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Artistic License - Gun Safety
aka: You Fail Gun Safety Forever
Hey, Meathead, tell us what's written on the barrel of your gun. "Starsky":
It says, hu, "Hold by the other end."
Guns are dangerous things. Extremely
dangerous things. They're not just designed to hurt
; they're designed to kill
. With a flick of a single finger, one can take a life. Such power needs to be respected, and it shouldn't be surprising that there are various obvious safety rules in place when using a gun, that anyone who is trained to use a firearm should know.
Add to this, even an expert can conceivably make a serious (and dangerous) mistake when handling a gun. There is even a saying among gunsmiths that "There are two types of gun owners.
Those who have
had their guns discharge accidentally, and those who will
have their guns discharge accidentally."
Many writers, actors, artists, and directors, however, do not know these rules. What results from this are scenes where characters are doing things they shouldn't, such as placing their fingers on the triggers of their weapons when not about to fire, or pointing their weapons at people who they are not trying to shoot; one particularly common example is foolish officers making routine arrests (e.g. drunk driving or check fraud) at gunpoint for no real reason. This is particularly troublesome when these people are supposed to be
experts with lots of experience with their weapons.
The distinction between this trope and Reckless Gun Usage
is that this involves people who either should
know gun safety based on their profession, or are stated to have extensive experience with firearms
while Reckless Gun Usage
involves people who are likely not familiar with basic firearm safety. If this is done for comedic purposes it's Juggling Loaded Guns
. If this shows up and somebody gets shot, it's I Just Shot Marvin in the Face
. If the rules are followed and somebody gets shot anyway, that's Reliably Unreliable Guns
going off. Firing in the Air a Lot
a case of this, as are Pants Positive Safety
and Gun Twirling
. The trope also usually goes hand in hand with Stray Shots Strike Nothing
Another media cliche not recommended is entering a room and immediately pointing your gun forward and waving it about the room in search of potential threats as you could either drop or accidentally discharge your weapon or if there are civilians in the room, convince them that you're a hostile and cause panic. However, this is not a problem if you know there's a hostile somewhere in the building and you're trying to get rid of him.
May also be the writer hinting that a character isn't as professional as he should be.
Note that there is a very
good reason why all of the examples here are listed under Artistic License, as trying to actually replicate any of them could lead - and has led - to accidents, many of them fatal. For obvious reasons, Don't Try This at Home
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- Gunslinger Girl. The girls are noticeably lax about gun safety, and handguns show up in a few waistbands, but focus is given to the importance of proper handling in the scene that is the current page image. Henrietta is in a firing range when her pistol jams after a misfire, and she looks down the barrel of her pistol after a misfire- which is extra bad, since her cyborg implants leave her eyes as basically the only weak points. Raballo grabs her and chews her out, and then switches to berating Jose for not training her properly.
- Appleseed averts this and invokes physics: when (cyborg) Briareos leaps building to building. In-story, Deunan (whom he carried) is temporarily blind from the G-forces. In his notes he calls attention to Briareos carrying his enormous gun with his finger outside the trigger guard while leaping (proper procedure). Shirow Masamune averts this trope frequently.
- Aversion: The members of the SSS in Angel Beats! practice admirable gun safety, especially considering they died as high school aged teenagers in a country where private ownership of handguns is illegal, and owning a long arm requires lots of paperwork and licensing (as well as being an adult).
- Ghost in the Shell:
- Shirow Masamune shows proper Gun Safety again. This time noting how stupid the cops are. Situation: enemy mook is surrounded on all sides by the cops. He notes that should they all fire at the target, they would probably kill each other. Surrounding your opponent and aiming for him is not a bright idea, kids!
- This is invoked in a first-season episode of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. The character is shown running around waving his gun wildly with his finger on the trigger, uncharacteristic enough to show how unhinged the case is making him.
- However, it's later averted in 2nd Gig. When the police move in to arrest Gouda, they trap him in the middle of a hallway. The cops at one end are armed, while the cops on the other end are wielding armored riot shields to block the hallway and protect themselves from stray bullets at the same time.
- Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu plays a too-literal adherence to this trope for laughs: Sōsuke is playing an arcade light gun game, and doing quite well until the video game gun runs out of ammunition. Sōsuke immediately pulls his very real personal pistol and blows the game away. When it's explained to him that you're supposed to shoot away from the screen to reload, his response is that that would be horribly unsafe.
- Sōsuke notably always observes proper gun safety, even demonstrating proper trigger discipline in the anime's eyecatches, and indeed takes pains to introduce Kaname to the basics in an episode of The Second Raid. He just has No Social Skills — no concept of the idea that civilian life and open battlefields have different social standards for when it's acceptable to pull a loaded firearm on someone, and, as shown in the previously-mentioned example, little to no ability to make any separation in his mind between a video game's toy gun and the real thing.
- Monster averts this: Tenma's training strongly emphasizes the rules, and he later handles guns with the responsibility and care you'd expect of a surgeon.
- So Ra No Wo To:
- Inferred I Just Shot Marvin in the Face instead of an Inferred Holocaust: Episode 12, like in graduation ceremonies, helmets were tossed into the air by the troops upon learning they don't have to fight. It's all well and good until you spot loaded rifles up in the air with the helmets...
- In one episode, Kanata cleans her rifle while oblivious to the fact that's it's pointed right at Kureha's face. Kureha, oddly enough, doesn't seem to notice, and she definitely doesn't get out of the way.
- Cowboy Bebop: Spike loads his handgun and then points it directly at his partner for no reason. Jet, a freaking former cop, fails to comment. Averted partially, however, in that his finger wasn't on the trigger.
- Spike also scratches his hair using the muzzle of his gun in episode 2.
- High School Of The Dead:
- One of the survivors is a Gun Otaku and knows proper gun etiquette. He is also very fastidious in pointing it out to his fellow survivors when they handle a firearm improperly. However, points are lost when shots are fired dangerously close to main characters, only Rule of Cool prevents I Just Shot Marvin in the Face.
- Averted, played straight, and Played for Laughs in the same scene. Played straight in that one of the main characters uses one of the girl's stomach and breasts as a stand/shock-absorber for a heavy sniper rifle, firing at the horde of zombies surrounding another member of their group. Averted in that he only did it because the rifle's carrying strap was stuck and she couldn't get it off, nor maneuver it into a position to fire it herself; the constant recoil also left her with bruises in some sensitive areas. Played for laughs in the fact that the katana-wielding student in the middle of the mob suddenly went from kendo-trained minimalistic movements that would have gotten her splattered to full on Dance Battler mode, dodging the bullets via a hysterical amount of Gainaxing and upskirt-creating flips!
- Asobi Ni Ikuyo: Manami shows bad firearm discipline despite having live experience, although she likely wasn't formally trained in their handling. In episode 6, she waves a revolver in Kio's face with her finger on the trigger, and that it was unloaded is no excuse. She does it again later, when she loads the revolver and waves it around in a fast-food joint, once slamming it down on the table while pointed at Aoi. Aoi, for her part, shows better trigger discipline, save for that one incident where she was threatening to Shoot the Messenger, although the fact that she was present when Manami was waving her revolver around and did nothing is a strike against her.
- D.Gray-Man has Devit and Jasdero who are constantly pointing guns at each other. Though, they are toy guns and it is how they combine to form Jasdevi, so this might be subverted.
- In the "Go for It! Pass it!" episode of Upotte, the girls are participating in a live fire exercise. The targets? Balloons floating just above their heads. Granted, the girls are anthropomorphized guns and aren't all that affected by gunshots beyond minor bruising, but it's still jarring, considering all the other ways in which guns are depicted accurately.
- The halls of the school have proper firearm safety posters around; other than that characters generally have their fingers outside the trigger guard when not shooting, the obedience level is about what you'd expect from middle school students, which actually makes a (probably unintentionally) good case for why people that age should not have access to guns.
- Black Lagoon. Oh so very much. Rule of Cool aside, the characters ignore every common sense in using guns. Revy would be completely deaf courtesy of dual-wielding and close-quarter gunfights.
- Gunsmith Cats. An off-duty cop comes in to have some work done on his private firearm, and Rally chews him out for handing her the gun without properly clearing it yet (she even helpfully points to the indicator that Berettas have in Real Life to show that there is a round chambered).
- Soul Eater. For some reason, Death the Kid holds his guns upside down and pulls the triggers with his pinky fingers. He also has a tendency to use Gun Fu. His guns are magic, though, a type of living weapon (their names are Liz and Patty, most of the time they're fraternal twin sisters), and their effectiveness is more determined by the resonance of their souls with his than by actual physical handling. Also, he's a literal Physical God and an Eldritch Abomination, as in literally a Great Old One, so his body may actually perform according to non-Euclidean geometry.
- Averted in City Hunter, as the author took the pain to go to US and learn how to handle a gun before starting the series. There is some reckless gun usage in the series, but every time it's made clear the reckless person is an unexperienced amateur (a particular incident even concluded the Humiliation Conga of two gun robbers by having Kaori grab one of their guns and practice a particular piece of basic gun safety one of them failed to use earlier in the scene), and Ryo is shown cleaning his gun quite often.
- Fullmetal Alchemist has soldiers fire submachine guns inside a room, without everyone in the room going deaf from the noise.
- Trigun and its manga play with this trope in various ways, played straight most of the time per Rule of Cool and out of Fridge Brilliance: the setting is a solid Space Western. The rules of gun safety were under development in the frontier West and could easily have been forgotten (or be dispensed with out of necessity) in a similar environment.
- In one issue of You're Under Arrest! Natsumi jokes about making a play for Miyuki's crush, and her partner puts a gun against her head. In the precinct locker room. Traffic cops in Japan do not normally carry firearms, this might be a good explanation as to why.
- Gastro from Assassination Classroom is a professional assassin who specializes in firearms. He's constantly seen sticking the barrel of a loaded gun into is mouth, claiming that he can gauge the quality of each gun by doing so. He also enjoys filling his gun with soup, then sticking the barrel into his mouth and drinking out of it like a straw. He's very confident that he'll never accidentally shoot himself.
- In Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, Cagalli at one point is aiming a gun at Athrun, while both are stranded on an island. She's in a fair amount of emotional distress at the time, and ultimately decides that she can't shoot Athrun, and throws the gun to the ground... at which point it fires. Nobody is hit, but Athrun spends the next few seconds angrily screaming at her for treating a loaded and cocked gun that way.
- Superdickery provides an example: This.
- G.I. Joe. These guys are supposed to be elite. Yet posing for a photo while holding a gun like this in Real Life is how civilians get featured on "Idiots with Guns" blog.
- In the Spirou and Fantasio comic "QRN sur Bretzelburg", Spirou empties the magazine of an automatic rifle by firing it straight up. His squirrel friend worries that he might hit a bird, but no mention is made of the fact that those bullets will be coming straight down in a few seconds. It also doesn't occur to Spirou that he could just remove the magazine and throw it in the lake if he wants to neutralise the weapon, instead of risking alerting any guards pursuing him.
- Pretty Cure Heavy Metal: During any of Shugo's temporary Face Heel Turns in the second half of the first season her finger will always be on the trigger of her gun, and she will aim as though she was confused as to who she's aiming for. Thankfully, she'll only spend approximately one minute (usually; she was reckless with her gun for the entirety of episode 45) as a Heel before going through the revolving door to the Face side. As for the aforementioned episode 45... her Face-Heel Turn lasted for the duration of that episode (during which she's a Well-Intentioned Extremist whose quarry is a Satanist), only ending when she realizes she had recklessly endangered her own friends in chasing the Satanist.
- Misfiled Dreams Averted: when Ash reaches under a car seat to check that a weapon the car's owner just told her about is there, the owner chastises Ash and tells her about the rules for gun handling.
- Toy Hammer Averted and excused: when Vincent does his best to observe basic firearms safety (safety catch, finger off trigger), although earlier he does ignore a few basic rules. Justified in that he had almost been murdered by Ax-Crazy cultists (it took more than one attempt to reload the pistol).
- Finishing The Fight: Averted. When presenting their weapons to medieval era guards, the Chief still shows them his battle-rifle's empty chamber and removed magazine before putting it down on the table, empties out his shotgun and pistol while Johnson does the same, and the Arbiter does the plasma-rifle equivalent. Bonus points for him turning on the safety first. Later, when they are teaching others how to use the guns, the Chief first stresses the correct procedures for unloading, reloading and teaching them what the "safety" is.
