What to Expect When You’re Shooting

Just a quick post today on guns. Or, rather, a link to a great post at the Federalist that details 14 things people should know before they write about guns. Excerpt:

Guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” may be widely mocked by ignorant gun controllers, but it’s true (also true is the fact that guns don’t kill people, bullets do, if we want to be really pedantic). A gun cannot load a magazine by itself. A gun cannot secure a loaded magazine by itself. An empty gun cannot chamber a round or rack the slide by itself. A gun cannot pull a trigger by itself. Each of these actions requires agency by a human being.

These are all reasons why I personally dislike the term “accidental” shooting, because it suggests a lack of accountability and responsibility. A more appropriate term is “negligent” shooting, since human action is required to load a magazine, secure the loaded magazine, chamber a round, and pull the trigger. It’s why the basic gun safety rules are so important: if followed religiously, they reduce the probability of negligent shootings to 0%.

Radley Balko has talked about this in the context of police shootings. The press coverage will frequently say something like “the officer’s gun discharged” as though the gun unholstered itself, undid its own safety, floated through the air and shot someone.

He also gets into supposed “safe gun” technology which is not terribly reliable and not nearly as useful as the gun rules that I and every other gun owners learned the second one was shown to us:

1. Treat all guns as though they are loaded.
2. Never point the muzzle at anything you don’t intend to destroy.
3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on target and you’re prepared to fire.
4. Always confirm your target, as well as what’s in front, behind, and around it.

Each rule is effectively a backup in case you ignore a previous rule. If you always assume a gun is loaded, then you’ll never have to say, “Your Honor, I didn’t know it was loaded.” If you screw up the first rule, the rule #2 will prevent you from shooting someone unintentionally, because your muzzle will always be pointed in a safe direction. If you screw up the first and second rules, rule #3 will ensure that the weapon is never actually discharged. And in the event that you believe your life is in mortal danger, rule #4 will prevent you from firing on an individual who’s a non-threat, or prevent you from firing through a threat into an innocent person.

It’s good stuff for those of us who have been continually frustrated by incompetent media coverage and politicking on the subject of guns. If a Republican says anything remotely wrong about anything, he gets no end of shit about it. But Democrats and the media constantly make statements about guns that are equivalent to saying the Earth is flat.

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  1. hist_ed

    Here’s a blast from the past: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ospNRk2uM3U

    I know a lot of people who are in favor of gun control.  None of them really knows much about guns.  My father in law swore that Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown from around 100 yards away and simply didn’t believe me when I said that hitting a target with a handgun at that range was almost impossible.
    Almost every article I read in mainstream publications that deals with gun issues has some sort of error, maybe minor (It ain’t a “clip”), but shouldn’t reporters know something about their topics?  Same goes for Hollywood.

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  2. TxAg94

    The technique of writing the stories to make it sound like the gun acts on its own is not a new one.  My wife and I used to marvel at news stories about car accidents, especially vehicle-pedestrian accidents.  The phrasing always referred to the victim (person) being hit by a particular make and model of car (inanimate object).  Describing the vehicle in detail while giving no mention of the driver seems to be an attempt to humanize the vehicle and shift the blame from the drive to that vehicle.  A more proper description would be something like “…was struck by an SUV driven by…”.  There are many variations but they all seem to pursue the same goal of making the vehicle out to be a rampaging lunatic.
    The difference, of course, is that you have never heard of a push to ban cars because they are out of control.

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  3. Seattle Outcast

    100 yards with a pistol?  Not ideal, but doable under good conditions – I know that I could pull it off, just not likely on the first shot and they had better not be moving.  50 yards isn’t hard if you have spent significant time at the range.

    My biggest complaint about gun grabber is they frequently demonstrate they have zero knowledge about what they are trying to “regulate” out of existence.  “Shoulder thing that goes up” is the best example of gun idiocy, but I cringe whenever I hear the phrase “assault weapon” used anywhere other than video games.

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  4. Biggie G

    BTW, the prosecutors dropped the charges against that guy in NJ who got arrested for carrying a 200 year-old flintlock pistol in his truck.

    I know the whole thing was ridiculous, but who carries a 200 year old flintlock pistol  in their glove compartment?

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