The Four Rules of Gun Safety for New Gun Owners…and Everyone Else [VIDEO]

four rules of gun safety

[ED: With tens of thousands of first-time gun owners having bought firearms during the current national emergency, this is a good time to emphasize basic gun safety, so I’ve bumped this post up to the top. To all of you first-time owners, welcome. We’re glad you’re here. These four basic rules of gun handling are easy to remember and will, if observed, keep you and your family safe.]

 

Col. Jeff Cooper furthered the cause of general gun safety by distilling and popularizing the four rules of safe gun handling. The purpose was to minimize accidents, otherwise known as negligent discharges (every accidental discharge is a negligent discharge).

There are other variations on the theme, but Cooper’s four rules of gun safety are easy to remember and communicate. You have to break at least two of them for something really bad to happen. Learn and follow the four rules and you’ll eliminate the possibility of creating a dangerous, perhaps even deadly negligent discharge.

Learn them, live them, love them and preach them.

1. Every gun is always loaded.

Safety demands that you treat all firearms as loaded — at least until you personally and accurately verify that a gun is unloaded. Always safety check a firearm before and after handling. Even then, you should continue to treat it as a loaded gun.

Safety check every gun immediately when you pick up…even if you had just put it down moments before. Safety check every gun before you put it down or hand it to someone else, even if you “know” it’s unloaded.

Remember: you can remove a magazine from a firearm and still have a round in the chamber. You must check the chamber.

If someone hands you a gun, make sure it’s clear. If someone says “it’s unloaded” treat the statement as utterly meaningless. It’s not unloaded until you’ve checked it yourself.

The only unloaded gun is one you’ve personally checked and it’s been secured or hasn’t left your sight since you checked it. Until and unless you’ve safety checked a firearm — and in most cases (save cleaning) even then — treat the firearm as if it’s loaded.

2. Never point a gun at anything you aren’t willing to destroy.

If you let your muzzle cover anything like an innocent person or an inoffensive inedible animal, bad things can happen. If you keep your gun pointed in a safe direction — away from innocent life — it can’t (which is why some think this should be the first rule).

Even if you somehow have a negligent discharge — which will only occur if you violate other safety rules — at least it won’t harm man or beast. What’s a safe direction? Anyplace a bullet can’t harm an innocent life should you fire the gun.

Be aware: depending on where you may be, there may be times when there isn’t a safe direction.

Bullets can penetrate walls and other barriers and travel extremely long distances. Someone living in an apartment building in an urban area may not be able to avoid the possibility of a negligent discharge causing harm.

In that case as in all others — such as cleaning, storage and transportation — always keep a gun pointed in the safest possible direction. For example, aiming a gun at the steel-reinforced corners of a building may be an apartment dweller’s best bet.

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

No matter how many media reports to the contrary, guns don’t “go off.”

Yes, there are older guns that aren’t “drop-safe” or guns that are mechanically defective (an extremely rare occurrence), but in virtually every instance in modern times, someone or something has to pull the trigger for a gun to fire.

If you keep your finger (and other things) off of the trigger, you won’t create a negligent discharge.

There’s a natural tendency to place your finger on a gun’s trigger; that’s the way firearms are designed to be held. You have to train yourself to keep your finger out of the trigger guard until you’re ready to shoot.

When you pick up a gun, pause. Place your trigger finger in a safe spot (above the trigger on the gun’s frame is good). Feel your finger placement. Look at it. Lock it into your memory. Do this every time you hold a gun.

[NOTE: Even people with excellent “trigger discipline” may place their finger on a trigger in a high-stress situation. For this reason, some people choose handguns with a heavy trigger pull (e.g., revolvers) or a gun with a heavy first trigger pull  followed by lighter trigger pulls (DA/SA).]

4. Be sure of your target and beyond it.

Again, bullets can penetrate barriers and travel great distances before they lose lethal force. You can aim at one thing and hit another, with disastrous results. You are responsible for every bullet that leaves your barrel.

Always make sure there’s no one down range, or someone about to go downrange. How far down range should you consider? As far as the eye can see — and then some.

A .22 caliber bullet can travel over a mile before losing momentum. Be sure you have an adequate backstop. Don’t forget the possibility of barrier penetration (i.e., there may be people or livestock behind a distant barn).

