Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Basic Firearm Safety

One of the most talked about but least understood subjects (in my opinion), is Gun & Firearm Safety. A guns’ safety is NOT a mechanical device. A guns’ safety is that organ located “in between your ears” and extends out to your “index or trigger finger.”

The subject of gun or firearm safety is usually covered as an introductory subject or a lesson in beginning firearms classes. Once live fire practice begins strict safety rules are incorporated into the course of fire and range safety rules reinforce habits which don’t reflect “real-life” dynamic and violent encounters that a person may actually face.

Obviously, it is impossible to operate public firing ranges without strict gun safety rules, and doing so would be grossly negligent. However, if a person has never trained to operate a pistol in the presence of others, how can that person be expected to deal with a violent dynamic struggle with other persons, possibly loved ones, nearby and being threatened?

Firearm safety is incorporated at all levels of my classes in order to present the student with, in many cases, a new and unique perspective of firearm safety. My firearm safety program is presented in two (2) parts, the “Finger on the Frame” and the “Laser Safety Rule” and is practiced throughout the entire course.

The trigger finger is placed on the side of the frame of the pistol, and is placed on the trigger ONLY when a) the sights are on target and b) a clear decision has been made to fire the pistol. This is the “finger on the frame” rule. No exceptions. Then we examine the “Laser Safety Rule.” Pretend that a laser beam is projecting out of the end of your gun barrel destroying everything in its path. NEVER cover yourself or anyone / anything that you are not willing to kill or destroy. These two rules must be understood and practiced before drawing a pistol from a holster, and especially if it is concealed underneath a garment.

There are three (3) physical / neural reasons enforcement of the “finger on the frame” rule is mandatory for safe pistol presentation.

The first reason for the placement of the finger on the frame of the pistol is Postural Disturbance. Quite simply, postural disturbance is the “upsetting” of our sense of balance during a violent intra-personal confrontation, where our loss of balance causes us to reach and grasp for safety. Obviously if holding a pistol and the loss of balance occurs, an unintentional squeeze / or pull of the trigger could occur causing a negligent discharge of the pistol.

The second reason for placing the finger on the frame of the pistol is Interlimb Interaction, or sympathetic squeeze. This is a term used to describe the involuntary contraction of an individual's hand and finger muscles under extreamly stressful conditions. The sympathetic squeeze can occur when the shooting hand is holding the pistol, and the support hand or non-shooting hand must be engaged in some forceful or violent action. It is possible that the shooting hand could contract with up to 20% of the force being applied by the non-shooting hand.

The third reason for having the finger on the frame of the pistol is the Startle Reflex or Startle Response. The startle response is an involuntary reflex or contraction that humans are born with. It is the sudden twitch that happens in response to any a sudden frightening stimulus. When the ears are unexpectedly stimulated by noise a startle occurs, in which the muscles in the arms, shoulders, neck, and eyes are activated and involuntarily contract. If the noise / stimulus is loud, or if the person is in an aroused state (e.g. anxious, fearful) prior to the startle, the magnitude of the muscle contraction is greatly increased.

With the “finger on the frame” of the pistol, next we examine the “Laser Safety Rule.” Even when presented with a situation where you MUST point a pistol in the direction of another person, do so with out “covering” that person with your muzzle of your pistol unless you’ve made a clear decision to fire. Remember, keep your finger off of the trigger, and never point your pistol at anyone or anything you are not committed to killing or destroying.

The newspapers and history books are full of examples of individuals that violated these basic rules and tragedy was the result. Sometimes death, and in other cases persons were maimed as a result of poor gun handling skills. Gun & Firearm Safety should be incorporated throughout your personal protection training regimen and should also be a part of your personal character. Remember, your safety is in between your ears. Engage it.

For more information, view my website: Defensive Training Group

Semper Fidelis.
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