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Reckless Gun Usage
"Ohhh, so THIS is the end that flaming death comes out of..."

There are some basic rules for safely using guns. Unfortunately, not everyone knows what they are since many people are not used to firearms.

This trope is when somebody unfamiliar with firearms does something reckless with guns that endangers others. Whether it's some schmuck in the middle of a Zombie Apocalypse or a bank robber, screwing up is still dangerous. When somebody who should know proper gun safety, such as soldiers or police, uses guns recklessly, that's Artistic License - Gun Safety.

If somebody gets shot because guns are used recklessly and it's played seriously, that's I Just Shot Marvin in the Face. If safety is ignored or somebody gets shot for laughs, that's Juggling Loaded Guns. If a gun goes off randomly despite observance of Gun Safety, that's Reliably Unreliable Guns. See also Remonstrating With A Gun. Gun Twirling and Pants Positive Safety are almost always this trope when they aren't Artistic License - Gun Safety. The ubiquity of Stray Shots Strike Nothing also contributes to this.

Perhaps realizing the high number of occasions where actors (due to the script or their own inexperience) may mishandle guns, it's not uncommon to discover that firearms seen in film and TV productions often end up (when examined in detail) being carved pieces of wood or molded plastic.

This trope is unfortunately Truth in Television, often with tragic results. In the United States, a staggering percentage of all firearm deaths have this as their cause, with many being children of the actual gun owners.

Examples

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Baccano!!, when the celebratory gun shot the head of the Martillo family fires is immediately met with "Oh my God, somebody just killed Isaac!" from the floor above (luckily, Isaac's Plucky Comic Relief status means it actually only went through the brim of his hat without touching him).
  • So Ra No Wo To, When sent to investigate another part of the base for a ghost (It Makes Sense in Context, sorta), Kanata and Kureha showed bad gun safety. They were fingering the triggers of their rifles while arming up, although we don't know whether the rifles were loaded when they did that (still bad, though) and at least they weren't intentionally pointing them at each other. However, unlike the soldiers of episode 12, they're young and likely have very little (read: non-existent) training with the stuff. Though they've presumably been through Basic...
  • High School Of The Dead, This occurs somewhat often due to the main characters being perfectly normal high school students in a country with heavy gun control during a Zombie Apocalypse, however, since there's a resident gun otaku, their errors are quickly pointed out and Gun Safety is properly followed.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, Kamina's short stint of Juggling Loaded Guns was due to never seeing a gun before. In spite of claiming otherwise, he didn't know what a gun was and thought you used it as a hammer.
  • Haou Airen, Kurumi waves around a loaded pistol when Hakuron is teaching her to shoot. Hakuron yells at her to be careful and takes the gun away. Hakuron himself demonstrates unsafe gun usage later, when he repeatedly uses loaded guns to threaten people he does not intend to kill.
  • InuYasha, In the Band of Seven Arc, Jakotsu is confronted by soldiers who introduce the matchlock to the series. After dispatching them with ease, he studies the gun by looking down the barrel. Of course prior to that, he took a shot to the shoulder with little reaction. A shot to the face might not have phased him much either. Also the guns require a lit fuse and must be loaded manually after each shot.
  • This is how you recognize amateur gun users in City Hunter: they tend to do stupid things with their guns, while professionals like Ryo, Umibozu, Saeko and even Kaori always follow gun safety rules. One Running Gag is an amateur threaten a professional with a revolver at arms length only for the professional to block the cylinder, remark you shouldn't do that (at least not without cocking the hammer first), beat the crap out of him and take his gun.
  • Jesus had his revolver fall out of his jacket onto the floor in front of all of his new co-workers. The ditzy Sayuri picked it up, admonished him about bringing model guns to school...then put the barrel to his head and pulled the trigger. Only the fact that Jesus followed good gun safety by keeping the first chamber empty spared his life.

    Comics 
  • The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers - Fat Freddy takes the household food money and buys a shotgun. He explains to his irritated roommates that he can hunt for their food, and they get more sore at him as he fools around with the gun in the house. While marching around playing parade drill he drops it and it goes off, shooting a hole in the ceiling and killing a rat. The other two hold him to his vow to eat everything he killed.