Also keep in mind that you may inadvertently fire well to the left, right or above your target. Imagine a horizontal line running from where you’re standing to your right and left, trailing off into infinity. Make sure there’s no person or animal anywhere ahead of this “firing line” or about to go ahead of the line.

In terms of self-defense, assess your environment, preferably before you draw your gun and certainly after. Defensive gun training courses and competitions are helpful in this regard. In any case, accuracy is a function of distance. The closer you are to a target, the less likely you’ll miss and shoot an innocent bystander.


There are other firearm safety rules (i.e., don’t drink and shoot) that gun owners should be familiar with. But master Cooper’s big four gun safety rules and you’ll enjoy a lifetime of safe gun handling. It’s the right thing to do.

comments

  1. avatar cgray says:

    Aaaaand the first rule is complete and utter bullshit.

    1. avatar Spud says:

      Please explain? I do not understand your comment.

      1. avatar Biatec says:

        Maybe he means then how do you dry fire practice if it’s always loaded? I wouldn’t dry fire a loaded gun. lol

      2. avatar cgray says:

        Unloaded guns are by definition not loaded. You could never clean or dry fire your gun if you handled it like a complete emotional cripple. My six dollar knife from Wal-Mart is infinitely more dangerous than an unloaded gun.

        1. avatar Rich says:

          Really, I’m interested, just how stupid are you?

        2. avatar SteveO says:

          How do you verify it’s “unloaded” unless it is verified to be in an unloaded state? Going to take someone else’s word for it? I think you’re missing the global point: can you absolutely know that a firearm is in an inert/ safe state unless you verify it is, like verifying it physically and visually? Ever been distracted mid-task and unintentionally extend past the task item that you left off at? Are willing to pass a weapon in an unknown state (or “should be” unloaded) to somebody that could cause them, you or somebody/ something else immediate harm or death unless you verify it? It’s not a difficult concept.

          Pretty weak argument that your knife is infinitely more dangerous than an unloaded gun.
          An inch of water is 10x infinitely more dangerous than a knife.

        3. avatar Rick the Bear says:

          Steveo,

          The “rule” lists no exceptions (e.g., after checking it yourself).

          That’s my big issue with Rule #1.

          (Do I detect an “Inside Man” reference?)

        4. avatar Gadsden says:

          A loaded or unloaded gun, when placed inside a box, becomes both loaded and unloaded at the same time.

        5. avatar Rich says:

          According to Col. Schrödinger

        6. Are you referring to Schrödinger’s Gat?

        7. avatar Chris T in KY says:

          to cgray
          It’s arrogant idiots like you and this “professional” that make us all look bad. By not following rule number one.

      3. avatar Tom says:

        It should say ” treat” every gun as if it were loaded, i.e, follow all the rules.

        1. avatar Eric in Oregon says:

          Not sure why people get so wound up about this. It rather obviously means that “it’s ok, it’s unloaded” or “oops I thought it was unloaded” is never accepted as an excuse for doing something dumb.
          The nuanced part where you personally verify it’s unloaded every time you pick it up and before working on it or dry firing is too much to expect a newbie to absorb, so the rules are all boiled down to something you can teach on day 1 without overwhelming them.

        2. avatar Tom Tom says:

          I agree. The way it’s written, it sounds like he’s saying you should always keep your guns loaded.

        3. avatar Pilot of the Airways says:

          ^^^ thank you Tom, few new gun owners here to confuse so you made it clear.

    2. avatar Gnius says:

      I think the better summary of the first rule is: “know the condition of your weapon at all times and treat it accordingly.” But it works as written for teaching novices.

      1. avatar VicRattlehead says:

        As written is MUCH better for novices. It really hammers in the point that mishandling guns can be catestrophiclly bad and they should ALWAYS be handled with the respect you would handle something you KNOW is deadly.

        After some experience handing firearms I’d say:
        “know the condition of your weapon at all times and treat it accordingly.”
        is better written.

