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Four Rules of Gun Safety

fordag

Operator
The NRA has 3 primary rules:
1) ALWAYS Keep your gun pointed in a safe direction
2) ALWAYS Keep Your Finger Off The Trigger Until Ready To Shoot
3) ALWAYS Keep The Gun Unloaded Until Ready To Use


As long as you are following them, I don't think it matters how word it.

As evidenced by my avatar I'm an NRA instructor. I do not and never have agreed with the NRA's wording of the rules. (Three is especially offensive) When I teach a class I hand out the NRA rules handout and then I teach students the actual rules.

I prefer to go with the rules as set down by Cooper. Who, as the American Rifleman put it:

"Cooper single-handedly changed the entire methodology for small arms in all branches of the U.S. military. He modernized Applegate’s outmoded “hip shooting” and “point shooting” techniques with a thoroughly new method. In the process, he transformed law enforcement handgun training nationwide, from the FBI Academy to Mayberry RFD."

Cooper may well have had quite an ego but he earned it. No other single person has had as much of an effect on the way military, law enforcement and civilians shoot handguns.
 

cico7

Master Class
I too am an NRA instructor and I follow NRA guidelines since it is NRA snd they provide club insurance and instructor. If you choose to deviate from the guidelines and operate outside the program it is your option.
I do not see any reason to complain about how someone else lists 4 elements of safety.
 

jumpinjoe

Professional
Why was it felt the order of the rules needed to be changed? One & two are reversed in the article.

They have always been:

1. All guns are always loaded!
2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy!
3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target!
4. Always be sure of your target!
– Jeff Cooper
IIRC, for many years, the first rule was to "always consider the gun is loaded" or "make sure every gun is UNloaded", or words very close to that. Then sometime in the late 90's or early 2000's the NRA revised the general safety rules to make the first rule "to always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction". The rationale being that even an 'unloaded' gun should always be pointed in a safe direction..... and as long as it is pointed in a safe direction, even an unexpectedly loaded gun won't cause harm. (My interpretation)!

I originally thought that in reality, it could probably be argued either way, but after I considered the rationale for that change, I decided it did make sense to revise the rules as they did. Now I don't know who exactly saw the need for the change, nor even if he/she was an NRA member or supporter, but I like his/her thinking.

I don't think either set of rules is bad, or more wrong/right than the other. They're both common sense, but I think the one supported by the national organization is the one most likely to be accepted by the general public. (y)(y)(y)
 

fordag

Operator
IIRC, for many years, the first rule was to "always consider the gun is loaded" or "make sure every gun is UNloaded", or words very close to that. Then sometime in the late 90's or early 2000's the NRA revised the general safety rules to make the first rule "to always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction". The rationale being that even an 'unloaded' gun should always be pointed in a safe direction..... and as long as it is pointed in a safe direction, even an unexpectedly loaded gun won't cause harm. (My interpretation)!

I originally thought that in reality, it could probably be argued either way, but after I considered the rationale for that change, I decided it did make sense to revise the rules as they did. Now I don't know who exactly saw the need for the change, nor even if he/she was an NRA member or supporter, but I like his/her thinking.

I don't think either set of rules is bad, or more wrong/right than the other. They're both common sense, but I think the one supported by the national organization is the one most likely to be accepted by the general public. (y)(y)(y)
The NRA's idea of gun safety rules and Jeff Cooper's gun safety rules are not the same and have little relation to each other.

What I always quote are Jeff Cooper's rules, they have not changed much since he codified them in the late 70's early 80's and now they will never change, Cooper passed in 2006, nor do they need change or modification.

You can see the genesis for Cooper's rules in the US military safety rules encompassed in FM 23-35, AUTOMATIC PISTOL, CALIBER .45 M1911 AND M1911A1, 1940. Cooper was commissioned as an officer in the Marines in 1941 prior to Pearl Harbor, so he would have been very familiar with this manual.

"Section VII
Individual Safety Precautions
25. Rules for Safety.
a. Execute UNLOAD every time the pistol is picked up for any purpose. Never trust your memory. Consider every pistol
as loaded until you have proved it otherwise.
...
d. Never place the finger within the trigger guard until you intend to fire or to snap for practice.
e. Never point the pistol at anyone you do not intend to shoot nor in a direction where an accidental discharge may do harm. On the range, do not snap for practice while standing back of the firing line.
..."
(The list continues to n.)

Normally I might agree with your statement:
"I don't think either set of rules is bad, or more wrong/right than the other. They're both common sense, but I think the one supported by the national organization is the one most likely to be accepted by the general public."
I was however trained on Cooper's rules and I find them to be much more specific and more applicable to real life than the NRA's rules.
Also the switch I was originally referring to in the article concerned Cooper's rules not the NRA's.

