Anyone that has been on the range with me knows that I am a huge stickler for safety. Let’s review the 4 firearms safety rules:
KEEP YOUR FINGER SOMEWHERE OTHER THAN THE TRIGGER UNTIL READY TO SHOOT
ALL GUNS ARE ALWAYS LOADED
NEVER LET THE MUZZLE OF YOUR FIREARM COVER ANYTHING YOU ARE NOT WILLING TO KILL, DESTROY OR PURCHASE
BE SURE OF YOUR TARGET, WHAT’S IN FRONT, BEHIND, AND TO THE LEFT OR RIGHT.
As responsible gun owners this needs to be part of our character. Far too many times have I seen machismo or arrogance get in the way of safe gun handling. There were several times when I was helping out Chris Fry from MDTS Training where I had to repeatedly tell students to keep their finger off the trigger or put their safety back on. Even though you think it would be common sense, I would consistently receive attitude from the student. I don’t plan on getting hurt, so if you’re being unsafe, I’m going to let you know.
But, I digress slightly. This article is about proper use of the safety selector on AR15-type rifles. Check out exhibits A & B:
This was a picture of the aftermath of a negligent discharge not even 10 feet away from me. This occurred at a recent firearms event that I attended, where someone forgot to put their firearm back on SAFE after coming off the firing line. While standing around, the shooters finger was also on the trigger and a round was discharged into the concrete pad where all the shooters were standing. Thankfully, no one was hurt, however, the potential was there for someone to be severely injured.
Proper Operation of the AR15 Safety Selector
Teaching proper operation of the safety selector comes fairly early on in the carbine classes that I teach. I teach the students to have their thumb riding the safety at all times. Manipulation of the selector is done only at the point of having to shoot and when the sights are on target. Rifle comes down to low ready? Safety Goes on. Rifle goes to high port for quick movement? Safety goes on. Movement to speed kneeling or down to prone? Safety goes on.
The operation of the safety should be automatic in our movement. The more range time and practice you have doing this, the better prepared you will be to manipulate the safety selector under fear, stress and confusion.
Do NOT rely solely on your firearm’s safety selector
We cannot rely completely on a mechanical device for safety. Anything that is mechanical can fail. We know this and we must understand that this can happen. This is why keeping your finger somewhere OTHER than the trigger is imperative. If the shooter’s trigger had been off the trigger, the negligent discharge would not have happened.
Semantics are important here. There is a reason why we tell students to keep their finger somewhere OTHER than the trigger versus just saying keep your finger off the trigger. The mind is a wonderful thing, and by developing the muscle memory and tactile feedback of placing the finger in a consistent spot will ensure that you will keep it off the trigger under fear, stress and confusion.
There are NO accidental discharges
This brings me to my last point here, which may bring some butt-hurt (usually from the keyboard commandos). There are absolutely NO accidental discharges. Let’s explore this. Even if under the rare circumstance that a firearm discharges “by itself,” the argument could be made that the owner did perform the correct maintenance, cleaning, or diagnostics to find a problem prior to shooting. It’s just as important that we check and keep our firearms in proper working conditions. My point here is that nearly every “accidental discharge” can be traced back to some form of negligence by someone, whether it be the operator, the gunsmith, or the manufacturer.
We have all decided to take on the responsibility to partake in the shooting sports. It is imperative that we enjoy this sport safely and take responsibility for our actions. If you see one your friends or even just another shooter on the line, it is absolutely your responsibility to say something, respectfully. On the other hand, if you are the person being unsafe, for whatever the reason (tired, frustrated, not paying attention, etc), then please do not take offense to someone that might say something to you.
We want to continue to be able to enjoy our firearms and our second amendment right, so it is critical that we follow these safety rules.