- Also averted when Keyes and Johnson take out the weapons of mass destruction, Johnson comments:
Johnson: You will not trigger these things by banging, dropping, or otherwise manhandling them. (closes the second case) Nevertheless, and I want everyone to hear me very carefully here, you treat this shit as if it were armed, and the slightest jostle could set it off. You treat it, as if the very second you stop respecting it for what it is, that it will kill you.
- Discussed and mostly averted in Diaries of a Madman. Nav takes the use of his crossbow quite seriously, and warns Spike about using it responsibly.
- Shows up in Article2. The human main character, Major Shane Doran, USMC, scratches his head with a loaded M9. Both the character and the author are marines, and would know proper gun safety, but Shane is by that point so psychologically broken down that he literally doesn't care whether he lives or dies.
Films — Animation
- Beauty and the Beast: Gaston declares his intent to marry Belle by pointing his gun at her. Not a good idea. It is true that his blunderbuss had recently been discharged and should have been empty, but later in the film he demonstrates that his blunderbuss is fully automatic, which is another problem entirely.
- Robin Hood: Prison guard Trigger and "Old Betsy", his not-so-trusty crossbow, which he is none too careful with aiming. At one point he absentmindedly has the arrow aimed right at the sheriff's nose; when told to point the crossbow the other way, Trigger assures that the safety is on, patting Betsy's side and immediately causing an accidental discharge. Minutes later as he and the sheriff investigate a strange noise, he is pointing the arrow right at the sheriff's back.
- In Mega Mind during the celebration of Metro Man's museum police officers can be seen in the crowd firing their pistols up into the air. Thanks to gravity, what goes up must come down, those bullets should have hit someone in the crowd or someone far off in the distance (stray bullets have been known to hit people at over a mile away) but fortunately it doesn't appear that anyone was hurt. Still very reckless behavior for supposedly trained police officers.
- Wreck-It Ralph: Averted by Calhoun. Watch her trigger finger closely: if not intending to fire it's outside the trigger guard, also when she checks her sidearm's mag before entry into Sugar Rush.
Films — Live-Action
- Often in movies, TV and animation, if firearms are being stored or transported, they are depicted with magazines in. This does not happen in real life, as having the magazine on the weapon makes it impossible to verify if the weapon is unloaded. An armoury full of loaded weapons is the dramatic equivalent of a car dealership having every car parked with keys in the ignition and a full tank of fuel.
- Pulp Fiction, the Trope Namer for I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: Vincent, an experienced hitman, is talking with Marvin, a guy he and Jules picked up in the aftermath of their hit near the beginning of the movie, in the backseat of Jules' car. When he turns to speak with Marvin, Vincent rests his hand on the edge of the seat, his pistol pointed straight at Marvin with his finger still on the trigger. When Jules hits a bumpnote , Vincent accidentally fires the weapon, shooting Marvin in the face and blowing his brains all over the rear window. Even after the accident, Vincent doesn't remove his finger from the trigger; he continues waving it around as though the gun had nothing to do with the mess in the backseat.
- In the film version of Watchmen, Nite Owl and Silk Specter decide to rescue some people trapped in a burning apartment block. Nite Owl does this by severing the support struts on a water tower on the roof of the building. With a minigun. The movie does not address the possible implications of firing a fucking minigun in the middle of a city. Anyone who knows anything about overpenetration or trajectory could tell him that this is a moronic idea.
- In Heat, Neil McCauley does a brass check in the hotel elevator, on his way to kill Waingro. While checking your pistol to make sure there's a round in the chamber when going into combat is a good idea, McCauley does it by putting his whole hand over the barrel to push back the slide. If gone wrong, he could have blown his hand off. This is a rare example in a movie that otherwise notably averts much of this trope.
- Monkey Business. A gangster hands revolvers to both Groucho and Zeppo on two separate occasions. Both times he does so he immediately realizes that they are absentmindedly pointing them right at him, and grabs their hands to turn the guns aside. Don't hand weapons to people who don't know proper gun safety, somebody will get shot in the face. Another gangster in the same film gives guns to Chico and Harpo.
- Averted: Burt Gummer, a survivalist and gun-enthusiast, always follows proper weapon safety. At one point he gives a revolver to teenaged waste-of-space Melvin Plug, to get him moving to a safe-point. Despite knowing that he'd deliberately handed Melvin an unloaded gun, when Burt takes it back from Melvin he still flips it open and re-confirms the chambers are all empty... which is exactly what you're supposed to do any time you pick up a weapon.
- Played with in the sequel; Burt is called out multiple times by the others for either "improper" safety, or for using a grossly oversized weapon and ending up damaging their expected getaway vehicle. Burt usually calls them out when they say he's doing something the wrong way or forgetting something, either saying he was given bad info or that he was, actually, doing it right. As for the oversized weapon? He was armed to shoot 30-foot subterranean monsters, not 3-foot tall Zerg Rush screamers. And he really couldn't have known that the car was going to be damaged; the bullet passed through three concrete or sheet-metal walls before wrecking the engine. It was an anti-tank rifle after all.
- Black Hawk Down: During the barbecue scene, the Ranger unit CO calls out a Delta Force operator for wandering around with a loaded M4 carbine hanging from his neck with the safety catch off. The operator then laughs in his face (and says "this is my safety", holding up his trigger finger). This was based on a real precise incident described in a book by journalist Mark Bowden. In contrast, standard procedure for most American military personnel is for the weapon to remain on Safe until they are about to fire.
- Independence Day: during the Gondor Calls for Aid scene, specifically the bit in Iraq with the British soldiers, one of them can be seen holding his sidearm for no apparent reason while looking at the map, with his finger clearly on the trigger, and the barrel pointed directly at one of the other officers.
- The Dark Knight
- Harvey Dent seems to have a bit of a devil-may-care attitude toward gun-safety even while he's sane. He cleary knows something about guns when he removes the magazine and chambered round from the pistol in the courtroom. On the other hand, he points an unloaded pistol at a criminal to get him to talk, which is still against gun safety rules (and is called out on it by Batman). Once he goes crazy, you can bet that whatever safety measures he ever followed are gone.
- The Joker, being who he is, naturally doesn't think gun safety means anything, and at one point causes several accidental discharges while stumbling around in a daze, but it only makes him laugh.
- Lethal Weapon
- The NRA newsletter had a few articles about the ludicrous lack of basic gun safety shown throughout the series.
- In the third film, Murtaugh accidentally fires his revolver in the locker room while putting it in his holster, showing that he's either getting too old for this shit, or that he's not all with it. Riggs covers the mishap by smashing in some lockers, producing an apparently identical sound.
- In Lethal Weapon 4, Riggs in effect tells Leo, "You haven't got a badge so you ought not to have a gun—" (throws Leo's property into the ocean) "—but I have a badge, so it's okay for me to point my gun at your face point-blank for a laugh. Clear?"
- Also in Lethal Weapon 4, during Chris Rock's (hilarious) rant at Joe Pesci for asking "Who's the perp?" Rock is pointing his gun directly at Pesci with his finger on the trigger. Why does he think all those bullets were flying around his neighborhood when he was a kid?
- The only time it's really understandable is Riggs' attempted suicide scenes in the first movie. Yes, it isn't safe for a man to put a loaded gun in his own mouth, but you don't expect a man who's trying to muster the courage needed to kill himself to follow proper gun safety (Why his superiors let him carry a gun while he's in this state is another matter entirely).
- Heartbreak Ridge: one of the screwup Marines grossly mishandles his automatic rifle during target practice. This resulted in a burst of bullets narrowly missing the jerkass superior officer. The Marine is punished by doing laps for miles, with his rifle held over his head, till he falls down in exhaustion. This was considered somewhat cruel by the other members of his platoon; if this happened in real life, hell would rain down on this guy for time out of mind.
- Men In Black
- In a firing range exercise early in the film, J is rationalizing his choice of targets to Z while waving a loaded gun around. He points it at Z at least twice. Note that J is a police officer for the NYPD, and should know better about proper gun safety.
- Possibly averted in the novelisation - from memory, J went to fire a second round, but the action was open with the slide back - only a single round loaded in each pistol. If he was waving the weapon around it would still be unsafe... but at least no rounds would possibly be in there.
- Later, two mistakes are made when K gives J the Noisy Cricket (a powerful gun that looks more like a child's toy than anything else):
- The first mistake was by K: he shouldn't have given J a gun that he didn't know how to use.
- The other mistake comes when J protests at being handed such a wimpy-looking weapon and points it at K's head. K turns, flinches, and points the gun away from both of them.
- Related to the first mistake: later, in the field, J attempts to use the Noisy Cricket (which he still doesn't know how to use and hasn't trained with) on a fleeing alien. The result: he blows up a car and the force of the blast sends him flying into a windshield.
- In the third film, we see that the gun does apparently have some kind of low-yield, more practical setting. K may have incorrectly — and still dangerously — assumed that the gun was left on that setting.
- The Way of the Gun Averted: various characters are pointedly shown holding guns without their fingers on the triggers. The director hired his brother, an ex-Navy SEAL, to coach the actors on how to properly handle guns.
- Star Wars
- Obi-Wan Kenobi hands a Luke a weapon without first explaining how it works. A weapon that will instantly kill or maim you if you even slightly mishandle it.
- This scene is parodied (like damn near everything else) in LEGO Star Wars. Not only does Obi-wan dive out of the way when Luke lights the saber, Luke accidentally beheads Threepio.
- Later, Obi-Wan has Luke being shot at by a little droid (which made Luke flinch in pain every time he was hit) then intentionally put a blinding face mask on him, even though Luke was only standing a couple feet away from Chewy while holding a plasma sword of death.
- In Jedi, while on Endor, Leia demonstrates terrible trigger discipline to the extent that she could have easily killed Wicket through a negligent discharge - all due to her having her finger in the trigger guard. She could have easily shot herself when holstering her weapon as well.
- Starship Troopers
- During the long-shot of the "Live Fire" exercise, you can see that the range has no walls to the sides and other trainees are doing their thing right next to it. The recruits take the course in teams, with the next sent directly behind the previous! Then, the characters must face off against targets that shoot lasers at their training vests, which give the victim an electric shock. This causes one soldier to clamp down on the trigger and fire wildly in all directions, killing another. Rico is blamed for taking the recruit's helmet off, when the whole scene was a disaster waiting to happen. This was definitely intentional on the part of the director, who was satirizing military culture. Contrast the original book, where the protagonist is nearly drummed out of the military for firing a simulated (harmless) weapon without following all protocols even when he was dead certain it would land in a safe place.
- One of the propaganda films has a group of soldiers pass their rifles to a bunch of kids, who immediately begin to do exactly what you'd expect of a bunch of idiot children given a cool new toy. The guns are obviously loaded, since there's a visible magazine near the back.
- Another sequence shows the troops surrounding one of the giant, fire-breathing bugs in a circle and closing in on it while firing away with extreme prejudice. Rifftrax had a field day pointing out that shooting that much ammo ("Good thing our guns hold 200 bullets!...500 bullets!...1,000 bullets!") in close quarters directly facing your squadmates is probably not the best of tactics.
- Shooter Aversion: Bob Lee Swagger shows exemplary gun safety, to be expected of an experienced sniper. Central to the plot is the fact he responsibly disables his guns before leaving his house, swapping out the firing pins — "... looks right, you'd need a micrometer to tell... but the gun don't shoot." It should be noted that this is far beyond normal safe storage and is being done because he is Properly Paranoid. Also averted in that Swagger points out to a cop that his holster being unsnapped was unsafe the cop had it unsnapped because he was there to shoot Swagger and was just being prepared, and snapping it may have been what allowed Swagger to escape. However, at the end of the movie he loads and points his rifle, a large .408 Cheyenne Tactical, at someone's head and pulls the trigger, trusting that the agency holding his weapon as evidence didn't re-install the pin while trying to frame him. May be justified, as he was planning to test it on Memphis, then seem to change his mind, and tested it at Johnson instead, so even if the pin had been re-installed and the gun had went off (in which he would not be able to prove his innocence), he would have at least killed Johnson, and Memphis would be left unharmed.
- Inglourious Basterds: When the Nazis stand in a small circle and shoot at the floor in the middle to kill the hidden Dreyfuss family. Even if you don't shoot your own feet, you might shoot your friends'.