BTW NRA's safety rules history:
1964
1. Treat every gun as if it were loaded.
2. Always point the muzzle in a safe direction.
3. Be sure of your target.
1989
1. Always point the muzzle in a safe direction.
2. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
3. Keep the action open and gun unloaded until ready to use it.
... They go on to list a total of 10 safety rules!
2006 - Today
Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.
Always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
Always keep the gun unloaded until ready to use.

Way to be consistent NRA.
 
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fordag

Operator
I too am an NRA instructor and I follow NRA guidelines since it is NRA snd they provide club insurance and instructor. If you choose to deviate from the guidelines and operate outside the program it is your option.
I do not see any reason to complain about how someone else lists 4 elements of safety.
Misquoting someone is never a good thing to do. That's what the author did by changing the order of the rules. He was not quoting the NRA's rules, he was misquoting Jeff Cooper's rules.

I would add: The order in which the rules are presented was given a great deal of thought by Cooper. Just as the steps in clearing an automatic are critically important, the order in which the rules are laid out is important and should be respected.
 
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jumpinjoe

Professional
The NRA's idea of gun safety rules and Jeff Cooper's gun safety rules are not the same and have little relation to each other.

What I always quote are Jeff Cooper's rules, they have not changed much since he codified them in the late 70's early 80's and now they will never change, Cooper passed in 2006.

You can see the genesis for Cooper's rules in the US military safety rules encompassed in FM 23-35, AUTOMATIC PISTOL, CALIBER .45 M1911 AND M1911A1, 1940. Cooper was commissioned as an officer in the Marines in 1941 prior to Pearl Harbor, so he would have been very familiar with this manual.

"Section VII
Individual Safety Precautions
25. Rules for Safety.
a. Execute UNLOAD every time the pistol is picked up for any purpose. Never trust your memory. Consider every pistol
as loaded until you have proved it otherwise.
...
d. Never place the finger within the trigger guard until you intend to fire or to snap for practice.
e. Never point the pistol at anyone you do not intend to shoot nor in a direction where an accidental discharge may do harm. On the range, do not snap for practice while standing back of the firing line.
..."
(The list continues to n.)

Normally I might agree with your statement:
"I don't think either set of rules is bad, or more wrong/right than the other. They're both common sense, but I think the one supported by the national organization is the one most likely to be accepted by the general public."
I was however trained on Cooper's rules and I find them to be much more specific and more applicable to real life than the NRA's rules.
Also the switch I was originally referring to in the article concerned Cooper's rules not the NRA's.
I gotcha. I wasn't trying to argue or contradict you friend, just providing a little different viewpoint. I don't have a single thing against Jeff Cooper or anyone else who practices safe gun handling. But I do absolutely insist on safe gun handling in any situation where gun handling is involved.

I too am/was an NRA instructor in 5 disciplines and a training counselor from the early 70's till the early 2000's. Then a bad heart attack and 4 back surgeries over 13 months took so much out of me I just couldn't do it anymore. After the attack I let my credentials expire. I still teach one or two every now and then just as a favor with no charges nor certifications.

I was also a state certified hunter safety instructor for the better part of 16 yrs before the health issues. And from the early 80's through about 2003-4 iirc, I was a lease holder and hunt club manager for a 4,000 acre club lease. And in every case and situation 'Safety' was the ultimate rule. In all those situations of teaching and conversing about 'gun safety rules', I never had anyone ask "who wrote those rules", or "where did those rules derive from" or "why is that rule first", etc, etc?

And BTW, there are probably more certified instructors like us here on this/our forum than "Campbells" has pork 'n' beans. It's a title most wear proudly and practice as much or more than they preach. I don't think you'll find anyone here who will argue against any safety practices. Probably won't find anyone here who will argue that one set of rules is better than another ..... as long as they all are aknowledged and followed.

I guess I said all that to simply say "safety is safety" regardless of which rule is repeated first or second. I think we can agree on that. All 4 or 5 rules are plain common sense when explained to most folks, and as long as all the rules are practiced all the time, every time, they actually all come together as the 'Rule of "Safe Gun Handling". Agreed? (y)(y)(y)
 

javbike

Custom
I gotcha. I wasn't trying to argue or contradict you friend, just providing a little different viewpoint. I don't have a single thing against Jeff Cooper or anyone else who practices safe gun handling. But I do absolutely insist on safe gun handling in any situation where gun handling is involved.

I too am/was an NRA instructor in 5 disciplines and a training counselor from the early 70's till the early 2000's. Then a bad heart attack and 4 back surgeries over 13 months took so much out of me I just couldn't do it anymore. After the attack I let my credentials expire. I still teach one or two every now and then just as a favor with no charges nor certifications.

