Sunday, January 09, 2005

Tiered Safety

The old man emailed me this story over the weekend. Apparently, hunting is a safer hobby than boating. This didn't surprise me much, as riding the bus to certain neighborhoods is more dangerous than hunting. Hell, eating fast food seems to be the real killing machine in the new millenium.

In any case, it got me to thinking about safety. I generally don't get near boats a whole lot. Every couple of years maybe. But thinking about my previous boat hosts, most of them were 3 sheets to the wind. In fact, outside of my parents when I was young, no one has ever outlined the basics of boat safety, like don't put away a twelve of Budweiser while navigating your family.

Contrast this to shooting. I have never let anyone fire any of my guns without first explaining not only what the NRA rules are, but what my rules are.

I did not shoot when I was young. I grew to the age of 12 in Chicago, so it plain wasn't an option. Once I got to the age of 14, the kinder among you would have considered me a Trotskyite. At the time, I was against the first Gulf War, if that gives you an inkling to how I ranked on the liberal-meter.

My first gun was purchased at the age of 27. It was a Glock 17 (I don't recommend this as your first purchase, BTW.) I was scared shitless of the thing. Luckily, some people I knew took an interest in teaching me about firearms (now I realize that this is common practice. If a newbie shows up at the range, I'll give up the whole afternoon to show him some things.)

The first thing I was taught was to tier safety. In other words, there isn't four arbitrary rules to follow, there are tiers of safety. You have several rules to back up several other rules. The lowest on the chart, of course, is a mechanical safety. Those are there in case you flub every other level of safety there is. They are not, as some people think, the primary safety, but the absolute last in line.

The second gun I bought was a Colt Commander. Pretty nickel finish and all that. I wouldn't recommend this as a first or second gun either.

As I was ignorant, I fell victim to the image of people cocking and uncocking 1911's at will. TV is a bad thing, but is worse if you're ignorant.

One night I decided I'd dry-practiced enough, I was going to start keeping the Commander loaded, but de-cocked. Needless to say, I have holes in my coffee table, entertainment center, carpet, and subfloor to remind me of how dumb I was being.

It took several weeks for me to tell the guy who had been teaching me what a numb-nuts waste of space I had been. His reply was that I didn't have any toes missing or dead people in my house, so I at least had the wherewithal to keep it pointed away from me or anybody else while I executed this particular piece of asininity.

This always reinforced to me that safety isn't an infomercial. "Don't drink and boat" may be a good idea, but it is not a well developed plan for safely using a potentially deadly device. One should set up buffers so that if one set of safeties fail, there is another one to back it up.

Also, one of MY gun rules, is don't try de-cocking a 1911.

Umm, I have a confession to make. I have done the same thing with a 1911, and for that reason, I've started to carry a double-action/single action. I don't trust myself to carry cocked and locked.

Don't feel like the lone ranger.
Thank you for that.

I always dread making that confession, as it makes me look kind of dumb. But I guess if you don't make that same mistake twice, and nobody gets hurt and one doesn't spend the night in jail, we're all the wiser for it.

I thought I would get flamed big-time on this post. Thanks for the support
I had a army buddy who was practicing his draw and reloading skills and forgot that he had racked the slide. End result was a cracked femur from the glazer round that happened to be in the chamber. I have only practiced that with mags loaded with snap caps... Live ammo is a no go for training unless you are shooting down range at the time.

As far as carry is concerned I live in MD so I can't without a writ from god and a good lawyer...

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