Some rules can never be broken, the editor tells us
The editor on the importance of gun safety: Do not point a gun at anyone, ever!
This month, we’ve come to one of the most difficult ethical topics, which is how we should react if we see a fellow shooter breaking the rules of safe gun handling. One of the most important rules is that we must NEVER allow our gun to point at anybody. It doesn’t matter if it’s unloaded, or the safety is on – never point a gun at anyone! We’ve all made that mistake, been ashamed of our failing and better still, I hope, learned from it.
It’s all too easy to turn around at the gun club range and allow your muzzle to point at your club mates, when pointing the gun vertically up or down would keep everybody safe. It’s just as likely to happen when plinking in your back garden, or out hunting with a friend. We must be vigilant at ALL times. One mistake could cause a horrible injury and we’d have to live with the guilt and responsibility for the rest of our lives.
The correct response to seeing a mistake being made is to speak out immediately and politely, to stop the situation from becoming worse. Of course, this may cause embarrassment, but that’s a price worth paying to keep everybody safe. It need not cause a confrontation, but if it does, stand your ground and politely refuse to climb down.
In a club environment, you should expect the full support of your club mates and the committee, and I’ve seen this happen many times. It’s much better that the awkwardness is endured now, rather than allowing the danger to continue.
There is never an exception to this rule. Many people have been shot with ‘ unloaded’ guns that the holder had failed to check. You cannot tell if a gun is loaded just by looking at it, so you must always assume that it is. Similarly, a safety catch is a small mechanical device that can fail, so even though they’re useful, you can never trust them.
We have a great safety record as a sport, and we must do everything we can to maintain or even improve that. We all have a duty of care to each other, whether we’re young or old, a newcomer or an old hand. Once a pellet leaves the barrel it cannot be stopped and the consequences cannot be undone. Make it your sworn duty that you’ll never let your barrel cross anybody, and you’ll be an important and valuable part of our great sport.
“The correct response to seeing a mistake being made is to speak out immediately and politely”
If somebody points a gun at you, even by accident, tell them to stop NOW!