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There’s a new firearms blog in town: Strap line: “Ramblings of a hanged man.” Shades of High Plains Drifter. Anyway, here’s Walter’s proposal for a gun owner’s Code of Conduct. Your thoughts?

1. I will never THREATEN to use my firearm.

2. I will never use my firearm while not in emotional control of myself.

3. I will comply with all regulations regarding my firearm no matter how strongly I disagree with them.

4. I will never allow another to come to harm, serious injury or death by my inaction regardless of the law.

5. I will never start a fight (verbal or physical) while armed no matter how right I may be.

6. If I realize I have started a fight I will retreat and do my best to prevent it from escalating, even if it involves losing face.

7. I will not allow my firearms to fall into the hands of those who are restricted or otherwise unqualified to own/use/posses them.

8. I will always obey the rules of gun safety:

  1. All guns are always loaded.
  2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.
  4. Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.

– Jeff Cooper

9. I will, without resentment or disrespect, upon verbal request from an individual of authority (owner/manager/security/etc) in a particular location either:

  1. Not bring my firearm to/into that location
  2. Not frequent that location when armed
  3. Stop coming to that location altogether

10. I will still defend from significant harm, serious injury or death those who disagree with my choice to own/carry firearms.

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  1. I find his rules somewhat lacking:

    1. I WILL certainly threaten to use a firearm to stop an attack if it does not put me at greater risk. That’s the entire concept of “challenging someone at gunpoint.”

    2. When my life or the life of my family is threatened, I may or may not be in control of my emotions. That will not stop me from using my firearm for defense.

    4. My duty is to myself and my family. I will decide very carefully whether or not to defend a 3rd party knowing full well that my intervention could result in my own death.

    5 . I will never start a fight (verbal or physical) whether I am armed or not.

    6. I will do my best to prevent or de-escalate a fight whether I have started it or not.

    8. Rule 1: All guns are always loaded!

    If guns are always loaded, I can not do dryfire practice, nor clean them. My rule is “Treat all guns as if they are loaded unless proven otherwise redundantly and are doing so for a specific purpose.

    Rule 3: Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target!

    Rule 3 is not strong enough. My rule is “Keep your finger off the trigger until the moment that you have decided to destroy whatever the gun is pointed at.

    • hmmm.somehow 2 more rules got posted since my last visit.

      9. I WILL resent any action that prevents me my right to self defense and will have no respect for the person doing so. I will demonstrate my position my not spending my time nor money at such an establishment

      10. I do not spend time with people who do not respect me so that issue will not be of concern. Also, see my version of #4.

  2. I think this guy’s rules 3 and 4 are in conflict with each other. Seems like this guy is over thinking stuff, if you follow Jeff Cooper’s 4 rules, that pretty much covers everything in my opinion. That said, I like Rabbi’s version better than the original list.

  3. Lost me with #10. Morally, sure. Legally and objectively, in this day and age, not a chance in hell. That’s not my job, and I don’t get LEO immunity.

    • +1 to #10. I saw my (anti-gun) state rep. at Old Country Buffet one sunny Sunday morning and I took the time to reassure her that if TSHTF I would respect her wishes and not “escalate the violence” attempting to protect her or her family.

      She called the cops on me.

      • I think Antis should be respected and defense of them should never be joined in the action.

  4. #3 and #4 seem to be conflicting statements.
    #3 – Registered my “assault weapon” years ago per California law, won’t be registering anything else.
    Few years ago the legislature was considering a bill to register all firearms in your possesion.
    When the wife asked me what I would do I told her we would have to move because I did not want to be on the 11:00 news.
    Why register all firearms unless the purpose was confiscation at some time ?

  5. Tell him to go back to the drawing board and put more than 30 seconds worth of thought into it next time.

  6. “I will still defend from significant harm, serious injury or death those who disagree with my choice to own/carry firearms.”

    Absolutely not. I may disagree with other rules he has, but this one is a “Hell no!”

    If someone is such utter scum that they want to prevent people from defending themselves against an attacker, then they deserve any harm that befalls them. Hell, if I had a murderer at gunpoint ready to kill him / take him into custody and found out that his weapon was aimed at gun grabbers, I’d holster my weapon and walk away. I don’t understand this crap of protecting those who wish to do you harm.

      • Yes, and those scum don’t hold those values, thus I will not risk my life / body to protect them.

