as if they are loaded.” So if you need to drop the hammer or decock, be sure of the other rules before you pull it.

    • You’re over thinking it…

      Most ND stories start out, “I thought the gun wasn’t loaded…”

      And, the assclownary goes on from there, leading to people getting hurt.

      The most dangerous words said in regards to guns, “It’s OK, it’s unloaded…”

      The first one is all about starting out with proper mindset while handling guns.

    • Youre taking it literally. The rule means when habdling any gun, treat it if its loaded.
      Obviously when youre disassembling or any other task like that youll clear it and do what you need to do.
      Youre taking it literally, as if never under any circumstance can you do it.
      Its just common sense, when youre HANDLING a gun, treat it as if its loaded.

    • I have more of an issue with firearm designs that require trigger manipulation to take down than I do with that rule. That said, such a design simply demands that you clear it every time, carefully, immediately before touching the trigger. And follow the other three rules, of course.

  2. My rule 1 is: “Treat all guns as if they are loaded unless redundantly proven otherwise and done so for a specific purpose.” This accommodates safe handling as well as dry fire and cleaning which the original does not.

    • Rule 3: “Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target AND you have made the decision to fire.”

  3. 1) Treat every firearm as if it is loaded.

    2) Never point at any living being or object you don’t intend to shoot.

    3) Practice safe trigger management at all times.

    4) Be certain of your target – and the background – at all times.

    These rules are highlighted concepts that encompass a host of associated issues which one must be cognizant of when deploying a firearm and shooting – under any circumstance. If someone does not know or understand these rules and their implications, s/he shouldn’t even be thinking about using a firearm without extensive training and mentoring before going out to shoot on their own.

  4. I tend to expand the four rules a bit so that they are (I hope) a bit more clear. This is what I like to use:

    (1) Assume all guns are loaded until you verify otherwise. Treat all guns as if they were loaded.

    (2) Never point the gun at anything you are not willing to destroy or kill. Keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.

    (3) Do not acquire a target if you are unsure of the situation. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.

    (4) Verify your target and what is beyond it. Do not fire if you cannot do so without unnecessary risk to others.

    I don’t know if this is the best way or not, but it seems sensible to me.

    • (1) Assume all guns are loaded until you verify otherwise. Treat all guns as if they were loaded.
      (2) Never point the gun at anything you are not willing to destroy or kill. Keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.
      (3) Do not acquire a target if you are unsure of the situation. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.
      (4) Verify your target and what is beyond it. Do not fire if you cannot do so without unnecessary risk to others.

      Rule #5 – Keep in mind that these are range/training rules. In case of DGU:

      (1a) Never assume your gun is loaded unless you have verified for yourself. Treat all defensive guns as if they were unloaded unless you have personally ensured their readiness to fire.
      (2a) Always point the gun at the person or thing you are intending to destroy or kill. Keep the gun pointed in that direction until the situation is safe again.
      (3a) Identify and acquire your target as soon as you are sure of the DGU situation. Keep your finger off the trigger until your target gives you a valid reason to fire.
      (4b) Verify your target and what is beyond it. It may sometimes be necessary to fire even if you cannot do so without some risk to others.

  5. You are all correct. The rules are not actually correct. In fact, I bet you could write a small book explaining the four rules, and all the options and specifics. But another rule to remember – KISS. Keep It Simple Stupid. The four rules can be explained when you are teaching someone, but for repeating it over and over, I like the simplicity.

    • I’m reasonably certain those rules were covered in detail in the classroom setting and that the signs were posted around the site as reminders.

  6. The key of the rules is while you should “strive” to follow all 4 at all times the reality is you can’t, but – you have to break 3 before disaster strikes. You can break 1 rule – no problem. You can break 2 rules, it’s now shaky, but usually not disastrous. Break 3 you’re probably going to be having a really bad day.
    4. Call when you get out of prison.

    • I do the same, even right after seeing someone else clear a pistol before handing it to me. I also check them several times even right after reassembling, and before placing them back in their safes.

  7. Yeah I’m going to disagree with IGOTD tag for these shooters at least on the surface. Looks like the blame lies with the Sheriff.

    Google maps says this is some pretty damn rural country, with lots of elevation changes. If the Sheriff approached the property, from Mistletoe, then he more than likely trespassed and walked into/onto their range. By the looks of it that was also a 1/2 mile hike.

  8. I don’t care who’s fault it is, really, but I do think that is one lucky dep-you-tee. I need a bigger EDC.

  9. Real life ND story:

    Following a range session, idiot friend is cleaning his revolver. Finishes, loads the gun, sets it down (pointed in a safe direction). Cleans a second and then a third gun (both semis).
    Looks at first gun, notices the fluted part of the cylinder is less than shiny. Grabs a rag, wipes until shiny. Turns gun over and sees same on the other side. Wipes that down and wants to see if it’s the same all around, so with the gun resting on his thigh HE PULLS THE TRIGGER TO TURN THE CYLINDER.

    A second or two later, once the smoke clears and the three of us in the room internalize what just happened (and confirm that everyone is OK), we curse him the f*ck out. Then we inspect the hole in the basement wall and make our exit before his wife gets home and lets him have it.

    Idiot friend broke all 4 rules and could easily have killed someone.

    And while he’s ultimately to blame, neither myself nor my other buddy had the presence of mind to realize that what he was doing was super-dangerous. All of just watched as he picked up, cleaned and pulled the trigger on a loaded gun.

  10. So “All guns are always loaded” is a lie. Our politicians and leaders consistently lie. The Gunsite Academy or whomever wrote that is just following our leaders’ actions and behaviors. For many people lying to make a point has become “OK”.

  11. i know that neighborhood a little. rural, hilly, and wooded, lots are all multi-acre. i used to live in fresno before i moved to houston. the surveying company i worked for did some work back in there a couple times. cant imagine why in the world anyone would call the police because there was some plinking going on.

    of course, none of this to say rule 4 doesnt apply.

  12. There are more rules, the first is important

    0) Do not be FN stupid, you only violate the rules WITH ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY.

    1) All guns are Always loaded

    2) Never point your gun at anything you are not going to shoot

    3) Do not touch the trigger til you need to pull the trigger

    4) Identify your target and risk assess that witch lies beyond

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