      2. avatar Craig in IA says:

        Oh, I don’t know. There are holes in the houses of a fair number of gun saavy people who were sure their firearm was unloaded when they “dry fired” it. One pal took out one of his old lady’s prized Precious Moments ornaments, another shot “himself” in a full length mirror practicing his fast draw. Can go on further. None of these people ever exhibited unsafe handling characteristics at ranges or while hunting with them. I think the mantra is not “If”, but “when” you have a negligent discharge. Check. Check again. And remember Rule 2 before you squeeze again without checking.

        1. avatar billy-bob says:

          Houses, and the legs of a few cops.

        2. avatar napresto says:

          I know a few such stories myself. And I would add that the first rule (all the rules) are written for clarity, not nuance. If you assume any gun is loaded, and that maybe a bullet somehow magically wound up in the chamber when you just looked away there for a second, you are unlikely to ever have a problem. You can still dry fire safely with this mindset – and in fact more safely than otherwise, since you’ll stop to clear the weapon pretty frequently, ensuring it is absolutely unloaded. As for cleaning: well once the gun is a disassembled, in my mind it’s parts, not a gun, and the rules kind of lose their meaningfulness when it comes to parts.

      3. avatar Kenneth says:

        Watch this and get info from the horse’s mouth. Rule 1 is at apx. 7:30. Just watching one minute will make it crystal clear. Yes, it’s crappy quality. It’s an old video digitized from a VHS or beta tape, which is the only way this video was made back in the day. I got my copy back in the 1980s, and today it isn’t in any better shape. Tape deteriorates with time. But the meaning is still there.

        1. avatar JasonM says:

          Well I just lost a lot of respect for the man. He’s apparently not familiar with his own Rule #2.
          At 7:15, when drawing his gun, he points it right at the cameraman.
          When unloading and reloading it, he passed his hand in front of the muzzle multiple times.
          And at 7:30, when reholstering it, he muzzled his own hand.
          And that’s just 15 seconds of the video.

        2. avatar Rich says:

          It’s a camera on a tripod you mouth breathing retard.

        3. avatar JasonM says:

          Hey Rich, if you’re going to be a complete asshole in your comments, make sure you’re not completely wrong as well. As he draws and unloads the gun the camera zooms in on him. Are you suggesting a sentient tripod pushed the zoom lever on the camera? Or perhaps that some time traveler gave Cooper a camera with a remote control? There was a person standing behind that camera controlling the camera angle and zoom level.

        4. avatar Kenneth says:

          JasonM: Please go watch again, carefully this time. You might note(assuming you have eyes) that the gun is pointing off to the left. No muzzling of the camera, that is just an error you made. Correct it and its no harm. Keep insisting that you are always right, and you will put yourself in the position Plato spoke of when he said:
          “Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.”

        5. avatar JasonM says:

          With the low quality video, it’s hard to determine the exact angle, but it looks nearly straight on at first, before he starts rotating it to the right. I can see his knuckles, but not the back of his hand. The bore axis is high enough that he’d be pointing at the cameraman’s legs. In any case, it’s clearly not just a tripod, as Rich so eloquently claimed.

          Also, the hand in front of the muzzle errors while unloading, loading, and holstering are clear violations of his second rule.

        6. avatar LarryinTX says:

          Entire argument is excessively stupid.

        7. avatar Kenneth says:

          But it is in error, and thus the duty to correct the error, no matter how stupid that error might be.
          Let’s face it, there are a LOT of stupid people out there, and they desperately need someone to set them straight. The fact that they don’t WANT to be corrected, like Jason, means nothing, other than that they think they already know everything, so why not just become Plato’s fools that only open their mouths because they need to hear themselves blather?

        8. avatar BenjiMac says:

          I agree with JasonM. Many of his actions, such as locking the slide back, do include the muzzle crossing his arm or hand. Not just one instance, but several. It is not clear which ones in the video, some may be pointed only close to himself or camera, but I don’t like it.

      4. avatar BenjiMac says:

        Your version misses the point. The gun should be treated as loaded, even when you know it is not, for purposes of the other safety rules. Particularly, do not point it at someone else, even briefly, just because you know it is not loaded. That just asks for problems. The point of these rules, as Col. Cooper said, is redundancy – it takes more than one error to destroy something important. Dry fire is OK, checking first, but only in a safe direction such as a cement wall below ground level.

    3. avatar Iron Cat Beast says:

      Do elaborate.

