Monday, January 26, 2009

Don't Point That At Me, Please

On the grand scale of gun-shop bad behavior, this one hardly ranks, but it got me thinking.

I was standing at the cash register at my local range and gun shop signing up for another year. A few feet away from me was a guy about my age examining a 12-gauge shotgun. He wasn't waving it around like a lunatic, but as he looked it over, he swept me with the muzzle, twice.

I dunno if you've ever seen the business end of a 12-gauge. Take my word for it --- it's a lot larger than it looks. For a second, it seemed like a city bus could come driving out.

Each time the muzzle came my way, I stepped back and I must have muttered something cause Al (the range owner) asked the guy to be a little more careful where he was pointing the thing.

At which point the guy -- in a very reasonable tone of voice -- replied that "he knew the safety rules." At which point I, in a rather unreasonable tone of voice, replied "Then don't point that at me."

He looked chastened, and I felt a little bad, but not as bad as I'd felt if he'd blown my face off.

Its not hard to imagine how a live round could get into a firearm behind the counter, and I realized this the very same day, just after I noticed that Al had a box of Chip McCormick 8-round magazines for the 1911 on the counter.

Being a N00b, I asked him if I could take one out on the range just to see if it fit OK in my Smith and Wesson 1911, promising not to fire any rounds out of it.

He said OK, and I took the mag in its little zip-lock bag out to the range, and put a couple .45 ACP rounds in. The mags fit great, and when I dropped the slide, worked just as advertised.

I droppped the mag, and removed the remaining .45 rounds, checked again to make sure I'd removed them all, and put the mag back into the little bag.

But what if I hadn't checked so carefully? What if I'd left a round in there, and put the magazine back in the box. What if Al or someone else had wanted to demonstrate something with that mag, opened it up and put it into a pistol. Not expecting to see a round in the magazine, its possible they might not have noticed it.

And voila -- there's a round in the chamber of a pistol that everyone "knows" is unloaded. If the guy holding the gun knows his 4 Rules, and keeps his finger where it belongs and the gun pointed in a safe direction, there's no problem besides a lot of embarrasment and a large-ish hole in the floor.

But if he doesn't the results could be fatal.

Please, people. Know your safety rules and follow them.


Atom Smasher said...

I have seen some tremendously stupid behavior by people with guns, even loaded ones, in their hands, but that guy should have known better.

I was teaching an old roomie how to shoot once, and I almost shit myself when, after being shown all the basics, he eventually reached up with the hand holding the loaded Sig P229 to scratch his face. I just watched in horror as the loaded gun went back & forth kinda sorta pointed at his head. As soon as it was moving away I casually said "I need to check something" and stuck my hand out, he gave me the piece, and I unloaded it while expressing my shock and disbelief with the aid of colorful metaphors. Instead of being properly chastened, he gave me a "I didn't have my finger on the trigger" as if that was a reasonable answer. I ended the lesson right there and never offered to teach him again.

Some people, I swear...

Tam said...

Having had more than my share of muzzles staring at me across gun shop counters over the years, my pet peeve was always the customers who huffed "It's not loaded!"

Every now and again I'd respond by pointing at the one on my hip and saying "Yeah, well this one is. And you're making me nervous."

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