- First Blood: John Rambo only kills one guy (by assaulting a helicopter with a rock). All of the other deaths are due to the Sheriff and his deputies flagrantly ignoring any semblance of safety (even that one could have been avoided if the deputy hadn't taken off his harness).
- Phantasm aversion: Jody gives some firearms combat instruction to his younger brother Michael.
Jody: Now, remember: you don't aim a gun at a man unless you intend to shoot him. And, you don't shoot a man unless you intend to kill him. No warning shots. Hey, you listening to me? No warning shots. Warning shots are bullshit. You shoot to kill, or you don't shoot at all.
- The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Tom Sawyer is shown being taught to shoot by Alan Quartermain. Sawyer then takes a moment to lean on the upturned gun contemplatively, putting his chin on the barrel of the explicitly loaded weapon. Especially stupid considering Sawyer is a Secret Service agent and should have received proper weapon training.
- RoboCop (1987): The title hero twirls his gun via a finger inside the trigger guard, mimicking the lead of a show within the movie, "TJ Lazer". Being a cop who's not exactly a rookie, impressing his kid or not Murphy should have known how dangerous that could be, to himself and others. Even though Murphy is shown putting a magazine into the weapon afterwards, you're supposed to treat all guns as loaded at all times.
- Additionally, his partner, Lewis, calmly approaches and compliments him. An experienced cop or other individual with firearms training would likely take cover and say something along the lines of, "What the hell are you doing, you lunatic?!"
- In an example that could be this trope or Reckless Gun Usage, an executive called Dick Jones is showing off his new military prototype robot ED-209. He grabs a Hand Cannon, slides a magazine in, waves it at a crowded boardroom, then tells the younger executive to use the gun in a threatening manner. The young executive takes it and then points it right at Dick Jones. Given Jones' company handles military contracts, Jones should have known this breaks pretty much every rule about gun-handling.
- The Sentinel Aversion: A Secret Service agent is shot on his doorstep, and the Arlington PD initially assumes that he didn't have time to get the safety off. Kiefer Sutherland, (who is not to be questioned), says that Secret Service agents only pull their gun out when they absolutely intend to fire, so the dead agent would have released the safety while drawing his weapon.
- It's worth noting that the Secret Service carries the Sig Sauer P229 which, just like the P228 Sutherland carries in the film, has no external safety to release.
- Kick-Ass: Big Daddy teaches his preteen daughter not to be scared of guns by putting her in a bullet proof vest and shooting her. Averted later on, when Big Daddy pulls a gun on an intruder, before realizing that the intruder is on his side. Big Daddy removes the magazine, empties the chamber and then puts it on the table pointing away from them.
- Big Jake: In the first, Wayne's character casually shoves a pistol into the front of his pants; it probably wasn't loaded, but he doesn't even bother to check first.
- The Punisher (2004); Aversion: Each and every time Frank Castle racks the slide to load one of his custom .45 autos he always carefully eases the slide open a quarter-inch afterwards to confirm a round was indeed chambered using the grooves on the front of the slide, which is exactly what they were put there for.
- I, Robot: Detective Spooner (Will Smith's character) wakes up, pulls a gun out from under his pillow, and scratches his head with it. With his finger on the trigger. Then again, it's hinted Spooner may be slightly suicidal from Survivors Guilt, which would justify such reckless behavior. There's also a moment in the final battle when Spooner's partner shoots a robot in the vicinity of Spooner... with her eyes closed. This promptly gets lampshaded by Spooner and the nearby pedestrian, who scold her for firing her gun in a way that might have hit them.
- Iron Man 2: For being in the weapons manufacturing business, Justin Hammer has a serious disregard for practicing trigger control. Even if you're willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that he made sure none of those guns were loaded before his little show-and-tell with Rhodey and the other USAF guys, he points at least two of the weapons directly at them and has his finger on the trigger. He also keeps cocking the weapons to show off. It's possible that this is intentional to show what an idiot he is, but you'd think at the least Rhodey and the other officers would be diving for cover when he did it rather than calmly listening to his pitch.
- Once Upon a Time in the West: In the opening scene, one of the gunmen catches an annoying fly in the barrel of his gun, then keeps it in by putting his finger on the end, keeping his index finger on the trigger the entire time.
- The Baader Meinhof Complex: during a scene in which Andreas Baader's gang is counting the money they have robbed from several banks. One of the members is examining a loaded pistol and it discharges, the bullet narrowly missing Andreas' head. After he grabs the gun and shouts at her, he unloads the magazine, clears the chamber and leaves it open before throwing the gun down on a table.
- Battlefield Earth: Terl intentionally hands a human prisoner a ready-to-fire weapon, to prove his point that the "human animals" are too stupid to operate firearms, even though the human has already shot one person, according to his subordinates. The prisoner ends up killing Terl's lieutenant with it. Psychlos are shown to not store loaded weapons, so this is apparently another example of the bizarre arrogance that Psychlos have toward humans in believing that they're not sentient, even though Terl knows for a fact humans once had a capable military (even if it was vastly inferior to their own).
- Plan 9 from Outer Space: A cop in the graveyard using his revolver to gesture around, point out things, and scratch the side of his head. Legend has it that the actor knew exactly what he was doing, but had heard that Ed Wood was unwilling to reshoot anything, so he was trying to see what he could get away with. Everything apparently.
- Hot Fuzz parodied this; they seem to have made a list of the most common gun un-safety practices. From an old man who repeatedly whacks a dud ocean mine to Danny accidentally shooting the local Doctor in the leg twice, and all of the firing-a-full-magazine-into-the-air drama in between. Given all the Shown Their Work in the film, it was probably deliberate.
- Bad Boys 2: has a scene where Marcus and Mike decide to mess with the teenage boy picking up Marcus' daughter for a date. Mike pretends to be a drunk ex-con and points his gun at the kid's head.
- Note that the actor playing the kid was never shown the gun was unloaded before filming the scene, nor even told about it in advance - both violations of standard safety precautions on film sets.
- Tequila Sunrise: Kurt Russell's police detective character hands Michelle Pfeiffer's gun-untrained character a pistol to protect herself while meeting a drug lord, telling her "That's ready to fire."
- In Bruges: Ken is very careful with his guns. Harry locks his guns away when he's at home so his kids can't get at them. Ray is a bit more careless, but as he's young, reckless, and a bit suicidal, this is in character for him (and he never points a gun at anyone he doesn't want to kill, though his occasional poor aim when he does want to kill someone tends to get him in trouble). At one point a man tries to rob Ray with a gun loaded with blanks — Ray wrestles the gun off him and fires it directly into the man's eye. The blanks leave him partially blind.
- Bowling for Columbine has an (offscreen) example, where Michael Moore interviews a man (the brother of Oklahoma City bombing accomplice Terry Nichols) who sleeps with a gun next to his bedside. After going out of frame, Nichols points his pistol at his head as a joke. Moore, who knows about gun safety, is audibly shocked.
- RED, CIA agent Cooper gestures at a co-worker with his Hand Cannon while energetically explaining something to him. The rest of the film plays so fast and loose with More Dakka that gun safety is quickly forgotten, but this instance took place during a non-action scene and stands out somewhat.
- Terminator 2, when Arnold is strafing the police cars with the minigun. A pair of cops dive for cover, and one of them points his shotgun barrel in his friend's face, with his finger still on the trigger.
- McLintock!: McLintock's spoiled brat daughter demands her father shoot a gentleman caller, at which point McLintock promptly goes over to his gun cabinet, pulls out a gun and shoots him. The young man falls over convincingly and Becky begins freaking out, at which point McLintock says that if he's dead, he'll be the first man killed by a blank cartridge. Since this is a John Wayne Western with heavy doses of comedy made in The Sixties, no attention is paid to the fact that blanks are still dangerous, or why McLintock had a loaded gun (even if it's loaded with blanks) in his gun cabinet. Presumably they expected the audience to roll with it and move on.
- City Slickers 2: The Legend of Curly's Gold has a scene where Curly's brother, a sailor, checks to see if some gold bars are fake by scratching them with his gun barrel.
- Get Smart: Agent 99 is trying to show Max why he should listen to her:
Agent 99: Okay. Okay, you're faced with an assassin. What do you do?
Maxwell Smart: I take out my gun (does so) and I would shoot— (as he brings it around, 99 grabs it from his hand and points it at his head)
Agent 99: You don't have a gun.
Maxwell Smart: I did until you took it—
Agent 99: "Bang", you're dead!
Maxwell Smart: No, I'm not. (99 lowers it to his heart)
Agent 99: "Bang", you're dead.
Maxwell Smart: Stop shooting me.
Agent 99: You are dead. (starts aiming the gun at points all over Max's upper body) Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang bang.
Maxwell Smart: I don't like it when you shoot me! Stop it! Stop shooting me! You've already said I was (99 sticks Max's gun back into his pants) Hey.
Agent 99: Throw out your manual. Out here there are no grades. There's only "dead" and "not dead".
- 99 fortunately shows good discipline by not holding her finger on the trigger. Anne Hathaway ad-libbed the scene.
- In the Get Smart film The Nude Bomb, Max talks about how you can never be too careful with guns — then carelessly tucks his loaded and unsafed pistol into his belt, at which point the gun goes off. Fortunately, the bullet didn't hit anything.
- In Gran Torino, Thao picks up Walt's Garand without checking to see if it was loaded, points it at him, and has his finger on the trigger! Granted, this was made to show how inexperienced he was and why pursuing revenge would end up killing him. Another example comes from Walt's barber friend, who points his shotgun at Thao, finger on the trigger. Walt himself clearly knows how to safely handle guns, only leveling his weapon at a person or having his finger on the trigger when he was fully prepared to fire at them should things come to that.
- In The Seven Percent Solution, Sherlock Holmes is holding a revolver with his finger inside the trigger guard, talking in an animated fashion with Doctor Watson and Sigmund Freud — and gesturing with the pistol, waving it back and forth from one of them to the other. Holmes is canonically the sort to shoot holes in the walls of his own flat, his notion of proper gun safety was always in doubt.
- White Christmas begins with Bing Crosby singing to his fellow soldiers at an impromptu Christmas show somewhere in Europe in World War II. A GI who looks to be about 16 first puts his hand over the business end of his M1 Garand, then rests his chin on his hand.
- Curiously, this trope is invoked yet subtly averted in Bram Stoker's Dracula, where Lord Holmwood threatens Professor Van Helsing with revolver in grief-stricken rage when Lucy's body turns out to be missing from her coffin, but a careful viewer can see that he in fact isn't holding his fingers anywhere near the trigger. He may be mad with grief, but not murderously so.
- In Ravenous, Private Reich and Captain Boyd are investigating a cave that they believe is a mass murder scene. Reich is climbing down into a lower chamber, and Boyd is seriously nerved up. The following exchange takes place:
Reich: (looks up to see Boyd is pointing a rifle right at his head) Captain?
Boyd: (hastily points his gun away) Sorry.
Reich: Thank you.
- James Bond
- Averted in the Daniel Craig version of Casino Royale. When Bond gets his new pistol from the dashboard compartment of his new car, he immediately removes the magazine, opens and looks down the breech (rather than the muzzle) to make sure the barrel is clear, closes the breech, replaces the magazine and clicks on the safety. Plus, he doesn't chamber a round into the gun until much later, just before he expects to be using it.
- However, this is not violated in the Timothy Dalton movie Licence to Kill. At one point in the assembly of his camera/sniper rifle, Bond is seen pointing the barrel of the rifle, which he had personally loaded seconds before, at himself. Q should also get a mention for building a gun that is loaded during the assembly process rather than as a separate step after it's been put together.
- At the end of From Russia with Love, Tatiana shoots Rosa Klebb, when she tries to murder Bond with a blade hidden in a shoe. Afterwards, Bond sits down in relief and Tatiana massages Bond's shoulders, while still holding her pistol. To be fair, Bond spots this immediately and gently takes the gun away from her before stating "She's had her kicks."
- In Thunderball, Largo is shown pointing a skeet rifle at Bond's chest when he first visits Largo's home. Bond gently pushes the barrel aside. Given that Largo spends the whole movie trying to kill Bond, this was probably deliberate.