    4. avatar Rich says:

      Hope I’m never at a range near you.

    5. avatar Rick the Bear says:

      Cgray et al,

      I’m pretty much with you. Always loaded, to me, means never dry-firing, except at an appropriate backstop while wearing eyes and ears; never cleaning (would you clean a barrel with a round in the chamber); never unholstering to put in a safe or drawer (especially a problem for apartment dwellers); never drawing to fire while standing on concrete ( the spall issue); etc.

      Yes, for first timers, this rule is possibly useful. Yes, old timers can get complacent (I’ve only had one ND). We PotG frequently explain to the ignorant (and stupid) that guns do not “go off” by themselves. Yet we are supposed to treat them as if they do.

      In my non-NRA class, I say that all guns are loaded until personally verified by you. Again. I echo the comment someone made about always checking.

      I prefer the “finger off the trigger” rule as the primary one. If the trigger isn’t pressed, you should be ND-free.

      (End rant)

    6. avatar Darkman says:

      Aaaand you are a complete and utter moron. Most likely a keyboard commando direct from his mama’s basement. “So Chill Out Francis”.

      1. avatar Darkman says:

        Comment was meant for cgray. sorry for the confusion…

    7. avatar Hannibal says:

      It’s only bullshit in the pithy sense, when you read the explanation in the body of the article it makes sense.

    8. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

      Don’t worry about cgray. Debated with him once. He’s about as smart as a box of rocks. Don’t waste your time.

      1. avatar Rich says:

        Yes, dumb bastard

    9. avatar Southern Cross says:

      Ever see the movie Tremors where the character Bert Gummer, after handing an unloaded revolver to a teen to motivate them to move faster (long story), immediately checks the revolver when he takes it back?

      Just making sure. For a B movie, and for movies in general, the firearms handling was very good. The actor playing the character insisted on doing things that way.

      1. avatar I Haz A Question says:

        The original Tremors is a classic. The basement scene (climaxing with the elephant gun) is a treat, though I remember thinking to myself “how in the world do they still have their hearing after that battle?”

      2. avatar DinWA says:

        Compare to Screamers with Peter Weller. Everyone was constantly sweeping each other with fingers on triggers.

    10. avatar Rich says:

      Direct reply to cgray:

      What do you do for a living? I’m hoping that I nor none of the people I love ever have to interact with you. You don’t have an understanding of basic reasoning. Watch videos of the COL and try to learn. It may take some abstract thought processing to comprehend but if you try really hard you may make it.

    11. avatar Anymouse says:

      These are the wrong rules. Cooper’s #1 is meaningless. I prefer the NRA’s big 3 rules:
      1: Always keep pointed in a safe direction (although “willing to destroy” is catchier for some audiences).
      2: Always keep finger off trigger and trigger guard until on target (put on frame)
      3: Always keep gun unloaded until ready to use. A gun intended for defense is in use, and a gun’s not unloaded until you’ve checked it if it has left your immediate control.

      Granted, 2 of these are pretty much the same as Cooper’s. His #4 is part of the NRA’s full list, which includes target identification, safe storage, not under influence of drugs/alcohol, proper ammo, knowledge of operation, keep gun in good working order, use eye/ear protection, and there may be other rules for activity or location. NSSF has a bunch of extras, like make sure barrel is clear, don’t rely on mechanical safety, and be careful if you pull the trigger and it doesn’t fire, but I feel they’re specific example of knowledge or operation.

      1. avatar I Haz A Question says:

        I was raised on the Four Rules, so I prefer it above all other formats (I’ve seen other organizations push their own consisting from Three all the way up to Ten).

        But in the end, as long as you practice safe handling and act responsibly, that’s what matters.

      2. avatar Eric in Oregon says:

        That’s the way I learned them as well. Although I pretty much switched to thinking of the Colonel’s rules as The Rules because that’s how it’s taught in my area, I still consider “don’t muzzle anything you don’t want to destroy” as a more useful first rule. If a person can only manage to remember *one* rule I’d want it to be that one.

    12. avatar Eric in Oregon says:

      As commonly taught you’re right. The complete rule is more like “All guns are loaded unless you’ve cleared them personally since they came under your control”.

