Mike Rowe safety lesson guns
Courtesy Mike Rowe and YouTube
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Mike Rowe, the well-known dirty job do-er, work raconteur and mover of the book markets, recently did a safety video that has application to shooters.

In the video, below, Rowe describes how he and his crew had attended beaucoup safety briefings during his work on the television show “Dirty Jobs.” He made the point that safety briefings weren’t really for the attendees. The safety briefings were actually for the employees and for protection of the businesses, who could point to the safety briefings as liability protection in case of an accident.

He noted in the video that despite sitting in dozens of the safety briefings across a range of work environments, his staff began suffering more accidents. He noticed the trend and thought about why these incidents had begun piling up. His answer: complacency.

He closes with the notion that safety is always an individual thing, and not a group thing. When people who are absorbed in an activity believe they are “safe” because of the presence of so-called safety staff (range safety officers), the participants can become complacent and begin making mistakes that lead to accidents.

This, of course, can be ruinous at a gun range.

Mike Rowe SHOT Show safety
Dan Z for TTAG

It’s a message he also drove home recently for an audience at this year’s SHOT Show. The thrust of the lesson he learned: when safety becomes someone else’s priority, it becomes less so for you. And that’s a recipe for trouble.

Rowe explains that safety is always and must be an individual responsibility, That’s where his video ties into shooting safety. Or, as he says, “I believe that my safety is my responsibility. I understand that being in ‘compliance’ does not necessarily mean I’m out of danger.”

It’s great advice for shooters, too.

The Four Rules of Gun Safety

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  1. Always liked him. He’s always been doing the dirty work of others and never once intentionally over stepped his means. He’s not wrong either everyone’s safety is their own and when at the range unless it’s pointed in the direction of the paper keep the bleeping booger hooks away from a trigger. Always double check the range before you set up sometimes the stall they send you to isn’t up to safety code like a broken track or the back stop looks heavily worn out in those areas. And above all else shoot at a controllable rate I can do a controlled double tap but not everyone else can, the range is about having fun and meeting new people not risking everyone around you.

    • Always liked him. He’s always been doing the dirty work of others and never once intentionally over stepped his means. …

      I’ll bet he still has smells he hasn’t gotten out of his nostrils.

    • The onlything I don’t like about the video is the Charles Koch tag at the end and that GOPelitist POS is anti-wall because he loves that cheapo illegal alien labor.

  2. Worked for a company and was in a long safety meeting where the safety director carried on forever about don’t do this and don’t do that. I finally raised my hand and asked him when the safety training would begin so we could be shown the safe ways , never got an answer or training. Company C Y A meeting only.

  3. Isn’t there a better word than “destroy” let alone for Rule#2? where did this come from? what kind of munitions are we deploying here?(let alone the conservation of mass law). always sounded goofy to my ears. sorry to pick a nit.

  4. He’s right you know…the vast # of “accidents” I’ve ever been in have been some idiot’s fault. That can be deadly at a gun range. Or on the job(I nearly got killed when a goofball cut the power on a 10ton press at factory over 40 years ago). “Luckily”a very sharp thing pinned me by my arm. Just a nasty scar…

    • Good for him. Not a big fan of his spirited defense of a better done background check system, but we gotta take what we can get

  5. I never understand “Point it at someone and pull the trigger stories”.
    If it goes off, someone gets shot.
    If it doesn’t go off, you have committed the crime of brandishing.
    There is no upside to pointing and pulling.
    It’s not funny
    So why do so many people do it?

    • The sad truth of the matter is that not all of the people given brain cells in this life are quite up to speed on how to use them. At least not for tasks beyond such simple minded actions as retaining a hat or making babies, which any chimp can also do equally well.

    • I came up with an answer to the usual counter: “But, I know it’s empty. (And what are you, an idiot that you do not.)”

      “Oh, I’m sure it’s empty, but sometimes I’m wrong.”