- In GoldenEye, Ouromov shoots Defence Minister Mishkin and a guard with Bond's gun. He then removes the clip and gives it back to Bond, without clearing the chamber. Bond could've easily shot Ouromov with the remaining bullet and killed him.
- True for the PPK that Bond usually carried, but certain weapons (notably the venerable Browning Hi Power) will not fire without a magazine inserted.
- In Marlowe, Philip Marlowe, at the scene of a murder, checks that a gun has been fired by putting the muzzle under his nose and smelling it. Yes, his finger isn't on the trigger, but he certainly should know better.
- One scene in The A-Team film seems to exist mostly to call out gun safety failures. A group of CIA agents grab Pike, a mercenary who betrayed them, handcuff him, and put him in the back of a car. Suddenly one of the agents in the back seat decides to shoot Pike there in the car, much to the surprise of their leader Lynch. However he's so inexperienced that Pike, in a rare Affably Evil moment, begins walking the agent through how to load and prepare his gun for use. Then the agent starts fiddling with a Hollywood Silencer, trying to put it on the wrong way, (and while the gun is pointing at himself) and insisting on calling it a silencer rather than a suppressor, despite Pike's attempts to correct him on the terminology. Then he lines up to shoot Pike in such a way that if his hand so much as twitches he'll be more likely to kill the agent on the other side of Pike instead. At that point Pike gets so exasperated that he takes the gun away from the agent, (he can do it because they handcuffed him wrong) states that "it would be embarrassing to get killed by that guy" and hands the gun over to the other agent in the hopes that the second agent will be more competent and allow him to die with some dignity. Amazingly, the other guy manages to top the first by answering his cell phone while he's holding the gun, and winds up holding the phone to one side of his face while pressing the loaded, ready to fire gun against the other side. At this point even Lynch, who is constantly criticized for being a desk jockey with little to no real world experience, looks seriously disturbed by the morons on his team. This is all going on in a moving vehicle too, adding to the likelihood of an I Just Shot Marvin in the Face moment.
Pike: You've handled a gun like that before? And you're still alive? That's amazing to me.
- Goodfellas provides good examples of the biggest mistake many criminals make handling firearms; to conceal small guns the gangsters stuff them into their waistbands and in one case a woman hides a snub-nosed revolver in her panties. Doing that might keep them hidden, but if they go off you might lose something very important.
- Goodfellas may be a crash course in what not to do. Granted, the characters are criminals and not professionals, so this blurs Artistic License Gun Safety with Reckless Gun Usage. It's impossible to tell from the film when the actors are making mistakes and when they're portraying their character's blatant disregard for gun safety.
- Tommy, Joe Pesci's iconic complete lunatic of a gangster, frequently violates the rules about not mixing firearms and alcohol and not pointing a weapon at anything you aren't meaning to hit. In a memorable sequence, he drunkenly waves a revolver around while comparing himself to a movie cowboy. He "flags" (unintentionally points the muzzle at) everyone else at his poker table. The other players are justifiably alarmed - then go right back to laughing. Tommy then shoots at Spider while imitating a stunt in a movie. He accidentally shoots Spider in the foot. It's arguable whether this counts as failing to never aim at anything you do not want to hit, since Tommy is just a monster.
- Near the end of the film, Ray Liotta's Henry Hill is waiting for his wife to get back from meeting one of his accomplices. Henry carries a semi-auto pistol. He runs out to escort his wife Karen from her car to the door. He holds the firearm in a very strange position, as if he were palming it, where the trigger might snag as he physically hauls Karen into the house. The muzzle rakes across Henry's chest so it might or might not enter and exit obliquely. Then the bullet would hit Karen straight in the side of the torso, cutting along from just under one armpit to exit out the other side of her chest. During that sequence, if the gun discharged, Karen's heart, aorta, both lungs, liver, stomach, and spleen were all right about at the right level to be hit.
- Henry is seen in the next scene holding Karen in bed. He has a drawn semi-auto pistol. His finger is in the trigger well.
- Early in the film, Henry gives Karen a bloody, loaded revolver to hide. Karen (presumably) has no experience with firearms at that point in the film. It's good practice to unload and clear a firearm before passing it to someone else. When passing it over, make sure it's open so the recipient can check to make sure it's not loaded. Granted, Henry was more concerned with having Karen hide the revolver, since he used it to pistol-whip a man who sexually assaulted her just a few minutes ago.
- A party guest in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil randomly starts waving a loaded gun around and laughing. Jim Williams suggests they move to a different conversation. John Kelso adds, "Yeah, one less likely to involve gunfire." Subverted later on when somebody actually does get shot and killed, but not because of this trope: Jim Williams appears to practice proper gun safety.
- In Captain America: The First Avenger, Carter decides to test the Vibranium shield by grabbing a handgun from a table, which is apparently loaded with the safety off, and instantly unloading a volley at the shield without warning.
- Raiders of the Lost Ark briefly has a Nazi machine-gunner try to kill Indy with it by firing in his general direction with it. Not only did he miss cleanly, the angle was such that he sprayed the cargo compartment of the truck in front of him (the mooks in the truck are shown hitting the deck to avoid the gunfire).
- Shutter Island has Eddie Daniels, a WWII veteran and FBI agent, disarm a guard near the lighthouse and then bash him with his own rifle. He uses this rifle to defend himself in the lighthouse—until he meets Dr. Cawley, head of the island's sanitarium, who assures him that the rifle isn't loaded. Eddie checks, and he's right. Angry, he sees his service pistol on the desk (which he had to surrender at the start of the movie) and makes a grab for it—then yells that he knows this one's loaded, as he can tell by the weight. Dr. Cawley tells him to go ahead and fire and Eddie does —then the gun comes apart in his hands, as it's a cap pistol. This is what causes Eddie to finally accept that he hadn't been an agent for years, not since he was confined to the island.
- The Fifth Element has Korben Dallas use this trope to his advantage. The scene: Korben is held at gunpoint by a thug. Korben then goes off saying the guy has the safety on and convinces him to turn it off. Turns out that Korben was lying and he just made the thug "turn off" the gun. Korben is quick to subdue the thug, take his gun and compliment his hat.
- A few minutes later he hands a loaded pistol with the safety off to Ruby Rhod, who clearly is terrified of it, and tells him to cover a prisoner. Ruby almost immediately kills said prisoner with an accidental discharge.
- 8 Mile brings us Cheddar Bob. He pulls out a gun during a fight between his friends and a rival group. Everyone IMMEDIATELY hits the deck since Bob is waving the gun around with his finger on the trigger. Eventually they convince him to put it away but he does so by putting it in his belt... at is crotch... with his finger on the trigger. Naturally, Reality Ensues and he accidently discharges the gun.
- One of the funniest sequences in This Is the End involves Jonah Hill waving around James Franco's gun from Flyboys to scare everyone in the room, jokingly pointing the gun at everyone (including himself) and pretending to shoot them as they freak out. Jonah is disappointed later when the gun doesn't actually work; contrary to James Franco saying the gun was "real", it turned out to be just a prop gun.
- Oz: The Great and Powerful demonstrates that you don't even need guns to qualify for this trope. In the climactic battle between the witches and the wizard, the witch's men throw spears at Oz. Since their target is just an image in a cloud of smoke, the spears go through and nearly kill the people on the other side of the courtyard.
- Push - at one point, to test a mook's resistance to having memories telepathically implanted (the Titular "Push"), the leader orders the mook to take his gun and fire it at himself, pushing a memory of having unloaded the gun into the Mook's mind. The mook, failing to treat the gun as always loaded, kills himself.
- In Under Siege, Ryback enters the USS Missouri with his gun immediately pointed in front of him.
- In Zombieland, Tallahassee grabs a shotgun out of the back of a truck and points it straight at Columbus as he lifts it. He then cocks it while the muzzle is in position to discharge right at Columbus. Later, he and Little Rock are firing at targets inside Bill Murray's house, where they could likely over-penetrate the walls easily and hit someone in another room. Additionally, no one should have let Little Rock, a twelve year old, handle a weapon without supervision once they had time to show her what to do.
- It may be this trope when Bill Murray decides to play a prank and scare someone with a gun while dressed as a zombie. The result is predictable. Whether or not Bill Murray was trained is a good question, but it's a flagrant violation of common sense to leap out at an armed individual dressed like a threat. He was high as a kite at the time, which would explain it somewhat.
- In The Other Guys, Gamble, a police detective, is forced to carry a wooden gun for much of the film after performing a "desk pop" - firing his service pistol into the ceiling in the middle of a crowded squad room. While Gamble himself may be clueless enough to qualify for Reckless Gun Usage, the two other detectives who bait him into firing should definitely have known better.note
- Cahill: US Marshall. John Wayne decides to catch forty winks in the back of a railroad carriage with a cocked shotgun pointing at the prisoners he has chained up, who complain that he might blow their heads off if he twitches.
Cahill: If you want to complain about the travel arrangements, you shouldn't rob banks.
- Sisters Of Death: If you can't tell the difference between a live round and a blank, you probably shouldn't be using guns in hazing rituals. You REALLY shouldn't fire said weapon at such close range, as even blanks can be lethal at such close distances.
- Spies Like Us, during the accelerated GLG20 training sequence, Col. Rhombus speaks to Milbarge and Fitzhume from a jeep with two armed Army cavalry, one of whom has his finger inside the trigger guard of his rifle. As he rides behind the Colonel.
- The Quick and the Dead: Ace Hanlon does a trick shot where he flips off his horse and fires underneath its belly, putting a bullet through the Ace of Spades held by a little girl.
Herod: "That's a neat trick. I heard you blew a kid's thumb off in Reno doing that."
- In Adopting Terror, the gun shop owner encourages Tim to "look down the barrel" of the pistol being sold.
- Total Recall: the security team that ambushes Quaid in the Martian reactor surround him in a circle and all start blazing away with fully automatic weapons and shotguns. Which is remarkably stupid, even before the subsequent reveal that it was just a hologram of Quaid and so they all should have killed one another anyway.
- What should have happened in the above-mentioned scene in Total Recall did happen in the Skyscraper fight scene in Ultraviolet. Violet takes down the entire gang that ambushes her, not touching them once and barely moving from from where she's standing by dodging the bullets that the idiots who are standing in a circle are shooting at her.
- Mirror Dance: Miles has amnesia, but when asked to reassemble a number of weapons from component parts, he does so without ever letting the guns point at a person, a big hint that he used to be a soldier.
- Black Light by Stephen Hunter Aversion: Even though they are pursued throughout the novel by gunmen, Bob Lee Swagger refuses to give his companion, Russ Pewtie, a gun. Because, as he explains, Pewtie is untrained, Swagger doesn't have time to train him and Swagger does not want to be around an untrained man with a gun.
- Starship Troopers. Averted: Rico is punished for a firearms safety protocol violation that doesn't result in anyone being hurt, and which he only does because he knows it can't possibly result in any harm in that particular case, since it is just a smoke bomb (playing the part of a nuke; had it been an actual nuke, one soldier would've been caught in the blast). He's flogged because he didn't follow the safety procedure. It's a partial inversion, as the punishment is designed to make the point to him that you always follow the rules, even when you're absolutely sure it would be safe not to. Lt. Robert Heinlein (ret.) knew a thing or two about weapons and the military.
- Played straight when the recruits are taught how to take cover while their instructors fire blanks at them with an occasional live round mixed in (it's stated that if their progress is unsatisfactory, the ratio of live rounds to blanks will rise). One of the recruits is actually shot in the rear; the recruits are told that the instructors would never intentionally aim at the head or heart.
- Taken to almost hilarious extremes in the Old Man's War 'verse. Colonial Union firearms technology has almost as much Applied Phlebotinum dedicated to making the gun safe for its owner as dangerous for the enemy. A prime example of the resulting justifiedly casual attitude is the incident in which a drill instructor demonstrates this by taking a recruit's gun, pointing it in the recruit's face, and pulling the trigger.
- Lampshaded in Diary of a Wimpy Kid. When Gregory joins the swim team, nobody told him that the referee's gun only fires blanks so he was more worried about where the bullet was going to land than actually trying to win the race.