        To alter the wording slightly, would you put your life on the line to save a convicted murderer / rapist / child molester? I’m willing to bet your answer is “no” because they made their choice to harm others. Guess what? Gun grabbers make their choice to harm others by trying to force them to be defenseless.

      • I’m sure you were being sarcastic, but I can’t stand the utter lack of testicular fortitude among the gun community these days. More time is spent on cowering before the enemy than it is on actually standing up and protecting our rights.

  7. As already stated above, #3 and #4 are in direct conflict of each other. And any law that strips you of the ability to protect your life needs to be seriously amended if not entirely taken away.
    I’m in a moral delema as to whether or not I’ll be a “carry no matter what”er or a “follow all rules even if utter BS” CCer when I get my CCW. Decisions decisions…

    • I’m not sure if you’d define it as “carry no matter what,” but if I’m dressed and outside of my house (or have been outside at some point), I’m carrying. The only exceptions to that are at my mom’s house, because she’s vehemently opposed and I respect her boundaries, and anywhere that it’s prohibited by force of law. I ignore store/mall signs if I have an absolute need to be there, otherwise I take my business elsewhere.

  8. I do appreciate your input on this and I understand a lot of your positions.

    Do you feel that if someone disagrees with you about guns and you have the power to save their lives you are justified in not acting? Rule #10

    I also want you all to realize these are rules to STRIVE for sometimes you can’t do all the things on the list but can you see where striving to live by a higher code could be a good thing?

    I do agree with a lot of your sentiment in many ways. Perhaps I should revise #1 to say ‘I will never threaten to use my firearm unless I am prepared to use it’ does that fit better?

    As for those who think #3 and #4 are in conflict: you are right they are! This is on purpose, I believe there are times where one’s morals conflict with the law and I feel that you must always do that you feel is right in those situations. It is better to be judged by 12 than have to live your life knowing you made the wrong choice by following the law.

    If any of you have more to say feel free to stop over and tell me how you think it could be better. This like so many things is a work in progress. Thank you all for your input.

    • Walter,

      First off, thanks for coming here to defend your position and to ask questions.

      My preferred revision would be:
      ‘I will never threaten to use my firearm unless I justified in doing so, it will not increase my danger, there is a reasonable chance of stopping the altercation without firing my gun and I am prepared to use it if necessary for my defense.

      The consideration of defending a third party is a VERY complicated issue. Often people do not consider the consequences of a gunfight in their justification for defending a 3rd party. I don’t advise people that they should or should not do so, only that they make that decision with the consequences in mind. Rather than asking themselves if they should intervene, they should ask: Am I willing to risk death, serious injury, jail, $100,000 in legal defense and the possibility of a civil judgment, making my wife a widow and my child fatherless to stop that particular assault.

      My article on “Heroic consequences” is worth reading:

      • Rabbi:
        Very good article that I do agree with. I do think people who are considering getting involved would be very, very careful for the same reasons you stated and the decision should be up to the individual. One of the parts of my blog is to explore the reason behind each rule. I am working my way though all the rules and I will put this very topic high on the list. Some of the rules are off-putting at first without further explanation. They are also supposed to be simple so they are easily remembered. Like Jeff Cooper’s rules they are deceptively simple and may take a book (or two) to fully expound on.

        #10 isn’t ‘rush into a situation with gun drawn’ but be prepared and willing to act if circumstances (all of them) warrant. IE: Columbine, VT and other situations all us pro gun guys say “That wouldn’t have happen if guns were allowed there!” Since that is one of our battle cries for our gun rights shouldn’t we be willing to back it up?

        Thanks Rabbi!

  9. Life is too fluid for a list like this. We are intelligent people who know right from wrong, and we must be capable of reacting instantly to any situation, even if it falls outside some predetermined code of conduct.

    Here is my list:

    1) The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the land, and no lesser authority has the right to infringe on any of my rights, including the 2nd Amendment.

    2) I have a moral right and obligation to defend myself, family, property, nation and way of life by any appropriate means, to be determined by myself. Failure to do so is cowardice.

    3) I know the rules of gun safety and observe them because I want my gun to go bang only at appropriate times, to be determined either by me or some legitimate authority (range officers, competition officials, etc..).