      I learned that one playing around, or rather not playing around, with an expended, training frag grenade a colleague had brought into work. The nerd crew loved flicking the safety n mechanism, n joking it was otherwise live. “Not one more word, or I’m blowing up that terminal n taking all of us with it!”

      Even disassbled, then reassembled — fascinating how they work internally — I couldn’t play around with it. I know it’s inert, but sometimes I’m wrong.

      I’m also the guy who unplugs the food processor before cleaning the blades, flips the wire off the spark plug before working on a chainsaw in front of the guard, n won’t touch a kitchen knife blade unless I’m sharpening it.

      My lack of macho has no shame. Both my grandfathers were missing half-fingers from a moment’s inattention.

      The anti-people, of course, get it backwards on purpose. Gunny folks are more cautious, not less; more responsible, not less; more calm, not less; more measured, not less. Gunny people don’t front off waving their bullet-spewing wands as penis substitutes.

      The few honestly scared don’t want us having guns, because they think we’ll act like them. The dishonest majority want to make it seem that way to scare the others, n shame us into compliance for what we don’t do; who we aren’t.

      Propaganda like that is harmless, so go ahead if it’s useful, or fun. It’s inert, really. Myself I don’t do that. I k ow it’s harmless, but sometimes I’m wrong.

  6. Great guy until you realize he is shilling for Construction Users Round Table (CURT) and others trying to control the construction labor market and drive down skilled trades wages as far as possible. Their battle cry is “labor shortage, labor shortage”, but they can’t seem to figure out how to raise wages.

    • Speaking as someone who has renovated a few old houses and who has had to hire more than a few skilled tradesmen, the guys around here seem to be doing all right, wage-wise. I have the cancelled checks and receipts to prove it.

  7. A sort of corollary that I keep in mind is just because someone shouldn’t doing something doesn’t mean they aren’t. That’s why you need to look to see if that car approaching the crosswalk is actually stopping. Look both ways, even when crossing a one-way street. It may seem obvious, but I think a lot of people run on the opposite assumption.

  8. Sorry to disappoint, but Mike Rowe and his foundation take a lot of money from the Kochs and other right-wing corporate interests. This message isn’t about personal responsibility, it’s about ABSOLVING employers when their shitty practices get employees killed in pursuit of their profits. It’s about destroying workplace safety regulations that keep workers from dying on the job.

    Rowe is a likeable guy, but he sold out since the Dirty Jobs days. This is straight up robber baron messaging so they don’t have to pay out when you get munched by a high-velocity machine 16 hours into your shift that didn’t get a handrail around it because the boss was too cheap.

    This is like saying “safety is your responsibility, nobody else’s, so I’m sawing the handrails off the stairs and stealing all the lockout tags.

    • Just because the cashier at the hardware store put your glue in a paper bag, doesn’t mean you have to huff it all today.

      • Why the fuck would you ever listen to someone who tells you that your life and safety are a LOWER priority than making your boss money?

        • How did your chemically-imbalanced brain take something as sensible as “the most reliable safety is the one between your ears” and twist it into “Your fat-cat corporate slavers want to take away your safety rails and PPE, because EVIL!”

          What I’m saying it that I’m pretty sure that’s just your psychosis talking, because, y’know, you’re a psycho.

        • Ark, your boss is taking all the risk. He’s paying the rent/paying the property, taxes, paying your salary, paying unemployment taxes, disability taxes, paying janitors, fixing machines. He’s gets into trouble if you get hurt. It’s not a bed a roses for any boss. I’ve been on both sides. I think employees have is easier. They go home at the end of the day, not worrying about how they’re going to make payroll. Will the bank let them rollover the operating loan? Will the government shut them down over a minor violation? It’s enough to give you a heart attack.

        • You’re an idiot who has totally missed the point.

          That point is this: Never, ever get complacent, especially in potentially unsafe conditions.

          Just last night I watched an episode of “Air Disasters,” a series that looks at air crashes and the investigations to figure out what caused the crash and how to prevent that occurrence in the future. That particular episode—”Imperfect Pitch”—looked at the crash of commercial jet piloted by a highly experienced crew.

