Tuesday, January 05, 2010

A Four Rules Reminder

... or, Why the Best Safety is in your Head.

I had a simple little reminder today of why we always, always, follow The Four Rules. Fortunately, there was no ND.

After work, I was changing to go run some errands at the house (since I still haven't been able to get moved in), and went to switch pistols. See, when I'm at work, I wear a suit. But I take the jacket off for most of the day, so I carry my Kel-Tec P3AT in a Crossbreed MicroClip tuckable holster, with my shirt tucked in over it. Virtually unnoticeable, but readily accessible. When I'm not at work, I carry my Taurus PT-145 in a Crossbreed SuperTuck Deluxe. But, I store it in an Uncle Mike's IWB holster. The Uncle Mike's is smaller, and fits in the drawer by my bed, which the Crossbreed doesn't. The Uncle Mike's is easier to put on or take off quickly. If I go on a rescue call in the middle of the night, I can just slip it on, where the Crossbreed takes a little more effort.

Well, I was changing pistols, and I noticed something. When I pulled the Taurus out of the Uncle Mike's holster to slip it in the Crossbreed, I realized the safety was off. Now, out of habit - which I cultivated intentionally - I look at the safety every time the gun is taken out of a holster. I can only assume that it got frobbed somehow in the process of putting it in the Uncle Mike's the night before, or I just missed that it was off.

Now, had I been relying on the safety to keep the gun from firing, there might have been a serious tragedy. But, I know that mechanical safeties can fail, or be manipulated unintentionally, so I also always, always, follow The Four Rules:

Rule 1: The gun is ALWAYS loaded! - In this case, I knew it was loaded anyway.

Rule 2: Never point the gun at anything you do not want to destroy or kill. - It was pointed at the wall, which, while not something I really want to destroy or damage, is repairable. Beyond that wall of the apartment is the brick outside wall and solid earth up to about shoulder level - definitely a safe backstop.

Rule 3: Keep your finger away from the trigger until you are ready to fire. - As always when I'm handling a gun, but not ready or planning to fire it, my trigger finger was indexed along the frame below the slide, and the other fingers were around the grip, giving me a secure hold on the weapon.

Rule 4: Be sure of your target, what is near your target, and what is BEHIND your target. - Since I wasn't planning on firing, this one is not applicable - but see my explanation above on Rule 2. I knew what I was using as a backstop if it did fire, and I knew what was behind it.

It always pays to stop and review The Four Rules occasionally. This time, I got a surprising but harmless reminder of why they exist. Next time, it could be an ND, but if I follow the Rules, it won't be a tragedy.

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