    Fanworks 
  • Harry Potter And The Nightmares Of Futures Past: Arthur Weasley has a gun in his office in the Ministry of Magic, which he shows to Harry and starts to pull the trigger with the muzzle close to his head, but the gun doesn't shoot because Arthur didn't go all the way. Harry nearly has a heart attack when this happens. He proceeds to steal the gun so that Arthur doesn't do this again. (And the gun is charmed to conjure bullets as it goes, so it might be useful in the future!)

    Film 
  • Planet Terror, half of the Grindhouse double-feature, Dr. Dakota Block gives a gun to her child, when she leaves him alone in a car. He shoots himself within a few seconds of her leaving the car.
  • The Dark Knight: Psychopaths don't observe proper gun safety for obvious reasons.
    • At one point The Joker stumbles and unintentionally sprays a burst of S&W M76 fire in a random direction. Of course, he'd probably find it funny if he shot someone. Or himself.
    • Harvey Dent points loaded guns at people with his finger on the trigger while he's still determining whether to shoot them. Not that he would particularly care if he accidentally killed any of them; an accident is no less random than a coin-flip, after all.
  • House, William Katt's character pretends that his shotgun went off while he was cleaning it, in order to explain the sound of gunshots. He actually used it to shoot a demonic witch-thing, but he's afraid it may have actually been his ex-wife.
  • The Host, Nam-il keeps pointing the barrel of his shotgun at objects (and people). In one scene, he pointed and thrust the shotgun at Gang-du's head while the latter was asleep.
  • Frozen River, the main character is far from a gun expert, but is in fact a gun owner and somewhat intelligent person. Therefore it's quite horrifying to see one scene where she's driving a car while holding someone at gunpoint in the passenger seat. Just to be clear, she has a loaded gun in her hand, with her finger on the trigger, and is steering with that hand. The gun keeps swinging wildly in the passenger's direction. It becomes hard to pay attention to the film when you're constantly waiting for someone to unintentionally blow someone else's brains out.
  • Commando: After Matrix gets locked up in a police van, Rae Dawn Chong tries to free him with a quad-barrelled missile launcher. Unfortunately, she points the wrong end at the target and blows up the shops behind her. Although given that the launcher, the M-202 "Flash", fires rockets tipped with a compound similar to white phosphorus (and would have incinerated the van), someone was getting screwed no matter where it was pointing.
  • Yes-Man, the hero goes skeet shooting with his girlfriend. She asks what to do, and unintentionally shoots the ground. After the instructor shows her where to point, she hits the clay pigeon. In her excitement, she turns around still holding the gun and everyone in the shooting range ducks for cover.
  • 8 Mile, the movie: Eminem's friend shoots himself (in a very sensitive part) in the act of putting a gun in his waistband - with surprising little reaction.
  • Star Trek: First Contact has a meta-example, Watch closely when Lily Sloane returns the phaser to Picard: the tip flashes red shortly, as a sign for the VFX people to add a phaser beam. Luckily, they didn't. This makes Picard's assertion that she could have vaporized him if she hit the trigger that much more amusing.
  • Go, had a scene where a one character plays with a loaded handgun in a moving car while his increasingly-concerned friend attempts to get it back from him before it goes off. It doesn't.
  • Harry Brown, The street scum villains handle their weapons in ridiculously unsafe manners. Lampshaded when, at a crucial moment, one bad guy's weapon jams due to his poor treatment and maintenance of it, allowing Harry to kill him.
  • The Blues Brothers: while the band shops and haggles for instruments from Mr. Ray Charles, a kid attempts to surreptitiously steal an item. Without warning, Ray lifts up a pistol, and fires it between Jake's and Elwood's heads, scaring off the would-be thief. Imagine the Prop people handing a blind man a pistol with blanks, and telling him to fire it in the direction of two actors, a cameraman and assorted production staff.
  • Dawn of the Dead: Peter gives Steve a lesson in why it's not a good idea to point loaded guns at people, especially when you can't shoot straight.