- Subverted in The Queen's Thief. Eugenides is held in contempt by the Attolian soldiers for treating his wooden sword carelessly; like the Starship Troopers example, they believe that even a "non-dangerous" weapon should be treated with caution, so no mistakes are made later. Eugenides casually replies "In Eddis, we're taught to keep track of the weapon we have in our hands." He then snatches the sword out of the air with his bare hands and uses it to beat up the soldier trying to kill him. Further subverted when the other soldiers point out that he couldn't have done so with a real sword, and therefore he technically lost the duel. Eugenides reveals that he had, in fact, used the same move on an assassin earlier in the book.
- Star Wars Expanded Universe
- Defied by the Rebel Alliance. The New Essential Guide to Weapons and Technology mentions that Rebel soldiers were well known for practicing safe firearms usage, including modifying every blaster that came into their possession to have a safety if it didn't already.
- Verbally deconstructed in the novella Side Trip by Timothy Zahn and Michael A Stackpole, which features a customized weapon called a "hotshot". This is a blaster with the trigger guard cut off. Supposedly the idea is along the lines of Gangsta Style (looks cool but is a bad idea), but the narrator mentions that anyone who knows anything about gun safety can see why taking off the trigger guard is unbelievably stupid.
- Played straight in Han Solo's Revenge, with a scene where Han (who is an experienced gunman) deliberately removes the trigger guard from his weapon. Possibly averted in that he he was heading into a hazardous situation where he might need his pistol and would need environmental gear... but the glove of the environment suit was so thick that his finger would not fit inside the trigger guard.
- The Dragaera novels have Fantasy Gun Control, but Vlad still lampshades this trope when he watches a crowd of armed political protesters in Teckla, and notices one of them hugging another while holding a razor-sharp sickle. It was blind luck the man didn't cut his fellow-activist's throat.
- Played with in This Immortal (Roger Zelazny's novelization of his short story "And Call Me Conrad": The master assassin Hasan disassembles, cleans, and reassembles a rifle only for Conrad to notice that little by little it has been pointed right at his alien visitor, whom Conrad suspects Hasan has taken a contract to murder. Conrad can't prove Hasan did it on "accidentally on purpose".
- A running theme in REAMDE by Neal Stephenson. Many of the POV characters have gun handling experience, so whenever someone handles a gun in the story, which is often, we hear about whether they're using proper or improper gun safety.
- In War of the Rats, about the siege of Stalingrad, Vasily Zaitsev aims his (unloaded, but see Rule One) rifle at one of his new sniper students to prove some kind of point. The recruit leans away. Vasily follows him with the muzzle. Perhaps excusable in the situation, but any instructor, civil or military, who pulled a stunt like that now would be jumped on and beaten near to death for attempted murder, since you don't aim a firearm at anyone you don't intend to kill.
- In the Repairman Jack novel The Tomb, Jack hands a woman a firearm, telling her that since it's double action, it needs to be cocked before it will fire. In reality, double action means the opposite of this; the two actions are cocking and releasing the hammer, both accomplished by a single trigger pull.
- In the novel Hosts, Jack's arms-dealer friend Abe, shown to be very knowledgeable about all things weapons related, makes the same mistake.
- The Andy Griffith Show:Andy always makes Barney unload his pistol and only allows him one bullet which he keeps in his pocket. He routinely defies Andy and ends up shooting the gun into the floor or ceiling. Why Andy even lets him have the gun is anyone's guess.
- Picket Fences: Zachary Brock, bitter about his brother's injury in a school shooting, calmly retrieves his father's gun from its supposed place of concealment, pantomimes firing it at his brother's attacker, and then just as calmly returns the weapon to its place. Zack's father is the town sheriff, yet his means of securing his weapon barely even slow his son down. Oh, and did I mention that Zachary is about nine at the time?
- Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: There's a scene where the detectives are involved in a stand-off with a woman who has a gun pointed at her abusive ex-boyfriend. As such, the cops have their guns drawn and trained towards the woman. Perfectly reasonable during a hostage situation... except for that fact that Det. Benson steps directly into Det. Stabler's line of fire and stays there throughout the entire ordeal, while Stabler doesn't bother to adjust his aim even though he can clearly see that Benson is in the way.
- Another episode has an FBI agent who got raped joining in with the arrest of the perp and scaring him by shooting at the wall next to him. The bullet ricochets and (non-fatally) hits another detective. She does get in trouble for this (and for turning up to the arrest in the first place, since she'd been directly told not to come so she wouldn't be tempted to do something stupid,) and she fully accepts that she was completely in the wrong here.
- Law & Order was usually quite good about gun safety. One episode dealt with an autistic boy prone to self-injury. He was in the holding cell when he started hitting his head against the wall. Detective Logan quickly hands his revolver, butt first, to Detective Briscoe for safekeeping before opening the cell and restraining the boy. When the boy goes wild, Detective Briscoe puts his own gun on his desk, as does Detective Profaci. This was all incidental and in the background. Sometimes gun safety went right out the window, usually when a detective had had a really, really bad day—e.g. Det. Logan's partner was murdered and Logan puts the suspect on his knees with a gun to the back of his head. A confession followed.
- How I Met Your Mother: Robin is a gun enthusiast who routinely loses her guns, accidentally points a gun at another character while making vague threats, and apparently goes to the shooting range while blackout drunk (a good way to get banned for life at a real range). This is because it isn't how she actually acts; it's how an uber-liberal, previously established Unreliable Narrator (Ted) thinks she acts.
- Doctor Who:
- The episode "The Doctor's Daughter" has the Doctor hurling a loaded pistol, apparently with the safety off, in the direction of a crowd of people. He was pretty ticked off, as his clone-daughter had just been shot with it, but even though the Doctor Doesn't Like Guns, you think he'd know that throwing a loaded pistol around isn't a great idea.
- An earlier episode shows him sensibly freaked out by a girl casually tossing a (fake, but he didn't know that) gun around, which indicates that he should have known better.
- He is seriously considering shooting the person he points it at though, and it's something of an internal struggle to point the gun away.
- A character in "The Dalek Invasion of Earth" points a gun at his own head as he unloads a clip.
- The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.: While Brisco is tussling with a bad guy, the Girl of the Week wants to help, grabs a nearby pistol by the barrel and is about to hit the bad guy before Brisco stops her. He beats up the bad guy himself, then demonstrates that fact that if the woman had struck someone with the butt of the loaded, flintlock pistol, it would've gone off. Directly into her.
- Top Gear: the hosts travel to the North Pole, and Clarkson and May are given a shotgun in case they need to defend themselves from polar bears. At one point, though, James May earnestly looks down the barrel of the shotgun, and it is immediately taken away from him. In a Series 14 outtake, May defended himself, claiming it was the only way to see whether the barrel is unblocked, which is completely wrong. There is always a safe way to find out whether a barrel is blocked, like shining a light down the front and looking at the breech for the a reflection of light or looking down from the breech itself.
- MythBusters Averted all the time: although this is hardly surprising considering that the team never do anything without expert supervision and lots of health and safety, and indeed half the myths they test revolve around bad gun safety (loaded gun stored in an oven, an SW460 magnum revolver held with an incorrect grip, loaded rifles in the back seat of a car with loud bass, ammo on a campfire, etc.). Becomes a little incongruous when during the wrap-up they have little scripted sequences like Tory shoving a .44 magnum down the back of his jeans while walking away from the camera. It's clear that the gun is unloaded and made safe, but it still runs contrary to the show's usual very strong gun safety message.
- Dead Like Me: Roxxy, a new police officer and grim reaper, who pulls a gun in a crowded restaurant on her fellow grim reaper Mason. While she initially does so as a way to try to make Mason shut up, she holds it pointed straight at him. Now, grim reapers may be Immune to Bullets, but everyone else at the restaurant isn't, and apparently no one really cares that an officer is pointing a loaded firearm at another client of the restaurant. She then shoots Mason in the leg, which is not only insanely irresponsible, but only draws startled glances from the patrons. Roxxy's behavior is only excused by the Rule of Funny.
- Get Smart: the Gun Phone is by its very design impossible to use properly. Guess which bit of it the earpiece is.
Agent Smart: 99 I'm gonna have to hang up now. I may have to fire my phone.
- Mash: Major Frank Burns handles a pistol with his finger in the trigger well at all times and continuously points it at people. He also has minimal knowledge of the workings of the weapons he handles, not knowing whether the safety is on or off. Frank manages, over the course of 5 seasons, to shoot himself and BJ on screen, and apparently has enough other incidents that when a sniper takes a shot at Hawkeye and his date, Hawkeye initially assumes that Frank is just being careless with his target practice nearby.
- In one of the Valentine episodes, FBI agent Booth waves an unloaded machine gun at his partner. Yes, unloaded but this is still completely wrong. Bonus fun; this happens in the gun range.
- The show sometimes averts this, or at least shows the consequences of this trope. Another episode had Bones using a giant revolver that Booth notes is too big for her (she has very little experience with firearms), and uses it to shoot off a lock. The bullet bounces off and hits Booth in the leg.
- And another episode averts it by showing that when Booth comes home after work, he first unloads his sidearm, then locks gun and magazine up in a safe.
- The Wire
- During the famous Cluster F-Bomb investigation scene, McNulty wants to figure out the angle of a bullet entry and exit wound. So he takes out his loaded service weapon and points it at himself to simulate it. All perfectly in character.
- Any time Prez handles a weapon.
- Several Barksdale gangsters are shown behaving in this manner, showing their general level of (in)competence.
- Played for comedy in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia:
- In "Gun Fever," the gang buys a pistol. One scene after another demonstrates a laundry list of unsafe behaviors. In one scene, Mac waves the gun around while walking down an apartment hallway, finger on the trigger. He points it at Dennis and pretends to shoot him, then drops it on the floor and almost trips on it. In disgust, Dennis rips the gun out of Mac's hands while it's still pointed at him.
- A Running Gag has Frank always carrying a snub-nose revolver, which he whips out at the slightest provocation and points at people, fully cocked and with his finger on the trigger. The gang occasionally yank it out of his hand.
- The Walking Dead
- In the first season, Rick and Shane confront Daryl, and in the process Rick draws his pistol. Shane is standing exactly opposite of Daryl, so that if there was cause for Rick to fire, the bullet would go straight through the intended target's head and lobotomize Shane the hard way. Neither officer, who are supposed to be trained in Gun Safety, sees anything wrong with this (even worse, Shane was the firearms safety officer).
- The second season premier's ending demonstrates why you check what's behind what you're shooting at, with a hunter's rifle round going through the deer they were targeting and hitting Carl.
- Andrea seems to be the worst offender when it comes to gun safety. She goes off on Rick in a fit of rage and waves her gun in his face when they first meet, it takes her several episodes to figure out how to use the safety, and it only gets worse when she thinks she's able to be the lookout for the group. She fires her weapon at what she believes to be a walker it's actually an injured and delirious Daryl, even though she can't see through the scope clearly because the sun is blocking her view, she doesn't mount the gun on the railing of the RV for support, she shoots at the target knowing that gunfire attracts walkers, with three friendlies downrange who not only could have easily been hit, but are easily capable of taking care of one walker. She ends up grazing Daryl on the side of his head.
- On The Office (US) Dwight accidentally discharged a gun in the office. He is often portrayed as a Crazy-Prepared survivalist so he really should know basic gun safety. On the other hand Dwight might simply think he knows gun safety rather than actually having training. Almost assuredly the latter. In an earlier episode, Dwight was keeping an eye on Michael by watching him through the scope on a rifle. Even worse, it's not until after he makes a brief comment to the camera crew about it that he remembers to put the safety on.
Dwight: Don't worry, safety is...*checks* *turns on safety* on.
- Averted in The Greatest American Hero. Bill Maxwell is determinedly careful with his guns, or at least as much as possible when the circumstances permit. He never points his weapon at anyone he isn't willing to shoot (and he does this even when the person in question is his bulletproof partner, Ralph), keeps it on safe until he absolutely has to take it off safe, and when picking up or putting down a weapon always clears the weapon first.
In one particular episode, Maxwell needs "backup" to intimidate and arrest the bad guys so he hands Pam Davidson an M-16 that we have just watched Bill unload, clear, and double-check before it ever left his hands. And when she accidentally points this weapon... which he knows is unloaded because he, himself, cleared it... at Ralph (who Bill knows is a bulletproof superhero), Bill pushes the barrel away and then shows her how to hold and carry it without pointing at anyone.