      1. avatar Rick the Bear says:

        Thanks, Eric.

      2. avatar LarryinTX says:

        I have an extension which is more difficult to make up a quick rule about. Basically I won’t handle a gun which I have verified is unloaded, if there is anyone within view who has NOT verified the gun is unloaded. If I am alone, fine, but if someone comes in, family member or not, I will cease whatever I am doing with the gun until everyone is satisfied of their safety. Just seems the polite thing to do.

    13. avatar Accur81 says:

      Dude, relax. This is introductory information aimed (pardon the pun) at new gun owners. Obviously dry fire is useful for training, but that comes further down the road. My first dry fire was “snap in” at Marine Corps boot camp. Not a relaxing environment, but we had ammo accountability and made sure our guns were safe before dry firing.

    14. avatar AC says:

      I am sorry to say, but who ever is reciting those four rules of gun safety (as stated in this article) is doing a very poor job of conveying the intended message and thought behind these four rules. I believe a less confusing and more correct summary version would be the following:

      1) Treat every gun you touch as if it is loaded and clear the weapon and insure it is safe to handle if not intending to shoot it.
      2) Never point a gun (loaded or otherwise) at anything or anyone you are not intending to kill or destroy.
      3) Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on target and you have made a conscience decision to shoot.
      4) Be sure of your target and what may be beyond and/or in front of the target.

      In California a couple years back, a deputy sheriff while in his office was shot in the chest and killed by a colleague, who it was said, was showing the deputy his back up weapon. Now just think for a moment, how many of those four rules of gun safety had to be violated in order for this tragic “accident” to happen? Not one or two but all of the first three rules of gun safety had to ignored and directly violated otherwise that deputy would still be alive today. Gun safety has to be practiced every single time you pick up a gun in order to have it become a habit because the one time you fail to so could result in something like what happened in this California Sheriff’s Office. See the news story here: http://headdownnews.com/news/california-sheriffs-deputy-accidentally-shot-killed-colleague/

    15. avatar LasVegasBret says:

      Correct.

      1. /Treat/ every gun as loaded. Show and unloaded gun the same respect as you would with a loaded gun.

      Also:

      3. Be sure of your target, and what is /in line/ with your target, both /in front of/ and behind your target. Be aware of your surroundings, and what may be in line with your target as you proceed through presentation and trigger press. Someone may have stepped between you and the target from the time that you’ve decided the need to present and ultimately shoot. Be aware of that potential.

  2. avatar jwm says:

    The most important bit of training is the safe day to day handling of your firearms. We will handle our firearms every day. We will only rarely be involved in a dgu. I haven’t been shot at since the late 80’s. And I do not miss it at all.

    Any training beyond basic handling and safety and a little knowledge of the local laws is all you’ll need if you ain’t a cop or soldier.

    Course if you want to fatten the purse of all those ex ‘operators’ pushing the tactifool mindset, feel free. It’s your money.

  3. avatar Kenneth says:

    And do not argue about which is the most important. They all overlap each other for a good reason. They are all co-equal, and must all be followed. Attempts to find only one rule to follow are just laziness waiting for the chance to become an ‘accident’.
    Also take note of the order. They are also in that order for a good reason. Rule #1 is for before the gun is even touched. Rule #2 is for when the gun is in your hand(s). Rule #3 is for when a target has been identified. Rule #4 is for when the sights are on the target, and the gun is to be fired. There is a progression there that should be obvious.

  4. avatar Cruzo1981 says:

    Rule #5: If Democrat and in possession of a firearm, please turn in to your local PD…

  5. avatar ozzallos says:

    There’s always a #5. Mine is “Know where tho gun art at all timeths.” Seriously, this bullshit of “i forgot my gun was in there!” is mental negligence of the highest order when dealing with firearms.

  6. avatar LKB says:

    A very good instructor (Steve Smith of Asgaard NTG) adds the following to Cooper’s Four:

    #5 If you drop your weapon, DO NOT TRY AND CATCH IT — let it hit the ground and then pick it up.