  • Plan 9 from Outer Space, an actor deliberately did this because he wanted to see if director Ed Wood would stop filming when a character was being so blatantly unsafe with a firearm. Actions included keeping his finger on the trigger at all times, casually pointing at people with it and even scratching his head with the barrel. True to his nickname, One Take Eddie never stopped to correct him.
    • At the yearly film festival B-Fest, where this is shown at midnight, every time he makes a mistake with his gun, the audience yells "BANG!"
  • Narc: the cops are called to the scene of an apparent Bath Suicide. They eventually figure out that the guy in the bath had actually been using his shotgun as a makeshift hash pipe, but had forgotten to make sure there wasn't a round chambered beforehand...
  • In the film Snatch, some Reckless Gun Usage (firing off a series of rapid shots at a dog while not even looking in the same direction) results in one character unintentionally killing the infamously unkillable Bullet Tooth Tony.
  • Just about everyone in 1941:
    • Ward Douglas fires an anti-aircraft gun at a Japanese submarine by firing the gun through his house.
    • Wild Bill shoots at an American plane (mistakenly thinking it's a Japanese plane) while it flies at low altitude over Hollywood Boulivard, which is crowded with people.
    • When there's an air raid warning, a tank crew starts shooting at the lighted signs on the street, not caring where the bullets go. A safer and more effective approach might have been to turn off the lights instead of shooting at them.
  • A mild case in Gran Torino when Thao picks up Walt's (empty) rifle, Walt looks him in the eye as he takes hold of the barrel and points it somewhere that isn't his face.
  • The police farce Super Troopers has a scene where the protagonists are up at a shooting range testing out a bulletproof groin protector worn by Mac...using live rounds.
    O'Hagan: Bulletproof cup, huh? I invented this gag, Rabbit! Only in my day, the rookie got naked! *fires gun, accidentally shooting out a car window*. And we also used blanks. You're a sick motherfucker, Mac.
    Mac: Thanks Chief.
  • 30 Minutes or Less has the bank robbery scene, where one woman slides a gun across the floor after not wanting to hold it. The gun then hits the bank counter, shooting a guy through the leg. The victim is understandably pissed at her.
  • In the second Hellboy movie, Hellboy fires his Hand Cannon at two tiny little creatures that were flying from him towards a crowd of spectators. Given the size of the gun (big), the size of the creatures (small), and the fact that they were in a direct line to the spectators, you'd expect some collateral damage.
  • A minor example from Escape from L.A.: the lead in to the basketball scene shows a group of gunmen surrounding the court and shooting the poor sap inside full of holes. The gunmen on opposites sides of the court are obviously firing toward each other during the execution.
  • Among the many, many common-sense failures of Birdemic, our hero Rod introuces two children to another survivor of the titular "shock and terror" by pointing his loaded gun at each one as he names them.
  • At the Christmas party in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, one of the guests turns up and starts waving a loaded revolver around, pointing it at people, et cetera. This is Played for Laughs (!!!), then lampshaded when Jim Williams and John Kelso decide to find a conversation, in Kelso's words, "less likely to involve gunfire."
  • Goodfellas wavers between Artistic License - Gun Safety and this trope. 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.
    • Karen in one scene hides a snub-nose revolver in her panties. A Justified Trope in this case, as she is hiding it from a police search. Plenty of other characters stick guns in waistbands or pockets where they could negligently discharge.
    • 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.
  • Semi Pro has a scene where a bunch of characters are drunkenly playing poker when one of them pulls out a gun. He points it at another character and then reveals he was joking and the gun is unloaded. Everyone then all begin playing with the gun by pretending to shoot themselves or each other. The gun is loaded and finally goes off after several characters have pulled the trigger. One character gets shot in the arm.
  • The scene between Buzzy and Duffy in 11:14 could be shown in gun safety classes as "Things You Must Never Do." First, Duffy points it at Buzzy's head when he has no intention of harming her. Then Buzzy picks it up, twirls it and starts playing cops-and-robbers with it… knowing it's loaded, because the bullets fell out when she twirled it and she put them back in. It's sheer luck that nobody's hurt when the gun goes off.