- In Pawn Stars, quite a few of the customers have brought in a gun that turned out to be loaded (a couple of the muskets and at least once a Winchester), but averted for the Pawn guys, who always check to see if those guns are loaded before they start dealing. In the case of the Winchester, the "load" was an empty shell casing, but it illustrated that the owner didn't check and clear it. Also, later in that same episode Rick put the rifle down on its butt and looked down the barrel. Granted, he had cleared it himself moments earlier and he was very skittish about doing it, but he shouldn't have done that nonetheless.
- A second series episode of The A-Team features a sequence where Hannibal Smith attempts to help defend a young woman and her son against a prison escapee invading their home. Hannibal's way of telling the woman to lock the front door of the house is to gesture with his loaded shotgun in an enclosed environment, pointing it directly at her. Both the character Hannibal Smith and the actor that played him, George Peppard, are veterans of the U.S. armed forces.
- Falling Skies has people walking with rifles on their backs, safeties off. Sure, most of these people are civilian militia but there are certainly enough career military types and reservists around to catch this. Especially considering the alacrity with which professional NCOs and officers tend to react to offenders.
- Deliberately played for Values Dissonance in Mad Men. In the first season, Pete Campbell brings his new .22 rifle to the office, then jokingly points it at various people while pretending to shoot. Granted, the gun was brand new and had never been loaded, but there wasn't a safety rule he didn't violate. Apparently gun safety hadn't been invented in 1960. It may be less Values Dissonance and more Pete being foolish and likely completely inexperienced with guns.
- Tragically deconstructed on an episode of Quincy. The eponymous character spends the latter half of the episode trying to keep a confiscated revolver from reentering the hands of its rightful owner, who has two small children. As luck would have it, the owner proceeds to leave it lying, fully loaded, safety off (if it had one), on his bedroom closet floor. His son finds it, thinks its a toy gun, and shoots his sister. Gory Discretion Shot to credits.
- Burn Notice
- Michael Westen once while undercover: when racking the pistol given him by the Villain of the Week, Ruthless Modern Pirate Gerard, he inadvertently points it at the Villain, who shoves the barrel away from his face. But in this case it's an Invoked Trope: it's Michael's current cover ID that is unsafe with firearms ("Jackson" Doesn't Like Guns), not Michael himself.
- Burn Notice isn't entirely devoid of straight examples, unfortunately. When Michael gives Fiona a Soviet-issue Makarov pistol for her birthday, she points it in his direction. As prior examples point out, never do this regardless of whether the gun is loaded or not.
- In another example of this played blatantly straight, the end of the episode "The Hunter" has Sam and Fiona come to Micheal's rescue once again. Sam begins doing a number of very dangerous things. He begins waving his sidearm around, uses it to point out things, point at people including Micheal and has his finger in the trigger guard the whole while. Its especially egregious because Sam is supposed to be a Ex-Navy SEAL, who of all people should know better not to use a Glock like a laser pointer. Even worse, none of the other characters present note point this out.
- Discussed in an episode of The Pacific. Gunny Haney rips a lieutenant a new one on the firing range when the officer handles his sidearm in an unsafe manner. Captain Haldane, who was standing next to the officer in question, flatly tells the lieutenant being screamed at that Haney's right.
- Eugene Sledge, who wrote one of the books the series is based on, mentions two other episodes alongside this one. In one instance the Marine simply had the slug bounce off his helmet, but was teased mercilessly about it. In the other, one man accidentally killed his buddy when they were fooling around (the man pointed his M1 at himself and told his buddy to pull the trigger because it was unloaded), and it went horribly wrong. Even more stupid considering it was at the end of the Okinawa Campaign.
- In Band of Brothers, Captain Sobel is asked to leave six "dead guys" on the ground after he gets his platoon "killed" in an exercise. Sobel nominates the dead men by pointing his service pistol at them, with his finger on the trigger. Presumably, he knew the gun was unloaded, or that the safety was on, but this still breaks one of the cardinal rules of gun safety — namely, a gun is always loaded, especially when it isn't. Given the amount of Shown Their Work in the series, and that the other (competent) soldiers in Easy Company follow proper gun safety (such as it was back then), this is likely intentional, to further demonstrate that Sobel is unfit for command.
- Sobel's lack of trigger discipline is rather endemic in that episode. Pretty much any time he's shown during field exercises, he has his .45 in his hand and his finger on the trigger - especially if he's just shouted, "Hi-ho, Silver!"
- Later in the series, poor Hoobler, who accidentally shoots himself in the leg due to storing a Luger pistol in his pocket instead of a holster.
- Firefly: In "Objects In Space," River apparently finds a fully loaded gun with no safety lying on the floor of the cargo bay. There's a scene later where Mal and Jayne are arguing about this, the gun is Jayne's but he insists he doesn't leave his guns lying around. It's left ambiguous whether he was merely lying here to save face, or if River (perhaps subconsciously) broke into his quarters and stole it. Since most of the scene in question takes place from River's perspective it's unclear how much of what we saw was exactly what was happening.
- Averted, at least most of the time, on The X-Files. Mulder and Scully are shown following the appropriate rules for law enforcement (rules for soldiers are slightly different): Finger outside the trigger guard unless you want to actually fire the weapon, never point the weapon at anyone you do not want to shoot (even while searching with the gun ready, the gun is not pointed at a place where it should be possible for a person to be), never shoot at anyone you don't want to kill, never fire unless you know what you're firing at, and what you're firing into.
- Harm fires a loaded MP-5 during a trial in "Heroes". The key piece of evidence in the case was a submachine gun that allegedly failed to fire due to a malfunction. Harm proceeded to pick up the gun, which had evidently never been unloaded, and fired it into the ceiling. This did get him an epic ass-chewing, and the judge would continue to hold this against Harm for at least 7 more seasons.
- In another episode, a Marine Captain is being held prisoner by a street gang. The kid left guarding him is given a revolver by the gang leader. The Marine laughs and says that the only thing that gun would do is blow someone's hand off, because the barrel's plugged with dirt. When the kid looks, the Captain sarcastically snaps that looking down the barrel of a loaded gun is "real smart".
- In Wallander's "One Step Behind", Wallander is extra successful at gun safety: when a suspect is holding a girl hostage at gunpoint, he threatens him with an empty gun. Admittedly, he was still recovering from shooting a dangerous suspect dead, and although his superior had made a point that he carry a gun around, she hadn't mentioned bullets. Too bad the girl held hostage was his own daughter.
- Penn & Teller: Bullshit!: Averted in the episode on guns and gun control. When firing at a gun range, they are wearing ear protection. When not shooting their fingers are not on the trigger. This even extends to what is clearly a pink plastic prop gun. They don't even make note of it.
- As noted by StarDestroyer.net, it took Star Trek's Federation until the TNG movies to develop a phaser that has a trigger guard (i.e. the rifles introduced in Star Trek: First Contact). These are handheld weapons that have been seen to blow walls off of buildings and make humanoids disappear into thin air, and they're often built like remote controls with a large, totally exposed button to fire (and no sights). As the site says, one should pity the Federation soldier who tries to catch one.
- A major example in the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "Sleeping Dogs." Reed decides to train Hoshi with the new phase pistols, and has target practice held in the armory (where the ship's high-yield torpedoes are stored). At least on TNG, they had a separate practice range. At the end of the lesson, Hoshi points the phase pistol at Reed's chest while handing it back to him. To make it worse, Reed is a Military Brat; he should have plenty of experience in handling weapons and gun safety.
- Mocked outright by SF Debris in his review of the DS9 episode Empok Nor. An engineer is trying to salvage supplies and calmly asks the experienced Starfleet security officer if she wouldn't mind pointing her phaser rifle somewhere else. She smugly replies that the safety is on. Chuck proceeds to rip her stupidity a new one by pointing out her blatant violations of the first and third rules of gun safety. Never point a gun at anything you don't intend to destroy and never rely solely on the safety mechanism. Rules which are strictly followed by organizations such as the NRA and NSSF.
- An episode of Only Fools and Horses had Rodney's posh girlfriend take him clay pigeon shooting on her father's estate. On his first turn, Rodney stepped up to the shooting area then turned round to speak to the others, inadvertently pointing his shotgun at them. The others yelled at him to lower the barrel but because he was wearing ear protectors he couldn't hear them. Not until the girlfriend's father stepped forward and pushed the gun barrel down towards the ground did Rodney realise what he had done.
- In Sherlock, Holmes once summons the police by stepping outside (in a populated area) and casually firing a couple of pistol rounds into the sky. As mentioned under Literature, Holmes is canonically not exactly fussy about firearm safety.
- On another occasion he waves the thing round for emphasis, before SCRATCHING HIS HEAD WITH IT. Bear in mind the gun is loaded, no safety, and cocked, with his finger still on the trigger. Granted, he is having a bit of an emotional meltdown at the time, what with his only real friend at that time being wired with explosives and all.
- Sons of Anarchy has former US Marshal Lee Toric. In addition to being a former US Marshal, he is ex-Special Forces, and really should have a basic awareness of trigger discipline. None of this stops him from gut-shooting a woman who tapped him on the shoulder while he was holding a gun. Toric is a heroin addict and his drug use has made him extremely reckless and dangerous.
- To get the police out of the vehicle carrying the arrested robbers so they can get Catherine released in "Aloha kekahi i kekahi", the fourth-season premiere of Hawaii Five-0, Steve fires into the air twice, something a Navy SEAL should surely know is dangerous and reckless regardless of the situation.
- An early episode of "Blue Bloods" has Frank use a "Fitz special". This is a snubnose revolver with the trigger guard partly cut away - a fairly popular (allegedly speed-enhancing) modification decades ago when all cops carried revolvers. There's nothing to stop fingers and other objects from touching the trigger, it's easy to impale your finger on the cut end of the guard, and the remnant of the guard could get bent so as to lock the trigger in place, making the gun useless when needed. NOT recommended, and surprising to see in the hands of an experienced shooter like Tom Selleck. In-universe, it's explained as sentimentalism: that gun was used by Henry's father, then passed to Henry, to then gave it to Frank, who likes carrying his dad's gun (despite Henry's advice that he really should use a Glock instead).
- In The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Napoleon Solo (as played by Robert Vaughn) routinely waved his gun around casually with his finger on the trigger, pointed the barrel at friends and allies to gesture at them, and so forth. When "firing" the gun, Vaughn shook his wrist as if he were tossing the bullets in the general direction of the target. It was painfully obvious that he had no idea how to handle a firearm. Similarly, in one episode where he had to grasp an unsheathed broadsword, he gripped the blade firmly in one hand, not even bothering to pretend it was sharp.
- Lampshaded in the Intelligence episode "Being Human". Gabriel needs a gun to deal with an assassin, and his mother digs this enormous .45 revolver out of the top drawer of her dresser. Gabriel is horrified. (Falls here instead of Reckless Gun Usage because Mom was in the Army, albeit a combat nurse.)
Gabriel: You keep this in your dresser? Loaded?
- Castle is a repeat and egregious offender. For one of the best cops in the NYPD, Beckett's sure got a problem with letting suspects and other miscellaneous madmen take her gun. Considering that police training takes avoidance of this scenario to an extreme (at least in the United States), it's a glaring plot hole that a competent homicide detective would lose her gun once, let alone the half-dozen or more times as of Season 6.
- Played for laughs in the Stargate SG-1 episode "Avalon" when Teal'c who, as a member of SG 1 for eight years really should know better, fires his P-90 at the wall of the room where he and Colonel Mitchell are trapped. Mitchell freaks out, exclaiming "Whoa! Bullets BOUNCE!"
- Real Humans: While searching for Mimi, Max comes upon a gun and carries it to Leo, asking "What should I do with this?" - pointing it straight at him. Subverted in that Leo knows exactly that Max is only doing that because that's the only way he's ever seen a gun carried, and has no intention of harming him; so he casually replies, "Put it here."
- TOTP footage for "GoldenEye": the male models surrounding Tina Turner have their fingers within the trigger guards on their PPKs while Tina performs. Even though none of them intend to fire.
- A number of first-person shooters play this one straight as an arrow, showing the gun being held with a finger on the trigger and twitching. This may be justified since the character has to fire the gun instantly. If the character's finger was off the trigger, there would either be a delay in the firing animation or it would look weird.
- However, many modern FPS games will cause the character to lower their weapon, or be otherwise unable to fire if aimed at a friendly NPC, or while in an area with no enemies. Some games even will have the NPCs act annoyed at you if you hold a weapon in their faces.