    4) The right to own weapons is the right to be free. Anyone seeking to disarm the populace is a fascist barbarian and enemy and should be treated as such. Such people do not deserve and will not receive any respect, politeness or legitimacy.

    I know my list is a bit more abstract than what this fellow Walter intended, but there it is.

  10. I’d threaten somebody if it meant my life. I mean, I don’t want to shoot anybody. but if somebody comes in my house, I’d rather stay in the corner, obnoxiously and loudly cock a pump-action and say “GET OUT, I’M ARMED” with just as much bravado. Because, I don’t want to kill anybody, even if they do mean me harm. I mean, if they’re swinging a machete at my face then I guess I have no choice, but I’m not gonna just rush off, kick a door open and be all Call-of-Duty slo-mo breaching sequence and that bullshit at the slightest hint of danger.

    I’d rather A) he leave, or B) wait for him to jump into the doorway.

  11. Screw #4 . I will not defend people who I don’t know or don’t care about. Screw #10 — they can rot in hell for all I care. Screw #8. They’re not the NRA rules and one of them is completely wrong. I’m not deifying Jeff Cooper, who was a good writer and an aggressive self-promoter but from whose lips no godlike utterances ever escaped. All guns are loaded all the time is a load of you know what. Our Rabbi, on the other hand, pretty well nailed it.

    Finally, there’s no set of sophomoric rules for exercising my rights under the First, so why should there be a set for exercising my rights under the Second? Walter doesn’t sound like a 2A advocate. He sounds like a 2A apologist.

  12. 1: I will never make a list of rules concerning that which should already be inherently part of every man.

    2: Unless I need attention.

  13. “3. I will comply with all regulations regarding my firearm no matter how strongly I disagree with them.”

    Sorry, no. I will not obey evil regulations. If some authority says “Disarm all the ____.”, and the police start the process, … well … no … civilization will have broken down at that point. I would not comply.

    • “3. I will comply with all regulations regarding my firearm no matter how strongly I disagree with them.”

      reminds me of the day with the AWB of 1994. my attitude about the “assault” magazines was “they can eat s–t…”

  14. Lists of rules like these are inherently goofy, and I’m not endorsing these, but I do have some thoughts on the reactions to #10 –

    “10. I do not spend time with people who do not respect me so that issue will not be of concern.”

    Rabbi, people can respectfully disagree, in spite of what Rush Limbaugh et al might have you believe. And you can’t win an argument you never have.

    Totenglocke takes it to a whole ‘nother level:
    “If someone is such utter scum that they want to prevent people from defending themselves against an attacker, then they deserve any harm that befalls them. Hell, if I had a murderer at gunpoint ready to kill him / take him into custody and found out that his weapon was aimed at gun grabbers, I’d holster my weapon and walk away. I don’t understand this crap of protecting those who wish to do you harm.”

    Really, you’ve stopped the bad guy, got him under control, but see that his victim is that misinformed hoplophobic soccer mom from the City Council meeting…if she were drowning, would you through her a lifesaver? If she were j-walking in front of you with her children, would you bother to hit your brakes? I know that Internet rhetoric gets a bit heated, and the absurd hypothetical reigns supreme, but come on! Of course, if you did save her from the bad guy, I bet she’d have a whole new view of things.

    Ralph is a bit milder with the “go to Hell.”

    I don’t think anyone is morally obliged to risk their life to defend a stranger, it’s a personal choice. But hateful rhetoric does not help the cause. Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t fight for what we believe in, and, lately, public opinion is shifting in favor of more liberal gun laws – which proves that good arguments can prevail. Put on a happy face.

          • Better not buy anything that was ever on a ship then. If I recall correctly one container ship running on bunker fuel sludge puts out as much crap in a year as every car in the US.

    • “if she were drowning, would you through her a lifesaver? ”

      No, I wouldn’t. Again, if we were talking about a murderer, rapist, or child molester, I doubt many (if any) people here would have an issue with leaving them to their fate. However, you’re so conditioned to be subservient to gun grabbers that you’ll risk your life to save theirs after they put themselves in a dangerous situation due to their own stupidity.

      “If she were j-walking in front of you with her children, would you bother to hit your brakes?”

      Yes, but mainly to keep from damaging my car. I’d at least try to avoid the kids – it’s not their fault mommy is a sociopath.