  • In RoboCop (1987), there is an example that could be this trope or Artistic License - Gun Safety. 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.
  • In Zombieland, Bill Murray runs out to scare an armed character while dressed as a zombie. This is a mind-blowing violation of common sense. You do not jump out and startle someone in a hostile environment while they are wielding a gun. Getting shot is not funny.
    • Although, at the time, he was high as balls, so he may not have had much common sense at the time.
  • In Spiderman3 it's revealed that Uncle Ben's death was not intended. He'd actually talked his would be assailant into putting the gun down and walking away, but his accomplice came up from behind and slapped him on the shoulder, startling him and causing him jolt,accidentally pulling the trigger in the process.

    Literature 
  • Schroedinger's Ball begins with the main character having just shot himself in the face, fatally, while cleaning his grandmother's gun. However, he's hardly an expert. In fact, the book goes so far to as to point out his inexperience in handing firearms in the "Dramatis Personae" section at the very beginning.
  • In Year of the Dragon, later made into an Oliver Stone movie, one of the Triad gang members unintentionally shoots off his toes with his own machine gun (in the movie, the cop shoots him in the foot).
  • The Fire Duke: Averted. One of the locals is watching over a portal to another world when someone arrives to relieve him. He carefully removes the magazine, unchambers the loaded round then loads it back into magazine before handing over his firearm.
  • Patriot Games: In the heat of the final chase after the terrorists who attacked him and his family, Jack Ryan sticks a gun into his belt, without engaging the safety, which causes a bit of a tense moment later on when one of the marines with him notices.
  • In The Return of Rapido Clint and Mr. J.G. Reeder by J.T. Edson, a British thug picks up Rapido's Colt automatic. Being unfamiliar with firearms, he pushes the safety catch off thinking that he is putting it on. He then strikes a pose like his favourite cowboy actor and the gun goes off.
  • In John Dies at the End, John and Dave are searching for a missing person inside an abandoned mall. While creeping around in the dark building, Dave hears a voice behind him, spins around and pulls the trigger, only to find that it's the man they were looking for. Fortunately, he hadn't chambered a round, so he just poses casually with the gun, "so as not to be too blatant about the fact that [he] had almost killed him with it just now."
    • In the sequel This Book Is Full Of Spiders, Amy informs Josh that, while loading his gun, he accidentally pointed the barrel at her head four times. Later, while watching the footage on Josh's gun-mounted camera, she notices that he frequently points it right at the back of his friend's head.
  • Not a gun, but the same principle: in Men at Arms, when Lance-Constable Detritus first starts waving the massive seigebow that eventually becomes known as the Peicemaker around, there's a heart-stopping moment when he asks "What are a safety catch?" By Night Watch, Sergeant Detritus has been taught "When Mister Safety Catch Is Not On, Mister Crossbow Is Not Your Friend", but Commander Vimes still needs to keep checking he's remembering that.

    Live-Action TV 
  • My Name Is Earl, Chubby had a squirt gun full of vodka he used to top off patrons' drinks at his strip club and an identical looking real gun. He didn't learn from his mistake when he shot a drink with the wrong gun on screen. You can all guess how he died off screen.
  • Monk, after fighting a suspect for a gun, Natalie turns around, gun in hand. She tells Monk, who had already been shot in the leg earlier in the episode and was trying climb down some stairs to assist Natalie, that she was okay...and unintentionally shot Monk in his uninjured leg.
  • CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Nick Stokes investigates how a woman got shot with no evidence of a shooter anywhere near. The answer is that there was an idiot who had a gun and made a shooting range in the backyard, in the suburbs within city limits, a big-time city ordinance no-no, and a stray bullet went into the air and struck the woman on the decline. When they arrest him, he protests it was an accident and Stokes contemptuously responds "Well, that's why it's illegal to shoot guns within city limits, genius!"
  • X-Play, Adam Sessler went to a SWAT training session, and got chewed out for having his finger on the trigger.