- Due to Artificial Stupidity, allied NPCs can and will walk directly across the player's line of fire while you're trying to shoot enemies. Or worse yet, try to shoot enemies while your character's head is directly in the way.
- You'll sometimes see the player character holding a big gun in one hand. This is getting better and sometimes when it looks like they're holding it in one hand, they're actually not.
- Metal Gear
- Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater averted: where Naked Snake, in all of his cutscenes, place his finger outside the trigger guard. You don't want to accidentally shoot blindly when you are on a sneaking mission. It appears that Solid "Old" Snake does this in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots as well. During an early cutscene, you can see Snake turn on his rifle's safety before putting it down to inspect another gun, which he does sensibly, even pointing it straight at a wall when testing the trigger pull.
- Ocelot plays it straight, juggling and spinning the Single Action Army with all six chambers loaded. The gun is so notorious for accidental hammer drops that most gunfighters would only load it with five rounds.
- The problem with accidental hammer drops has been mostly eliminated in modern reproductions and replicas (and I only say mostly because you can never be absolutely sure), with the real reason most only load five rounds being out of tradition. However, his ridiculous gun-twirling and other actions should still have killed him long ago.
- Metal Gear Solid 4 has an odd inversion of the trope, in fact; during the beginning of the third chapter where Snake is searching for a resistance cell that has possession of Big Boss's body, he gets stopped by some guards and is told to come with them. He refuses, and they aim their rifles at him, obviously about to shoot... except if you look closely, though, NONE of the soldiers' fingers are on their triggers. Justified, however, in that they're expecting Snake to show up, but the fact that he's entered with a hostile gesture and looks seventy makes them initially unsure of his identity.
- Old Snake also uses the battlefield rule of guns in an early cutscene where he picks up a rifle near a dead soldier — namely, "never trust an abandoned weapon." He very, very, VERY carefully checks under the rifle with his knife for booby traps before claiming it as his own.
- Snake calls out Akiba on his lack of combat experience, noting that even though he shows every intention of shooting Snake right then and there, he hasn't even taken the safety off on his rifle. However, Not with the Safety on, You Won't is artistic license; as that trope notes, the safety on most firearms can be removed in a heartbeat. Johnny apparently never learned this, despite having managed to get a special forces assignment, as he cranes his head to double check, allowing himself to be disarmed. How he got the posting, we'll never know.
- Metal Gear Solid 2 also averted this, up to averting the "gun pointed entry" trope by having armed personnel enter rooms with their guns at a lower angle, searching the room with their eyes. A "Making Of" featurette on Document of Metal Gear Solid 2 has military advisor Motosada Mori demonstrate the original cliche to the development and motion capture team who would undergo a mock-combat situation to provide realistic animation for the enemy soldiers. After showing off how the old cliche worked, Mori advised the team not to do that.
- Knights of the Old Republic: Several of your party members can be armed with blasters. These same party members have scripted hand gestures that they make while talking. They make these gestures regardless of what weapons they are holding. This can be especially unnerving when Carth Onasi is snapping at you about how he isn't sure he can fully trust you... while waving a heavy blaster pistol in each hand. The same gestures frequently cause melee fighters to impale themselves or others to make a point. At least Jedi will be waving around inactive lightsabers...
- In BioShock, the main character reloads his Webley .455 by putting rounds in, then putting the cylinder back in place by flicking his wrist. This may look cool, but there is a very high chance it will misalign the cylinder.
- Similarly, Borderlands does this with Revolvers. A flick to open the breach or flip out the cylinder, a flick to close it back. Note that trying to flick a breach-break revolver closed is asking for disaster, assuming the gun will fire if poorly latched.
- Mass Effect
- While characters usually put their guns away during cutscenes, some don't, which can lead to situations like a security guard waving a sniper rifle at you one-handed while he's telling you what a good job you did.
- Shepard him/herself often waves his/her weapon around in a way that would be outrageously irresponsible for a military or law enforcement agent of any kind. The Renegade option for Conrad alone may seem awesome, but if Shepard weren't above the law, he/she would be facing a courtmartial faster than you can say, "Immensely profitable trilogy." It gets worse in the next game, where you can simply shoot him in the foot.
- Even a Paragon option where you allow Conrad to take your picture will cause Shepard to pose by triumphantly aiming his/her gun — Directly into a nearby crowd.
- In the first game's "Bring Down the Sky" DLC, a panicky civilian fires his pistol at Shepard without pausing to verify whether or not s/he's actually the batarian slaver he thinks s/he is. The round hits Shepard squarely in the chest - fortunately to no effect, thanks to the kinetic barriers on Shepard's armor.
- In the Citadel in Mass Effect 2, Shepard can overhear this conversation where the gunnery chief chews out a couple of recruits for unsafe gun handling practices (they've essentially forgotten the "know what's behind your target" rule). The "gun" they're firing is the main cannon of a dreadnought, whose projectiles hit with the kinetic energy of a nuke, so hitting the wrong target can have... consequences. Particularly because as a weapon fired into a no atmosphere, low gravity space, what's "behind" the target is defined as "Literally everything in the potentially infinite realm of space in any conceivable cone of fire in the direction of the intended target.
- The actual gun safety required in universe may be a little more lax than in real life, considering that all of the weapons require advanced inbuilt computers and a power cell in order to function, and there furthermore is no "ammo," only a chunk of metal that gets cut to make bullets. The guns are still dangerous, but flipping the safety off makes it a lot safer than a real life firearm with the safety on. A real life firearm can fire, safety on, due to mechanical error, a mass effect firearm can only fire, safety on, if you hotwire it or something equally implausible.
- The second game did slightly better than the first, in that you could no longer draw weapons outside of combat areas. In the first, you were quite free to pull out your assault rifles and shoot up any part of the Citadel you like—including the high-security center of galactic government!—without anyone so much as batting an eye. You just can't actually harm any civilians by shooting them.
- Interestingly averted somewhat at one point—when you first meet Garrus, he takes down a thug holding a doctor hostage with a single shot. Shepard can either congratulate him on the shot or berate him for taking the very dangerous risk of shooting at someone when there's an innocent victim only a few inches away. (Mass effect weapons have built-in targeting computers and likely "smart" ammunition as well, plus Garrus' visor acts also helps his aim. Still, it's a very serious risk.)
- A lot of the NPC, especially those belonging to merc or criminal gangs have poor gun safety. Possibly justified in that they are criminals and unlikely to follow good practice. Another particulary egregious example is of Jonn Whitson, who wants to sign up for the mission to kill Archangel, who takes his piece out and starts waving it around. Justified, given that he obviously has no combat experience.
- Subverted in Vanquish. If Sam aims his gun at an allied NPC, he will yell something along the lines of "Get out of the way", and the NPC will duck out of his aim.
- Deus Ex Lampshaded: where gun safety leaflets can be picked up and read. Averted otherwise, as JC always holsters any weapons when initiating dialog. Even if he's caught flat-footed by someone he may rather keep his gun on. In certain areas, some civilians will panic if you have your gun out when you attempt to talk to them, forcing you to holster your weapon beforehand. In other areas, though, the trope is played straight unless you initiate dialog with other characters.
- Played painfully straight with its prequel, Deus Ex: Human Revolution. One of the enemy idle animations is the Mook in question scraping something off the sole of his shoe with the barrel of his gun.
- Adam on the other hand tends to be better about this. For one (unwillingly) HEAVILY augmented man who could pretty much dual-wield without consequence, Adam handles a guns like you should (handling a rifle with two hands, holding a pistol firmly with one hand on the grip while the other braces it) and when switching to/pulling out a pistol he pulls the slide to check for a chambered bullet before firing. Justified in that he's ex-SWAT and it's the players fault for not following proper gun safety.
- Persona 3: Takaya likes to use his jeans (or at least his belt) as a makeshift holster for his revolver. How he hasn't managed to blow his crotch or foot off yet is a miracle.◊ Even then this is better then most versions of Pants Positive Safety since the barrel is pointed AWAY from his body, but still not nearly as safe as a holster.
- GoldenEye: The guards have an animation in which they would wave a hand as if to shoo away a fly, and then threaten the offending insect with their assault rifles. (Even worse, they do the same thing while the cheat code that gives them all rocket launchers is active...). Similar nonsense can happen with James Bond as well, as various tweaks to the game can affect which gun shows up in level-ending cutscenes. Putting a bazooka down his pants is entirely possible.
- Silent Hill
- An unintentionally funny scene in the first game, in which police officer Cybil Bennett confirms that the hero she's just met, a professional writer, has never handled a gun in his life, and so proceeds to hand him her spare gun for protection. The entirety of her instructions are "Know what you're shooting, and don't go blasting me by mistake." (Foreshadowing!)) A little justified in that they're in a Survival Horror environment (and used as a game mechanic, as, due to Harry's inexperience, the player can't accurately aim at long range), though you have to wonder why, as a police officer sworn to protect and serve, she didn't just accompany Harry instead of giving him a gun and sending him on his merry way.
- Later on, there's an even more hilarious scene at the local hospital. Harry comes upon Dr. Kaufmann, in an examination room, sitting down in shock next to a corpse of a monster he just shot. Harry carefully comes to introduce himself, and Kaufmann responds by immediately pointing the gun at Harry's face. He pleads with an appropriate, "Don't shoot! I'm a human!" Kaufmann digests this information for a second, and accidentally shoots anyway (missing, but still). He then says a casual-as-if-nothing-had-happened, "Thank God. Another human being."
Given the ambiguous nature of Silent Hill, it could be Fridge Brilliance; if any of the events were only in Harry's mind, pulled from Harry's imagination by the town, or part of a Dying Dream, then Harry wouldn't have known gun safety. Since he's making it up, he imagines Cybil giving him "real" advice. The advice wouldn't hold up if Harry knew anything about firearms, but he doesn't, so he fills in the blanks as best as he can with his imagination. So either Cybil is incompetent or Harry came up with it himself.
- Resident Evil: Early games have this in droves, though the most recent examples (Degeneration and Resident Evil 5) have an almost obsessive focus on gun safety in the cutscenes. In-game, however, the characters do run with their guns down and safe, until you hold the button which readies them.
- Battlefield Heroes: the National Army Soldier class characters inspecting their submachine guns should they be using it when you do not perform any abilities, move, or move the crosshair for a bit. By looking into the barrel. In the middle of a battle. While ammunition is loaded into it. Since if you fire while they are doing this and they will go back into a normal firing stance and fire, it can be assumed there is no safety on (or there possibly isn't one — Battlefield Heroes' setting is a silly WW2 one). This can also happen should you be in, but not driving, a moving vehicle, which is even more dangerous. But since the game is based around the Rule of Fun, it can be assumed it was used for a joke, as such an action is clearly dangerous and stupid. Not to mention scratching your ear with a pistol!
- Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Lampshaded: When the player points a gun at any member of his squad, the player character diverts the gun away from them. Again, in all other situations, you're free to point weapons and fire at them when you so choose.
- Empire: Total War: features the use of a Gentlemen agent which can steal technology or duel other gentlemen of rival factions. If ordered to duel another gentlemen a cinematic scene plays which shows many different outcomes. One of these outcomes has the two duelists march a few paces turn but not fire. Hilariously, one of them looks down the barrel of the gun then the gun promptly discharges in his face. He loses the duel by the way.
- Grand Theft Auto
- Grand Theft Auto IV: Niko is pretty careless for an ex-soldier. Leave him standing around holding a pistol, and he'll eventually scratch the back of his head with it with his finger on the trigger.
- Which is about as stupid as the briefing scene from the Grand Theft Auto: Vice City mission "Supply and Demand" where Ricardo Diaz scratches his nuts with a pistol, complete with finger on trigger. In previous scene, the intro to "The Fastest Boat," he waves a shotgun around, and accidentally points it in the PC's face. It doesn't go off, though Tommy does seem rather concerned.
- In GTA IV, you can even do this through a Good Bad Bug. Walk into a bar with a gun in your hand with a friend, and come out drunk with a loaded weapon you can fire. Humorously enough, firing your weapon randomly while shitfaced will not only risk shooting yourself or your drinking buddy, but also bring down a swam of civilian NPC's to beat a lesson on gun safety into you.