          This particular flight was a test flight to ensure that everything was working correctly before transferring the aircraft from one airline to another. One of the goals was to test the safety systems of the computer controlled Airbus 320. The test that lead to the crash was testing the system’s stall prevention. What they didn’t know was that both the sensors that were critical to that safety system had water in them that had frozen solid.

          Even with those sensor failures, that should not have led to the loss of the aircraft and their lives. It did because the pilots were complacent. They expected and relied on that safety system to work. By the time they realized it wasn’t working, they were too far behind the curve to recover.

          Their failure to rely on themselves first for their own safety cost them their lives. The first, most effective safety system is the one between our ears. (Even yours, though there seem to be some defects.) Everything else is just a backup. If you abandon your own responsibility because there are backups, eventually that reliance will cost you.

      • And when Rowe shows up on CNN to pitch a book or his foundation, righties start screaming about how he’s sold out to the SJWs.

        In his words….he’ll sell out to anyone who offers him airtime or donations. That’s literally his job. He’s a whore for the American skilled trades worker….and he’s one of the very few.

  9. We had a safety meeting at a Gubment job I was doing. One fellow in particular was a accident magnet. After the hour speal about how to prevent accidents, through saftey awareness blah blah blah We we walking out the door and a large sign fell from the threshold and hit the guy in the head No shit.

  10. I work in the entertainment biz and the studio system has all of us lot rats attend safety meetings

    one was for ‘electrical safety’

    just after the start of one meeting I asked the presenter what his job was….’Set Carpenter’….crickets….”Why are you teaching this class and not one of my ELECTRICAL union brothers who has done anywhere from 5 years to 50 on the job, has the state plus FED certs, the class time and teaches our apprentices for many years????””

    Because I took the teaching class on this subject…..

    “RIGHT” said sarcastically “and beavers should teach birds how to fly???”””

  11. Rowe is correct and that’s why everyone on the range has the right and responsibility to call a “Cease Fire” when there’s an unsafe situation.

  12. Every accident I’ve had in the kitchen or at work was caused by distraction and/or being rushed. Thankfully, none serious.

  13. I seem to recall that Elmer Keith kept all the guns in his house loaded and he would tell visitors that they were. His thinking was that it made people more cautious and less complacent. I wouldn’t advocate that as your safety strategy, but it seemed to work for him!

  14. ” The thrust of the lesson he learned: when safety becomes someone else’s priority, it becomes less so for you. And that’s a recipe for trouble.”

    That may be the most valuable statement in the posting and is true for just about anything in life beyond personal safety. For example:

    Think the schools will do the job of raising your kids properly and reflect the values that were imparted upon you and your ancestors? Welcome to communist/socialist doctrine where they become property of the state and you cannot do anything about it.

    Can go on and on, but if we do not accept the responsibilities for maintianing the things we hold sacred and dear, whether alive or inanimate, we lose.

  15. Been in the Machining bushiness for over 30 years. My insurance company always insisted that we have regular safety meetings. And promptly after those meetings there was always an injury. found that it was better to go one on one with the Employees and discuss how to be safe. Actually i would instruct them on how not to get hurt by being a dumbass. Incidents have fallen dramatically. Be responsible for yourself and you actions.

  16. Being trained doesn’t mean squat if you don’t bother to follow the training.

    I’ve seen this in other situations. Lots of meetings and seminars and safety posters and rules and bad story posters etc etc.

    but if you don’t believe the rules are for you or forget them or don’t care then the training doesn’t mean squat.

    Too much training can be a bad thing also.

    Me I prefer my ONE RULE: The gun is loaded. The only times the gun is unloaded is when it’s taken apart. Otherwise you are at risk at all times until that weapon is taken apart again. Period. No qualifiers.

    It’s loaded and if it fires it is your fault. No matter the result no matter what you thought or intended.

  17. I spread the heretical “Safety Third” message here at work whenever I get a chance. The company I work for is severely infected with the kind of thinking on safety that Rowe is talking about.


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