  • The District: A woman gets shot with no one nearby in a subplot for one episode. Turns out some punk got a hold of a World War II gun and test-fired it by shooting down the apparently-empty street.
  • A shooting lesson in Torchwood showed Gwen playfully pointing a loaded gun at Jack's face. Admittedly, Gwen knows he can get back up again, but as an ex-soldier he should have reacted more than "Target's that way!", if only to save her next target.
  • Doctor Who, Made-for-TV Movie: The Doctor shows he's an Actual Pacifist by threatening to shoot himself in order to commandeer a policeman's motorcycle. However, when Grace wants a word with him, he starts pointing the gun vaguely in the direction of the policeman while looking the other way. It's not even clear if he's actually aiming at the cop or if it's simply slipped his mind that the object he's holding is a gun.
    • In The End Of Time, the Doctor does a Dramatic Gun Cock every time he changes his aim. Does he think he needs to hold the gun very, very still to prevent it uncocking itself, or does he believe that the gun knows when he changes his mind? It shouldn't even be possible to do that.
    • Subverted in the episode "Daleks in Manhattan". A ditzy-seeming actress is almost exaggeratedly bad at safe handling of a gun she has been threatening with, ultimately throwing it onto a chair. It's a prop.
    • On the other hand, played very straight in the episode "Dalek". The security guards ambush the Dalek twice. Both times, the setup has guards on opposite sides of the Dalek firing at it—and thus at each other, with automatic weapons no less. They probably took more casualties from friendly fire than they did from the Dalek.
    • Amy Pond's alternate universe skill with a gun did not carry over, as shown when she wildly swings around a revolver in "A Town Called Mercy." Her first misfire was no doubt because of her Dramatic Gun Cock earlier, but then it goes off a second time. Yes, she manages to misfire with a single action revolver.
    "Everyone who is not an American drop your gun!"
  • Stargate SG-1, avoids the trope almost a little too much when a museum worker is ordered by a guard to hold Cam and Vala at gunpoint and while he certainly points the gun at them, his finger is not even close to the trigger. To be fair, he was on SG-1's side and as such, had no intention of killing them.
  • Knowing Me, Knowing You with Alan Partridge, Alan Partridge once unintentionally shot an obnoxious food critic in the heart with an antique dueling pistol on live television. It is this (coupled with his later punching of a BBC programming executive in the face with a turkey) that ended his TV career.
  • The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., While Brisco is tussling with a bad guy. The Girl of the Week wants to help, and 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.
  • Cheers, A jealous man comes into the bar threatening Frasier with a revolver. After the man is talked out of the shooting and the gun is taken from him, Sam puts it in his back pocket for storage. Afterward, he goes to sit down, and shoots himself in the butt.
  • The Wire:
    • Kima is assigned to investigate the murder of a State's witness in an alley. There's quite a bit of backroom scheming because it's a mayoral election year, so she is under pressure from one side to solve the case quickly and from the other to bury it. It turns out, a pair of drunken knuckleheads two blocks away were shooting at beer bottles and hit the guy unintentionally.
    Det Norris: So these idiots are shooting forties two blocks down, and now this Carcetti fuck gets to be mayor? What a town.
    • Pryzbylewski is assigned to a unit because he's a foul-up who can't be fired because of his family connections. He has several instances of reckless gun usage, including shooting up his own car with two magazines full of ammo, shooting a hole in the wall of his office while showing a fellow officer how light his trigger is, and pistol-whipping a 14-year-old boy in the face, causing him permanent blindness in one eye.
    • The police aren't the only ones who don't know how to handle a weapon. In a Season 3 episode, Avon Barksdale handles a pistol with his finger on the trigger the entire time, waving it around and pointing it at his colleagues the entire time.
    • During an investigation (the famous Cluster F-Bomb scene), McNulty points his own service weapon at himself repeatedly to figure out a bullet trajectory.
    • There are also several instances of gang fights with reckless gun usage, such as trying to do a drive by, or not even looking at the people they're trying to shoot. In one instance, it leads to a stray shot killing a young child who happened to be in a building near by, and, in another, Dante accidentally shoots a member of his own stickup crew, and probably never even realises he did so.