- Averted completely in the Operation Flashpoint and ARMA series by Bohemia Interactive. Characters move their fingers out of the trigger guard on a weapon when they lower it. For primary weapons, at least; there's no way to lower a pistol or ordnance launcher without putting them away, except in Arma 3 where the pistol can be lowered just like a primary weapon.
- Call of Duty
- Call of Duty 2 Big Red One, averted: When one private points his rifle at someone, the CO yells at him.
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Sometimes averted: When reloading every gun in the game (most obviously on the FAMAS) the player character takes their finger out of the trigger to avoid discharging the weapon. However most all other gun safety rules get tossed out the window, simply looking at a friend requires you to point your loaded gun directly at them with your finger on the trigger, although the game will not allow you to fire in single player. Multiplayer? Fire away!
- Final Fantasy Tactics: When showing off his gun in a cutscene, Mustadio very clearly points it at Ramza. And if the player acquires a robot weapon of mass destruction, Ramza orders it to beat Mustadio up, only to frantically demand someone bring a Phoenix Down when the robot blasted Mustadio to the floor, though this would be a case of Ramza not knowing just how lethal the damn thing is.
- Fallout series:
- Many characters will refuse to talk to you or will even try and kill you if you refuse to put your weapon away in their presence. It's also perfectly possible for your trigger-happy teammates to accidentally blow you to pieces in combat, especially if they're using burst weapons. This was epidemic in the first Fallout, most of your total deaths would be from a friendly AI getting a burst crit 'through' you onto a nearby mob. Fallout 2 permitted you to more carefully micromanage your teammates' combat settings, with an option that only determined the use of burst-fire and included the options "be absolutely certain you won't hit me" and "never use". It's possible they sell the gun and throw in the ammo for free. Flimsy, but the Fallout universe isn't exactly the one most rooted in reason.
- A welcome aversion is seen in Fallout: New Vegas: The weapon animations exhibit proper trigger discipline, keeping the finger resting on the trigger guard when not aiming down sights or firing. Also the Boomer tribe are a community of Mad Bombers but follow major weapon safety to the letter. Presumably because a misfire anywhere near a weapons/ammo cache would be very bad indeed.
- In the New Vegas DLC Honest Hearts, Joshua Graham looks down the barrels of his pistols as he inspects them, but not before ejecting the magazine and pulling back the slide.
- NPC's in New Vegas will also make remarks whenever you aim a loaded gun with them, telling you what you are doing isn't smart or acting horrified/incredulous. Except for children, who will say things like "Cool, I can see the bullet!" Not that you can harm them, anyway.
- Red Dead Redemption: You get the FN Model 1903 (called High Power Pistol in the game) when Ross presents it barrel-front to John's stomach. He wants him dead anyway, and he's an asshole.
- Heavy Rain: If Ethan gets arrested and Jayden intervenes while Blake is vigorously interrogating him, Blake will pull out his gun and point it at Jayden with his finger on the trigger. Which just further drives the point home that Blake is more than a bit reckless, to say the least.
- The Oregon Trail: You can be randomly killed by an accidental gunshot while hunting. Even a gun sheath/holster won't protect you from this.
- In the sequels, you can even be killed randomly by a negligent discharge from someone cleaning their weapon.
- Stalker: Most characters will tell you to holster your weapon and won't talk with you if you don't obey. Some characters may even attack.
- Halo: Reach: Humorously, one of these supposedly hardened and professional marines in this advertising clip points his automatic weapon at his fellow soldier's groin! Here at 0:50.
- The Elder Scrolls
- In Morrowind and Oblivion holding a weapon while talking to someone will cause them to like you less. This actually is a bit better than games wherein people don't seem to mind that you're holding a weapon in their face.
- Allies exhibit a similar level of Artificial Stupidity as in the FPS example at the top of the section. To the point where in the Battle of Bruma sequence in Oblivion, where you have dozens of NPC soldiers running around, the greatest danger to them on lower difficulty levels is the Player Character.
- In Oblivion and Skyrim, the first two games to feature scabbards, several weapons appear to be simply stuck through your belt rather than put into a scabbard for safety.
- When wielding a bow in Skyrim, you hold the trigger down to nock an arrow and draw the bowstring, then release it to fire. Aiming a drawn bow with a nocked arrow at someone averts this trope, as it tends to prompt nervous comments like "You're not actually going to shoot, right?"
- Approaching a guard with your weapon/magic drawn will provoke a rebuke: "Guard might get nervous, a man approaches with his weapon drawn", "Watch the magic!", or something similar.
- Scarface: The World is Yours. Unlike most sandbox games the player cannot massacre innocent civillians for the giggles. Tony's entire character revolves around not hurting anyone who never gave him trouble. The gun simply will not fire if the player pulls any silliness.
- Team Fortress 2: The Scout reloads his pistol by flipping it around while removing the spent magazine, then flipping it back while slipping a new mag in. He does this by pivoting it around his trigger finger (which is still in the trigger guard) and points it directly at himself when it's flipped around. Plus the common practice of shooting your teammates to check if they're really disguised Spies. On the Scout's case though its a part of his character to be a cocky showoff. Doing dangerous stuff just because it makes him look cool is what he lives for.
- Arc the Lad: Twilight of the Spirits, averted. Tatjana attacks with a gun, but you see her pointing it down and away from her feet whenever she's not firing it or has it holstered. She does hold it up whenever she uses it to perform special attacks and probably has safety on anyways, since she doesn't immediately hold it up and fire. Not to mention, the enemies who attack with guns primarily have them pointed at you and if they use guns for a special attack are shown loading them.
- Police Quest: You can be deafened if you don't put on sound-dampening earmuffs. It's stated in-game that the guns are NOT a toy and you have to follow safety procedures with guns. The Police Quest series is all about following correct police procedure. If you click your gun on a suspect, you'll shoot them and get a Game Over where you're chewed out for being trigger-happy. The proper procedure is to use the gun on yourself (to equip it) and then talk to the suspect, which will make your character order them to stand down.
- Blue Force: you can shoot yourself in the face if you clean your gun and fail to make sure it's unloaded first.
- League of Legends: Zig-Zagged.
- Caitlyn is shown with her rifle held over her shoulder. Presumably, whenever she does this it's not loaded or she has safety off. However, she takes a rifle and holds it in one hand while using one of her special attacks. In real life, this is asking for a sprained or broken wrist.
- Miss Fortune uses Guns Akimbo, but whenever she runs, she quickly holsters them.
- Tristana likewise always keeps her BFG pointed away from her. You can have them pointed at their allies albeit unintentionally.
- Gangplank however has a pistol in hand and has it perpetually pointed up unless he brings it down to fire or use Parrrley. He does this to signal his ship to fire on a target location with his ult, and ironically even used to shoot his own men.
- Jinx Handles her variety of high-powered ordinance with frightening recklessness. Of course, she's bugfuck nuts, so it's appropriate.
- Galaxy Angel During your first meeting with Forte Stollen, she is seen demonstrating her skills with a Revolver in the Elle Ciel shooting range. After, presumably, firing every bullet in the chamber she turns around and playfully aims the gun at Tact's face, whom naturally reacts with fear. It's quite jarring, seeing as she is, otherwise, responsible with the handling of firearms.
- Red Steel 2 averted, the sword and gun Wii game. The Kusigari kid justifiably keeps his finger on the trigger due to the absence of any civilians and the immense presence of bandits, ninja, and other enemies. He keeps his hand over his revolver to keep it steady, has his finger off the trigger when reloading while pointing it down (same with the shotgun, rifle, and machinegun) and to be honest, the only fancy thing he does with his gun is twirl it when he holsters it.
- Conduit 2. Weapons range from pistols to beam cannons and bio-mass alien weaponry. During idle animations, Ford will inspect his weapon...with one of the "living" Drudge weapons, he actually sticks his finger near the barrel as if to poke it, and the weapon snaps at him.
- In Gears of War 3, the loading screen and cover has Marcus resting his hands on the muzzle of his lancer rifle.
- When a World of Warcraft character holds a gun but isn't firing it, they hold it level with the ground, pointing forward, by gripping the heel and trigger.
- In Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3, a live action cut scene shows elite Soviet commando Natasha standing beside her premier. Her finger is firmly on the trigger of her sizable sniper rifle. While it is pointed away from anyone visible in the room, a weapon of such penetration could easily take out someone a building away.
- Granado Espada's Lionel Von Hanen, an elite officer who is supposed to be a master of military science, wields a rifle and a pistol simultaneously — one for each hand — as his signature shooting stance.
- Deadpool has its titular character splayed on a chair in his apartment holding two pistols, occasionally scratching his groin with a gun's barrel. Justified due to both Deadpool's super healing powers and general insanity.
- Stryker in Mortal Kombat. He fires his weapon into the air in one of his victory poses. And this guy is actually a police officer.
- Averted in XCOM: Enemy Unknown in the case of a gun-pointed entry. When storming into a room they kicked open, your team will have their guns pointed downward.
- Mostly averted thanks to a glitch in the game engine in Red vs. Blue, a Halo machinima. To keep the characters from looking like they were pointing guns around while talking to one another, the creators were able to exploit a glitch in the first game in which a character would be looking down but would appear to be looking straight ahead, making it appear they lowered their weapon. (In subsequent games, Bungie actually deliberately put this functionality in for the use of machinima makers.) Despite that, everyone still carries around multiple weapons and fire them off for little to no reason on occasion. Perhaps the most egregious example is Tex using Caboose as target practice in her first appearance (shooting ''around'' him, not at him). Although she's a highly trained fighter and an excellent shot (as well as an A.I., so she theoretically should have perfect aim... if we ignore the example of Church) and she's only a few feet away from him, it's still an insanely dangerous thing to do. Granted, at that point in time Tex is mildly crazy thanks to the other A.I. in her head. Considering who we're talking about, it may not have been O'Malley's fault, but rather just her.
- Schlock Mercenary
- Averted. The Captain is so confident in the gun safety skills of his crew, many of their weapons don't have safeties (except for certain heavy weapons issued to certain Trigger Happy crewmembers). Played straight in this strip along with Gangsta Style. The next strip makes it clear that he knew how stupid he was being and just didn't care.
- Then there's this strip with the local police trying to arrest Elf. Which rule was "know what's behind your target" again? (However, this is a deliberate set up by the author.)
- Also appears in this strip where a cop points out that Schlock's outdated plasma cannon is so obscenely dangerous that firing it at all goes against gun safety and common sense.
- On one occasion Schlock looks down the barrel of his 'too dangerous to handle at all' plasma cannon so closely that his eye gets stuck.
- Tales of Zenith 5: the manager of the homeless shelter, disarms a woman who pulled a rifle, and sets it on the counter, noting that she should have known better, the Remington 20 has a well-known habit of accidental discharge. At this point it goes off, shooting the front-desk clerk in the gut. One of the inmates yells out "You just shot Marvin in the face!" 5 breaks the fourth wall by pointing out that they're not parodying Pulp Fiction in this cartoon in the strip, and besides, he shot him in the stomach.
- Girl Genius
- Agatha puts her eye under Gil's lightning generator, as he repeatedly presses the trigger mechanism while commenting that it takes too long to recharge. Apparently a lot of new Sparks die in lab accidents, although often of the No! I am your creator! variety.
- Later on: Tarvek, what the hell are you doing with that Kalashnikov-trumpet-thingy?
- The Dreadful: Someone shows up at Kit's door and starts threatening and talking down to her, while flipping his revolver around like Revolver Ocelot. Unfortunately for him, Kit is good enough a shot to hit the hammer of the revolver in midair, while it's pointing at his head.
- El Goonish Shive: Averted, Dan specifically researched shotgun safety before creating this strip.
- Gone with the Blastwave is especially jarring about this considering that all characters are soldiers... Life-threateningly incompetent, homicidally psychotic, suicidally depressed and/or just plain apathetic Comically Sociopathic Soldiers, sure, but soldiers none the less.
- Whateley Universe Frequently averted: The Range staff are very, very hot on gun safety, understandably given that they work at a school. A couple of the writers appear to be gun enthusiasts and/or soldiers of one stripe or another. Big deals are made in-universe of the times when people don't follow the rules.
- Cracked.com has an article deconstructing this trope, as used in Hollywood.
- Averted in The Journal Entries. One story even has a rather lengthy lesson on gun safety (for a character from Earth, where there aren't supposed to be any guns).