    This one makes a lot of sense, especially in the context of training/practice where you’re handling a loaded weapon a lot. (He really emphasized it during immoblization drills, where you had to practice drawing from your strong side carry using only your weak side hand, and then shooting / reloading / clearing stoppages with weak side hand only.) Trying to “catch” a falling weapon carries a big risk that you’ll snag the trigger while doing so, probably when the weapon is pointed at some part of you.

    #6 “Most importantly, do not shoot the instructor, because he will shoot back.” Always said with a smile, but I for one never wanted to find out if retired Sgt-Major Smith was less than serious about it.

  7. avatar RCC says:

    I’ve seen two very old shotguns and one M60 that fired when the breach was closed due to old age and worn out parts. Thankfully all were pointed in safe direction down range on an actual range so no damage aside from “O S****”.

    As I’ve seen previously it’s the four rules not suggestions.

  8. avatar moshe says:

    Rules #2, #3 and #4 are redundant.
    If you follow rule #1 all other rules will be followed naturally.

    1. avatar Defens says:

      Completely disagree. They form an integrated system. I used to (note USED TO) go target shooting with some guys that were constantly sweeping everything and everyone around them (with truly loaded guns). Constantly finger on the trigger. Prattling about while waving the gun aimlessly about. They knew the gun was loaded and ostensibly knew the rest of the rules too – they didn’t treat them seriously. Assuming a gun is loaded does not automatically mean that a newbie or careless shooter knows what to do with that information.

      1. avatar moshe says:

        You confirm my point. If rule #1 is ignored then the rest of the rules are disregarded as well.
        if Every gun is always loaded then nobody will point a gun at anything they aren’t willing to destroy
        if Every gun is always loaded then everyone will keep finger off the trigger until sights are on target.
        if Every gun is always loaded then all will be sure of their target and beyond it.
        Very simple to remember for beginners: THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS UNLOADED GUN.

        1. avatar Big Bill says:

          “You confirm my point. If rule #1 is ignored then the rest of the rules are disregarded as well.”

          True, but that does not make them redundant or otherwise not needed.
          Rules are there for a purpose. Disregarding one, *in a single incident“, may mean the other rules “during that incident” aren’t followed either because the gun fires, but doesn’t mean the others aren’t important. It only means they didn’t matter during that incident.
          Disregarding any of them at the wrong time can make all the others irrelevant at that time. But the rules still serve a good purpose.

        2. avatar LarryinTX says:

          My son and I went to the range, during a cease fire he went downrange to adjust his target, I discovered his rifle on the rest still pointed downrange at his target, fully loaded (incl chamber) and with the safety off. When cease fire was declared he just stood up and headed downrange. Clearly there were words, but my point is, where in all these rules would that be caught? Gun *was* loaded. He pointed it at his target, which he did intend to shoot. It was a safe direction. On and on, there is no shortcut and quickie rules do not correct every problem.

        3. avatar Big Bill says:

          LarryinTX says: ” Clearly there were words, but my point is, where in all these rules would that be caught?”

          Know your target.
          Well, I guess since he was the target, he knew his target, but still…

          And, I spoke too soon. My Browser didn’t save my information for this comment, so obviously there’s still a problem.

  9. avatar moshe says:

    1. Every gun is always loaded.
    2. Every gun is always loaded.
    3. Every gun is always loaded.
    4. Every gun is always loaded.

  10. avatar Texican says:

    Hickock45 does a pretty good job in all his videos. He is contantly checking the status of his firearms, especially pistols. Because while you’re doing stuff and talking to the camera you forget. And since no one has x-ray vision it doesn’t hurt to check the pistols condition when it’s in your hand.

    1. avatar I Haz A Question says:

      That’s always the basic rule at Front Sight Academy in Nevada. No matter which course taken (handgun, shotgun, rifle), every drill begins and ends with chamber checking. It’s done so often throughout every day that I’ve found myself doing it by habit back home even when simply moving or cleaning my guns. Every time I pick one up, I automatically find myself checking…

  11. avatar Roymond says:

    “every accidental discharge is a negligent discharge”

    That can depend on the gun. I had an old Japanese Arasaka with the safety being a disc behind the action that had to be pressed and rotated at the same time, but if bumped just right it could pop off, which frequently resulted in a shot fired as well. I was out hunting with it, and the ground went out from under my feet; the Arasaka hit a limb of vine maple, and BANG! every deer in the neighborhood was warned. 🙁

    Now unless you want to blame Arasaka for negligence in designing such a silly system, that accidental discharge WAS accidental.