  • Battlestar Galactica, In "Valley of Darkness", Dualla tells Billy (a civilian) that sticking a pistol in his pants with the safety off is a bad idea. Later Billy has an unintentional discharge when taking the safety off, giving away their position to the Cylons.
  • Entourage, After a break-in, when the guys decide to arm themselves. Drama comes home with a bag full of loaded guns, and Turtle starts playing with one, at which point Drama grabs it from him and says "Careful, Turtle, that's a loaded weapon!" At which point the gun goes off and blows out a window, prompting the guys to maaaaaaaybe think about getting some professional security.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series, involving Time Travel and the not-gun-shaped Phaser. In "Tomorrow Is Yesterday", Kirk is captured by Air Police in 1969, and cringes with priceless facial expressions as they fiddle with his weapon, toss it, and several times almost press the trigger, conflicted between justifiable fear and the need not to give away future information.
    • Similarly, in City on the Edge of Forever, a homeless man robs Bones while he's unconscious, and promptly vaporizes himself with the doctor's phaser.
  • Top Gear, the hosts travel to the North Pole, and are given a variety of firearms in case they need to defend themselves from polar bears. At one point, though, James May earnestly looks down the barrel of his shotgun, and is yelled at by their guide, who grabs the weapon out of his hands.
    • In a Series 14 outtake, May defended himself, claiming it was the only way to see whether the barrel is unblocked.
      • Important Safety Tip, you never do that. Open the action and check from the breech end; light coming through the barrel without shadows shows an unblocked barrel. This lets you also remove any shell from the chamber, in case the gun is loaded - and it is.
  • Touched by an Angel, someone breaking just about all the rules — carelessly waving a loaded WW2-era pistol around, pointing it straight at a friend, and then removing the magazine without clearing the chamber. After all that, how unlucky is it for said gun to get knocked off a desk, unintentionally fire, and shoot someone right in the heart?
  • Perry Mason, If there was a gun involved in the murder-of-the-week, odds are good that Perry Mason will recklessly wave that gun around. One episode was particularly egregious: The district attorney, Hamilton Berger, fondles the murder weapon (a revolver marked as exhibit whatever) during the trial and rests it casually on the witness box, his finger on the trigger, the barrel aimed directly at the weapons expert's head. After a few questions, he turns it toward the jury, gesturing dramatically. Then, Mason does exactly the same thing when cross-examining.
  • Beverly Hills 90210, a Very Special Episode of the original uses this to kill off one of the regulars, in front of Bryan Austin Green.
  • Tales from the Crypt, episode "Judy, You're Not Yourself Today", the husband points his rifle at a random solicitor, and then pulls the trigger while pointing it at his wife to prove the gun was unloaded. In the end he ends up trying to physically subdue his wife's body snatcher (a old witch traded bodies with her) while holding the gun, and ends up shooting his wife.
  • A Thousand Ways To Die, there are two guys who have been friends since they were in elementary; they do everything together and are generally chummy towards each other, even deciding to live together as roommates in college. Unfortunately, in adulthood one of the two friends gained an addiction to cigarettes and constantly bothers the other for money so he can buy more, or for spares to share with him. Becoming tired of having to supply cigarettes for his friend, the annoyed friend loads some cigarettes into his shotgun and aims them directly into his roommate's face, saying, "Hey buddy want some cigarettes?" Being drunk at the time, he didn't seem afraid of having a shotgun pointed at him and nods his head in approval at the idea of cigarettes. The cigarettes fly out of the shotgun at super sonic speed and penetrate the guy's skull. He simply wanted to injure his friend; he didn't think cigarettes would penetrate flesh like bullets do. This show that you never point a gun at something or someone you are not intending to kill or destroy, and that anything flying out of a gun is going to be potentially lethal.
    • Another episode featured a magician attempting a bullet-catching trick; when tapping the barrel of the gun with his wand, part of the wand's tip fell off and into the barrel, which was then propelled by the blank cartridge with lethal force through a major artery in his neck.
