“What? It’s Not Even Loaded!”
These infamous five words will jolt waves of terror through any faithful gun enthusiast. They have haunted gun enthusiasts for decades and, moments after uttering those words, have resulted in countless casualties.
No one should ever utter these words as they display a lack of experience and confirm a disregard for safety.
The true mark of a gun enthusiast is the desire to fix this train of thought. To raise the bottom line and strengthen the gun culture as a whole. Many people need to be educated on why this thought process is so deadly and dangerous but, how do we do that?
Understand why that sentence is so deadly.
It is important to realize that all guns are dangerous, regardless of what you think. Anyone who was ever accidentally shot, was shot with an unloaded gun. Sit back and let that sentence soak in for a minute. Just think about it.
The key word here is accident. If something was done accidentally, then the person did not intend for the outcome that resulted. They pointed the gun and pulled the trigger, yes, but their action was intended to be a joke.
Deep down they did not want to shoot their friend or themselves, but it happened. They wouldn’t have done it if they had known the gun was loaded. To them, it was unloaded. They triple checked that it was empty and they even counted the rounds on the table.
Wait, whoops. That was last week. All it takes is one mistake. One lapse in judgment can be lethal when it comes to firearms.
Understand their perception.
This is the tough part. Educating people is much harder than it seems. I was plinking at the range last week and enjoying the weather. A dad and his son were in the lane next to me doing the same.
The RSO called the range cold and we all took a break. The kid cleared and locked the action back on his 10/22 and let the RSO check it. All is going well, but then he takes the rifle to the table behind the lanes, muzzle sweeping everyone. The harsh words from both the RSO and father led to the infamous sentence, “what? It’s not even loaded!”
Still fairly standard. Kid learning to shoot makes a mistake and gets reprimanded. But what was interesting to me was that he still could not grasp why it mattered. His father could not get it through his head that the rifle was dangerous, despite it being cleared and action open.
This concept must be very unintuitive to a child because it goes against everything they have learned about the world. To him, the gun was unloaded and safe. I can imagine his thought process.
“When the car is turned off I can take my seat belt off because it’s safe. Why isn’t the gun safe when it is in the same idle state?” They ended up leaving after that, but the whole situation made me think about educating and understanding certain types of people.
Get them to listen
I guarantee that there are plenty of gun owners who think the same as this kid did. I’m sure he’ll turn out fine because he has someone to guide him and teach him. However, it must be a hard concept for those without that same lead, to grasp.
If someone grew up around irresponsible gun owners, never had a proper education, or never had formal training, how can they be rewired to think about guns differently? Trust. They need to trust you, or whoever is trying to help them.
If you want to teach them, you need to empathize and relate to them. Show them that your way is the right way and that they should trust you. Obviously, this is situational as every person will respond differently. You need to understand what will make them listen.
Teach them about gun safety and make sure they understand that the #1 rule is the number one for a reason! “Always treat every gun as if it’s loaded.”
If you want to strengthen the gun culture, start with the bottom line. Changing those who are unsafe will make everyone’s perception better. Fewer deaths, injuries, and news headlines will help people feel better about firearms.
It will be a thankless task, but you could save someone’s life! Only the negative aspects of guns are seen by the masses, but less mistakes equals less negative attention.