      • Tonenglocke:

        Alrighty then, I see who you are, and I don’t like it. You’ve endorsed murder, make no mistake. Shame on you. You’re one tiny step away from saying every person who disagrees with you should be shot. Possibly by you.

        You don’t know jack about me, by the way. If you want, I’ll tell you.

  15. I like to Keep it simple.

    “Don’t do stupid shit.”

    It seems to cover things pretty well.

    If the whole world followed this rule, imagine what a place it could be.

  16. Far too absolutist. Really, it looks like a boy scouts attempt at rule writing to get an honor badge and nothing that reflects the real world. You could easily find exceptions to most of these rules.

  17. Got the rule from the old man, it’s the only one I follow; never point a gun at anyone unless you intend to shoot, never shoot unless you intend to kill. Everything else is predicated on being a free adult.

  18. “3. I will comply with all regulations regarding my firearm no matter how strongly I disagree with them.
    4. I will never allow another to come to harm, serious injury or death by my inaction regardless of the law.”
    — I’m on my first cup of coffee and not fully awake yet it seems to me that there is a contradiction in the above two points.

    “10. I will still defend from significant harm, serious injury or death those who disagree with my choice to own/carry firearms.”
    — Depends on the situation. I would defend my sister regardless of her views on guns and the carrying of firearms. Why should I risk my physical safety and future liberty (prison can be a cold dangerous place) to defend (with my gun) someone I only know to be an anti-gun socialist male-hating feminist? No, I will not be some idealistic chivalrous fool.

  19. This is less a “pledge” than it is a platitude. Walter has concocted a series of statements designed to appease the masses who for whatever reason do not own and are not comfortable around firearms by presenting himself and other gun owners as white knights just waiting to pop out and save the helpless unarmed citizen with the timely application of well reasoned force while never themselves offering any kind of offense or conflict except on the behalf of others.

    The idea that I would sign a pledge to behave in a certain way in order to make other people feel better about my exercise of my natural rights as ennumerated in the second amendment is absurd.

    As an active duty member of the U.S. Army I am obligated at all times when in uniform to protect the safety of my fellow citizens should the need arise or in the event of the issuance of a lawful order to that effect. When off duty, as a private citizen, just like everyone else in this country, gun-owner or not I am under no imperative or obligation – moral or legal – to lift a damn finger on “your” behalf.

    That being said real quick one sentence rebuttals of each point of the pledge presented above; in order.

    1. Ridiculous; philosophically and literally the firearm itself is a threat and should be taken as such by individuals who are contemplating commiting an act that might endanger my personal safety and prompt the use of my firearm as a response.

    2. Speaking from experience I garauntee that you will NEVER be in control of your emotions while using a firearm for its intended purpose either in defense of yourself or others.

    3. No, some (many) of these regulations (although I believe that Walter meant “laws”) are unconstitutional and if nothing else I reserve my right to deliberately break them in a show of “civil disobedience” in the hopes of prompting change.

    4. Not only does this contradict point number three but as I stated in my own little preamble I don’t owe you shit Jack and I will not pretend otherwise; any help that may be forthcoming is entirely dependant on the situation.

    5. This statement implies that it is acceptable to “start a fight” provided you are not armed at the time; this is incorrect – it is never acceptable to provoke a fight under any circumstances.

    6. As stated above “you” should never provoke a fight in any way, if you find yourself in a fight then who “started it” becomes irrelevant and should exercise every means available to end the fight as the “victor.”

    7. This is absurd: giving Walter the benefit of the doubt I assume his catch-all statement to refer to felons, well giving a felon a weapon is in and of itself a felony so this statement is pointless as you are essentially pledging not to do something that you are legally bound not to; changing the word “willingly” to “knowingly” might actually make this point semi-legitimate though.

    8. With respect to Walter this isn’t “idiots guide to gun safety and general use 101” Mr. Cooper’s statements are intended to be the foundation of a much more intensive course of training in the handling of firearms and thier use in self-defense scenarios, these statements are meant to be progressively re-interperted as a student’s competence progresses.

    9. I will do no such thing, managers, security, etc. have no power to dictate the policies of a business or other establishment. Instead I will ask politely to be shown in writing the establishment’s existing policy regarding the possession of firearms on the premisis. If the owner requests this then I will comply, and I will no longer patronize/ visit said establishment or residence or whatever. Patrons, consumers et. al. have rights as well if there is no written policy in place then bugger off. In any event it is likely that I would take my business elsewhere following such an incident.