    (I had another one with the same rifle; I was putting the muscle of my thumb against the safety disc to show a friend how it worked, and an idiot kid (college, maybe) whacked me on the shoulder, just right to make me twist the disc with no control… BANG! I suppose I was negligent in demonstrating with a round in, but that was the incident that made me retire the thing to display model status.)

  12. avatar Lebowski3 says:

    #5 If the government says you don’t need a gun then you need a gun.

  13. avatar enuf says:

    Always looked upon these short rules as the titles for the explanations that follow. Titles are supposed to be brief. Even so, the details can be very brief too, briefer than what the writer here has provided. Don’t see why people fail to comprehend this.

    I treat every gun as loaded. Until I personally clear it and it does not leave my sight and control. Done.

    I never point a gun at something I would not want to destroy. This rule covers you fucking up on that first rule.

    Finger off the trigger until ready to shoot. Yup, not much to add there.

    Be sure of your target and what’s beyond it. Covers all situations including dry fire. I have a safe place to point the thing even in my house.

  14. avatar bontai Joe says:

    God bless Col. Jeff Cooper. I miss his writings.

  15. avatar JW says:

    I taught the kids: MATT.
    Muzzle
    Always
    Trigger
    Target.

    Helps the little ones remember.

  16. avatar Mort says:

    Grrr…

    I must advocate for 5th “Golden Rule.”

    #5. If you are not sure about the controls on a firearm, DO NOT GUESS… ASK.

    All firearms fundamentally do the same thing, but all firearms’ controls are different. If you are unsure what a lever, or switch, or button might do, don’t guess. Ask somebody. From magazine releases, to slide stops, to charging levers, to decockers, to safeties… all manufacturers put these fire controls in different places and without labels, of course. Don’t guess– ask.

    Be safe (…actual AZ Mort)

  17. avatar Jim Bullock says:

    You know, I know the gun is empty; I checked.

    But, sometimes I’m wrong.

    1. avatar Bubba says:

      I was wrong once. Resulted in a neg.
      Mercifully I was also obeying the other rules, so all I did was make a hole in some inert material.
      I never let myself forget that failure.
      I fucked up, and I’m not going to allow myself to sweep that under the carpet.
      I let my fuckup burn in deep.
      I’m a better person for it.

  18. avatar Mike in Ohio says:

    The point of rule one is to create safe habits. One does not have a set of behaviors for loaded firearms and another for unloaded firearms. Unlearning bad habits is the hardest part of training.

  19. avatar LifeSavor says:

    I’ve been a gun owner for only 3 years. Everytime I go to the indoor range, I watch the safety video. I can almost recite it.

    My point, we all have our safety routines, but safety should never be routine. It requires thoughtfulness, presence of mind.

    Be safe; savor life.

  20. avatar Accur81 says:

    Also extremely important to secure firearms when not in your hands or on your hip so to prevent unauthorized access by kids.

  21. avatar Ralph says:

    Rule #2 is misquoted. Cooper’s second rule is: “Never let the muzzle cover anything that you are not willing to destroy.”

    Pointing the gun is an intentional act. “Let the muzzle cover” accounts for intentional acts and also unintentional stupidity.

    Based on what I’ve seen, unintentional stupidity outnumbers intentional pointing by at least 100 to 1, and therefore is probably 100 times more deadly.

  22. avatar MLee says:

    Personally I subscribe to the first rule as being: Always keep your gun pointed in a safe direction.
    Obviously that wouldn’t count if you are shooting a bad guy but then that’s considered a safe direction in my view. If the first rule is all guns are loaded, what are you actually doing to adhere to that rule? What are you physically doing? That’s why I subscribe to ALWAYS MAKE SURE YOUR GUN IS POINTED IN A SAFE DIRECTION. If you are fooling around cleaning it or doing whatever it is we do, you make sure it’s pointed in a safe direction when you are doing it. The microwave, the fridge the floor is a safe direction, the dog, your kids, your wife (in most cases) is NOT a safe direction. We don’t give a flying bat turd about the floor or the microwave, but if you put a round in your sleeping dog because you had your gun pointed at it after you forgot to clear the chamber and squeezed the trigger….then the person is a BLITHERING IDIOT.