I was also a state certified hunter safety instructor for the better part of 16 yrs before the health issues. And from the early 80's through about 2003-4 iirc, I was a lease holder and hunt club manager for a 4,000 acre club lease. And in every case and situation 'Safety' was the ultimate rule. In all those situations of teaching and conversing about 'gun safety rules', I never had anyone ask "who wrote those rules", or "where did those rules derive from" or "why is that rule first", etc, etc?

And BTW, there are probably more certified instructors like us here on this/our forum than "Campbells" has pork 'n' beans. It's a title most wear proudly and practice as much or more than they preach. I don't think you'll find anyone here who will argue against any safety practices. Probably won't find anyone here who will argue that one set of rules is better than another ..... as long as they all are aknowledged and followed.

I guess I said all that to simply say "safety is safety" regardless of which rule is repeated first or second. I think we can agree on that. All 4 or 5 rules are plain common sense when explained to most folks, and as long as all the rules are practiced all the time, every time, they actually all come together as the 'Rule of "Safe Gun Handling". Agreed? (y)(y)(y)
Agreed sure wish I lived close by would love to pick your brain jumpinjoe
 

jumpinjoe

Professional
My rationale for this assertion above in my post #25 .... "I don't think either set of rules is bad, or more wrong/right than the other. They're both common sense, but I think the one supported by the national organization is the one most likely to be accepted by the general public." .... is simply that far, far more people have heard of and can relate to the NRA than have ever heard of Jeff Cooper, so it stands to reason more folks will be accepting to that set of rules. I was in no way implying they were any better or worse than those Jeff espoused for so long. (y) (y) (y)
 

cico7

Master Class
Misquoting someone is never a good thing to do. That's what the author did by changing the order of the rules. He was not quoting the NRA's rules, he was misquoting Jeff Cooper's rules.

I would add: The order in which the rules are presented was given a great deal of thought by Cooper. Just as the steps in clearing an automatic are critically important, the order in which the rules are laid out is important and should be respected.
Who is misquoting anyone? The author of the article states he teaches and follows 4 basic rules.
Not NRA rules, Not Jeff Cooper Rules, Not Jumpinjoe rules.

Why do you feel the need to argue? IF you want to promote being an NRA instructor why argue the NRA is inconsistent and Jeff Cooper's word is law? I know nothing about Cooper to agree disagree or acknowledge the difference.

Rules change, products change, tax laws change, we change with knowledge and experience.
If your opinion is different, cool. But why jump on the author?

@jumpinjoe I guess I said all that to simply say "safety is safety" regardless of which rule is repeated first or second. I think we can agree on that. All 4 or 5 rules are plain common sense when explained to most folks, and as long as all the rules are practiced all the time, every time, they actually all come together as the 'Rule of "Safe Gun Handling". Agreed? (y)(y)(y)

Agreed.

That is all I have to say about it, cant wait for your response. I say this because I know you will. You cant let go can you? yep - I can be an ass.....
 

fordag

Operator
I gotcha. I wasn't trying to argue or contradict you friend, just providing a little different viewpoint. I don't have a single thing against Jeff Cooper or anyone else who practices safe gun handling. But I do absolutely insist on safe gun handling in any situation where gun handling is involved.

I too am/was an NRA instructor in 5 disciplines and a training counselor from the early 70's till the early 2000's. Then a bad heart attack and 4 back surgeries over 13 months took so much out of me I just couldn't do it anymore. After the attack I let my credentials expire. I still teach one or two every now and then just as a favor with no charges nor certifications.

I was also a state certified hunter safety instructor for the better part of 16 yrs before the health issues. And from the early 80's through about 2003-4 iirc, I was a lease holder and hunt club manager for a 4,000 acre club lease. And in every case and situation 'Safety' was the ultimate rule. In all those situations of teaching and conversing about 'gun safety rules', I never had anyone ask "who wrote those rules", or "where did those rules derive from" or "why is that rule first", etc, etc?

And BTW, there are probably more certified instructors like us here on this/our forum than "Campbells" has pork 'n' beans. It's a title most wear proudly and practice as much or more than they preach. I don't think you'll find anyone here who will argue against any safety practices. Probably won't find anyone here who will argue that one set of rules is better than another ..... as long as they all are aknowledged and followed.

I guess I said all that to simply say "safety is safety" regardless of which rule is repeated first or second. I think we can agree on that. All 4 or 5 rules are plain common sense when explained to most folks, and as long as all the rules are practiced all the time, every time, they actually all come together as the 'Rule of "Safe Gun Handling". Agreed? (y)(y)(y)
I hope that you are doing better after the medical issues. I'e had a few myself to include only one back surgery and I'm fortunately getting better.