    10. Moving on from my standard line about not owing you SHIT. If I am being called on to defend a person from physical harm I seriously doubt that there is any scenario where I can reasonably expect to be informed as to that individual’s gun politics. This is just a further example of my earlier point that this “pledge” is intended to make people who are uncomfortable with thier own second amendment rights more comfortable about the fact that I exercise mine. I will either defend you or I will not as circumstances (… long discussion made short – TACTICALLY) dictate with regards first and foremost (then in order of precedence) to the safety of; MY loved ones. MYSELF. People who can be saved with LESS RISK to my personal safety. Then YOU.

    Hopefully that manages to be helpful to you Walter, but one last parting thought if you do read this —

    Stop apologizing for exercising your rights and stop trying to make other people feel comfortable about something they have no reason to be UNcomfortable for in the first place and just live your life.

    • This is an extremely well thought out response, and I have to say I agree on pretty much every point. Especially the notion that this pledge makes my right to bear arms any more legitimate.

      Thank you for your service, sir.

    • Joseph:
      You have hit some very good points. I know that a few of these rules need to be revised as per some of the statements here.

      1.) This refers to things like “If you don’t shut up I will shoot you!” not “if you don’t put that knife away I will shoot you”

      2.) More of a goal to be in some type of control, and to not let our emotions get the best of us and make us make very bad decisions.

      3.) Very controversial as I know it would be and perhaps it goes too far, but I know (as do you) people will still do what they believe is right regardless.

      4.) Yes, it contradicts, because at the end of the day you should be happy with the decision you made, and the law may not agree.

      5.) Of course you shouldn’t start fights when not armed either but this list is specifically when you are armed so other situations are left out, but it could be revised for clarity, I’ll give you that.

      6.) If you started a fight and shoot someone to end it you are going to jail, if they started it and you tried to keep the peace you are in the right so it really does matter, and sometimes winning the fight isn’t worth the price.

      7.) Felons are number one but we should at least give a thought to children. I firmly believe that you can’t childproof a gun but that doesn’t mean you should leave your spare piece on the kitchen table when you aren’t home.

      8.) I used cooper’s version because I like it better than the NRA version. but perhaps I should write my own version that fits better. (that’s 2 to you)

      9.) Another hot topic, I like you would not frequent a business that does not wish me to carry in it but I like would try to show them respect in the process. Perhaps it should address ‘no guns’ policies instead of simple verbal requests (which by the way are usually backed up by policies or policies are enacted after an incident such as you describe ). I’ve known people who have asked me what I would do if they asked me not to carry. I tell them I would not come here anymore (but would comply if I had to go there) and they reveal that they just wanted to know my response and leave it at that. Why create a bigger problem than there needs to be?

      10.) I am just surprised at how vehemently some here dislike others with different opinions on guns. I had an uncle who’s favorite statement was “I may not agree with what you say, but I will fight to the death to defend your right to say it.”

      Does a person who disagrees with you (for any reason) have less right to life liberty and pursuit of happiness than someone who agrees with you?

      I hate to say it this way but “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing” and “With great power comes great responsibility.” I would not advocate donning a cape and running around looking for trouble but if one finds oneself in such a position to do good (even if we aren’t required to) shouldn’t we do what we are able?

      I agree that we should not apologize for our rights. I do think that someone besides the Brady Campaign needs to tell the world what we gun owners believe. They say were all selfish, irresponsible and vengeful gun nut who will stop at nothing to own any gun and demand the right to do what ever we want with them and to heck with how we affect anyone else in the process. (how many these things could be attributed to the responses people have made here?)
      — And no I’m not advocating any form of gun control, just common sense about firearms and common sense ain’t as common as we would like to believe, just read IGOTD if you doubt me.

      • Does a person who disagrees with you (for any reason) have less right to life liberty and pursuit of happiness than someone who agrees with you?

        No. It means that someone who won’t defend himself and wants me to be unable to defend myself can count on nothing from me. Not even a eulogy.

        Besides, I note with great satisfaction that the use of deadly force in defense of unrelated third parties in MA may be illegal, in many circumstances. The blame for this rests directly on the shoulders of those who, as you ineligantly put it, “disagree with me.”

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