  23. avatar Wally1 says:

    It’s interesting I ran across this subject, because just this morning at the range I had an interaction with two morons. So early this morning I am at my local outdoor range. I am at the shooting bench, shooting a M1A when I hear a vehicle pull up behind me. I continue shooting when a guy walks by me without saying anything and starts to walk down range. I quickly place my rifle on safe and set it down, muzzle in a safe direction. This idiot continues down range and puts up a pistol target and walks back.

    I contact the guy and tell him he needs to inform anyone at the range to “CEASE FIRE” and get acknowledgement when attempting to go down range. His reply, “OH, I didn’t know”. Well common sense is dead, this idiot then starts shooting. From his stance and handling of the pistol, it’s pretty obvious he has no clue. He then turns around with pistol in hand and sweeps me and his friend. I walk over and explain he needs to keep muzzle pointed down range. He the places his left hand over the muzzle and starts to push the slide back with his finger on the trigger. he checks and there is a round in the chamber. I point out he has his hand in front of the muzzle. He responds with another “OH”.

    I decide that no amount of instruction will help this idiot, I gather up my gear, clear my weapons and leave, this way I won’t be present when he negligently blows his fingers off or shoots his friend. I figure not being there will save me lots of time not filling out police statements on how a neg discharge occurred.

    It still amazes me that with all the internet videos and books on firearm handling and safety, people like this are still out there.

    1. avatar Southern Cross says:

      Hollywood is not a good teacher.

      1. avatar MLee says:

        He probably saw that moron Steven Segal push the slide back from the muzzle of the weapon. I’ve seen him do that.

  24. avatar Coolbreeze says:

    Good move to post this. Keep it up for a while. Let’s educate the newbies and refresh ourselves as well. It’s good practice.

  25. avatar Chris T in KY says:

    The arrogance of some of the above gun owners who refuse to follow all or only some of the basic safety rules, explains why we are our own worst enemy. There are just to many examples of so called “highly trained” gun owners who thought “the gun was unloaded”. Or who thought there was “nothing down range”.

    Gun fail: Cop accidentally shoots himself while testing 38-caliber handgun

    1. avatar Bubba says:

      That cop was actually *given* a gun with a round in it.
      Not excusing his incompetence….but the gun store totally fucked up too.

  26. avatar Anymouse says:

    #3 is fine for targets on a square range, using a long gun, or when moving with a drawn gun, but lousy for a rapid handgun draw if you’ve decided you have to shoot. If you get the sights lined up and then put your finger on the trigger, you’ve disturbed the sights and now have to reacquire. Speed comes from eliminating unnecessary movement. If you draw and have the gun pointed down range/towards the intended target, you can remove the safety and put your finger in as you bring the gun up to acquire the sights. You can shoot at that point if the target is close and you don’t have time to acquire sights.

  27. avatar Mark VII Ltd says:

    Don’t forget the golden rule: Shoot the bad guy (or girl) before he shoots you. And, shoot until the threat(s) is/are completely eliminated.

    No point in having a gun otherwise….

  28. avatar Bubba says:

    That video was utter shit.
    Not just utter shit, but dangerous, confusing shit.
    The whole point of the 4 rules is to keep it simple.

    1. Always treat firearms as if they are loaded
    2. Never point a firearm at anything you’re not willing to destroy
    3. Finger off the trigger until ready to shoot
    4. Be sure of your target and beyond

    I know the asian dude won a competition, but his work on this video is disgracefully and dangerously bad.

    1. avatar Wally1 says:

      Totally agree, these four firearm safety rules are so simple, they should be posted above every gun shop counter. However you are trying to teach a whole generation of people that stand on the side of the highway on their cell phone calling for a tow truck because it was never ever important enough for them to learn how to change a flat tire. Just think about that

      Be warned, these are the same people who don’t have enough common sense to prepare for anything, the same people who got a participation trophy, the same people who live off credit cards !. With more businesses closing from this pandemic these people have no money coming in, shortly will have no food and they will become very desperate.

      For the rest of us, Keep your powder dry, Amen brother.

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