The reason for my more nitty gritty response was:
"I never had anyone ask "who wrote those rules", or "where did those rules derive from" or "why is that rule first", etc, etc?"

I'm always the one who asks that question. The history of why things are the way they are interests me. So I do what I can to learn it. Not something that always served me well in the military, they are not always fond of questions.
 

fordag

Operator
Who is misquoting anyone? The author of the article states he teaches and follows 4 basic rules.
Not NRA rules, Not Jeff Cooper Rules, Not Jumpinjoe rules.

Why do you feel the need to argue? IF you want to promote being an NRA instructor why argue the NRA is inconsistent and Jeff Cooper's word is law? I know nothing about Cooper to agree disagree or acknowledge the difference.

Rules change, products change, tax laws change, we change with knowledge and experience.
If your opinion is different, cool. But why jump on the author?

@jumpinjoe I guess I said all that to simply say "safety is safety" regardless of which rule is repeated first or second. I think we can agree on that. All 4 or 5 rules are plain common sense when explained to most folks, and as long as all the rules are practiced all the time, every time, they actually all come together as the 'Rule of "Safe Gun Handling". Agreed? (y)(y)(y)

Agreed.

That is all I have to say about it, cant wait for your response. I say this because I know you will. You cant let go can you? yep - I can be an ass.....
As for misquoting. Here is my evidence, everyone should judge for themselves.

Rules from the article:

1. Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.
2. Always treat the firearm as if it is loaded.
3. Always keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
4. Always be sure of your target and what is beyond it.

Jeff Cooper's rules:
1. All guns are always loaded!
2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy!
3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target!
4. Always be sure of your target!

The article rules appear to to me to be a distinct "paraphrasing" of Jeff Cooper's rules.

I often come off as sounding like I'm arguing, it's not my intent but I have no social skills and tend to be overly direct. I haven't figured out how to fix it yet and i doubt I will.

You said:
"I know nothing about Cooper to agree disagree or acknowledge the difference."

Did you mean that you are not familiar with who Jeff Cooper is? If that is the case I urge you to look him up. We shoot the way we do now because of him. He is literally the father of the modern shooting techniques.

And while you say you can be an ass....

I know I'm an ass. :)
 
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I admire Jeff Cooper greatly. He has done much for firearms training and the self defense ethos. I often quote him in my training classes. But he did not bring his rules of gun safety down from Mt. Sinai. Nor did Massad Ayoob or Ed McGivern or Charles Askins or Bill Jordan or Thell Reid or any of the other gun gurus we read about.

The gun safety rules are hard won from sad experience of many generations of trainers over a thousand years who have seen the terrible tragedies wrought by those who did not understand their firearms or have the simple common sense to avoid negligent firearms incidents. The number of military personnel, and LE officers wounded or killed by negligent firearms discharges is tragic. It only takes a fraction of a second for a dumbass to kill you, but you always have to look at your training protocols to answer "why?"

You never underestimate the power of Murphy's Law, or the power of stupid, or untrained people, to circumvent your best efforts at keeping people safe.

One of the things we understand today better than we did 50 years ago when I first became an instructor is how adults learn. They don't just want to know what we want them to know (just shut up and do what I tell you), they want to know WHY we want them to do it that way. So let's explain it.

If re-phrasing or re-packaging the safety rules helps get the message across, I am all for it.
 

jumpinjoe

Professional
I hope that you are doing better after the medical issues. I'e had a few myself to include only one back surgery and I'm fortunately getting better.

The reason for my more nitty gritty response was:
"I never had anyone ask "who wrote those rules", or "where did those rules derive from" or "why is that rule first", etc, etc?"

I'm always the one who asks that question. The history of why things are the way they are interests me. So I do what I can to learn it. Not something that always served me well in the military, they are not always fond of questions.
Thanks for asking, and yes I'm much better, but alas also much older and slower. ;):( Thanks for the 'come back' and know that we're all good !!!
 

BobM

Hellcat
I hope that you are doing better after the medical issues. I'e had a few myself to include only one back surgery and I'm fortunately getting better.

The reason for my more nitty gritty response was:
"I never had anyone ask "who wrote those rules", or "where did those rules derive from" or "why is that rule first", etc, etc?"

I'm always the one who asks that question. The history of why things are the way they are interests me. So I do what I can to learn it. Not something that always served me well in the military, they are not always fond of questions.
Is understandable. More perspective sometimes helps? Have usually seen more common sense and truth from youngsters and oldsters than elsewhere. Fresh ideas and proven ideas may come to mind? Generally pays to keep eyes, ears and mind open.
 

Annihilator

SAINT
Founding Member
OK, y'all hold the fort down while I go get a balony sammich and take time to count my money. Neither will take very long !!! (y)(y)(y)
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