“This is my safety, sir.”
If you are unfamiliar with this line, you need to stop reading right now and go watch one of the greatest modern military movies ever, Black Hawk Down. The rest of you probably remember the scene where one of the Delta soldiers, SFC Norm 'Hoot' Gibson (Eric Bana) is in the chow hall in Somalia and is approached by Captain Stone (Lucious Mallfoy). Captain Stone chastises Hoot for carrying a hot weapon (loaded and on fire) and reminds him that the safety should be on. Hoot responds by curling his index finger and delivering this line, before walking off.
In the movie, this scene is intended to show how the uptight Captain doesn’t know anything about combat and how the “real soldier” from Delta doesn’t need to adhere to any kind of weapon safety practices, because...well, I'm not exactly sure what the logic is behind this. The implication seems to be that, if you are highly trained (as all members of Delta most certainly are) then practicing weapon safety is irrelevant. As Mark Bowden wrote in the book version,
"Ranger rules required that any weapon, loaded or unloaded, have the safety on at all times when at the base. It was an eminently sensible rule, a basic principle of handling weapons safely."
The point of this post is not to get into a debate about precisely when and under what circumstances military personnel in a combat zone should have their weapons off safe and ready to fire. The point is to emphasize that weapon safety should be a primary concern for all shooters, no matter how highly trained. Anyone who responds with the, "This is my safety" finger curl is telling you that they don't take weapon's safety seriously. But, you know, don't take my word for it, listen to Paul Howe, Owner of Combat Shooting and Tactics.
Why use the safety?
First, it keep you from shooting yourself, your buddy or an innocent person. We are employed in a fast moving high stress job that requires doing the job right the first time. Early law enforcement training impressed upon me the idea that you cannot “unring a bell.” The same holds true for shooting. Once the hammer falls, you cannot bring that bullet back. It is something that is easy to correct with a good range practice. Next and as important is the discrimination issue. It is my belief that the safety requires you to do one more critical thought out act before taking a human life. It is one final thought process or “buffer” if you will, to ensure you have discriminated thoroughly and effectively and the target you are going to destroy absolutely bad and not an innocent civilian or your buddy coming in from a different angle.
During ten years in military special operations, I can remember at several instances in live fire training where operators shot themselves because their weapon were not on safe and their reliance on a straight finger failed them. In one instance, a piece of gear snagged the weapon when it was dropped to its sling while the operator was fighting with a role player. In another instance, a shooter released a breaching shotgun to its sling to employ his primary weapon. Upon reaching back to re-employ the shotgun, his grab connected with the trigger, discharging a lock-buster round into his calf.
Regardless of whether or not you are military or law enforcement, if you are a trained and responsible gun owner, you probably found yourself nodding in agreement and probably remembering back to your own weapon safety 'war story.' However, if you are one of those "This is my Safety" morons, you are probably rolling your eyes right now asking why you should listen to some random shooting instructor, that those wussies from Veri-Fire are quoting at you.
Well, it's because before Paul Howe was "some random shooting instructor," he was SFC Paul Howe, member of Delta Force, and survivor of the Battle of Mogadishu. If someone as well-trained and battle-tested as Paul Howe is concerned with weapons safety, you should be too.
Please don't misread this, we are definitively NOT saying that every member of the Special Operations community should be equipped with Guardian on their sidearm before they head out on their next operation. Just so we're crystal clear, Guardian is not designed or intended for military or law-enforcement use. However, most of the gun owners out there are not law enforcement or military and even those that are, aren't on duty all of the time. Guardian is intended to provide an additional layer of weapon safety for home protection, to balance the need to be both ready and responsible. It won't be the right safety solution for every gun owner, but every gun owner does have a responsibility to store and handle their weapons safely, "Delta or no Delta."
At Veri-Fire, we believe in the power of the community and encourage opinions and healthy debate. That said, please be respectful and refrain from personal insults and profanity. We reserve the right to monitor and remove comments that do not conform to these guidelines.