  • Class Act, two robbers are planning a heist. One gets a little excited and fires two shots, prompting his partner to find an excuse to take the gun away. When Gloria manages to disarm the same robber and threatens his partner with a shotgun up close, said partner is unimpressed because he knows he didn't give a loaded gun to a complete nutter. Zigzagged since although he did take proper precautions, he is still betting his life that a gun he last saw in the hands of a complete nutter is still unloaded.
  • Highway To Heaven episode "The Torch" includes a group of Neo Nazis. Among them is Rolf (played by Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Zach on Saved by the Bell). While handling an Uzi in the Neo Nazi lair, Rolf fires the weapon, hitting his father and another Neo Nazi, killing his father.
  • Whose Line Is It Anyway?. The game 'Film Dub' has black and white movie footage involving a pontificating police officer pointing his gun everywhere, including himself. The improvisational dubbed dialogue indicates the cop has shot everything in sight.
  • Married... with Children: There's a prowler in the neighborhood. Al decides to get a gun, the Rhodes' get an attack dog that chews through the fence. Hilarity Ensues.
  • In the Sons of Anarchy season 2 finale, the Sons ambush the Mayans who are escorting Zobelle out of town. They pull up behind his car in formation on their motorcycles, then a moving van pulls out in front and shoots out the back at the Mayans - with the Sons still behind them.
  • On The Office (US) after Dwight becomes acting manager he finds out that the company CEO is an avid gun collector so he decides to get his own antique revolver and keeps it in a case on his desk. When he later gets a holster as a gift, he decides to show off by walking around the office with while wearing the holster with the gun in it. When people complain about this he gets irritated and tries to do twirl the gun. The gun discharges and he almost shoots Andy in the head. Andy's ear drum is ruptured and he goes temporarily deaf in one ear. When the company CEO finds out about this she is livid at him being so reckless. There is also the fact that he kept a old gun on his desk as a collectible without removing the bullets.
    • In "Survivorman," Dwight is shown observing Michael through the scope of his rifle. When he sees the camera crew watching him, he says not to worry the safety is (*looks* - *click*) on.
  • Republic Of Doyle had a scene where Jake and Malachy are talking to an aging gangster. The gangster has a loaded revolver which he slams on the table and then regularly hits the table with his fist so the revolver bounces up and down. Jake and Malachy keep trying to move the gun so it is not pointed at them.
  • Used often in Sherlock.
    • In "The Great Game", following an intensely stressful confrontation with his arch nemesis, Moriarty, Sherlock Holmes agitatedly waves around a loaded gun without the safety on, then proceeds to absent-mindedly scratch his head with it.
    • In the same episode, he fires a pistol at the living room wall...of a terraced house. Firstly, the noise might have alerted his neighbours, upon which he could've expected a visit from the Metropolitan Police (who, for the record, are explicitly stated to be itching to prosecute him for something).note  Secondly, over-penetration: the very real risk of the bullets passing through the wall and hitting something (or someone) in other rooms/buildings. Not to mention that he then fires it behind his back, doesn't look where he's aiming, has the gun lying around loaded, chambered and armed, holds it loosely and lets it wobble around after ceasing fire, and points it at John while handing it back.
    • In "A Scandal in Belgravia", he disarms a man and flips the gun through the air before casually catching and aiming it while holding the trigger. In contrast, Irene Adler, in the same scene, points a pistol at her assailant with her finger clearly off the trigger — just like the assailants themselves were doing moments earlier. (The assailants being CIA operatives, justifying their knowledge of proper firearm handling.)
    • Sherlock takes it Up to Eleven in "The Reichenbach Fall", where he shoots twice into the air in a highly populated area, presses the loaded gun to his best friend's head with his finger on the trigger, and later just drops it onto the cobblestoned street while running away.
  • Pretty much any time Frank Burns gets hold of a firearm in Mash. He's managed to shoot himself in the foot, and to shoot BJ.
  • In the first episode of Wild Boys, Jack wakes up to find Mary's young son Tom pointing Jack's own gun at his head. Jack is understandably angry.
  • This caused the death of one of MacGyver's childhood friends, as shown during a flashback in "Blood Brothers".
  • Played straight in The Walking Dead. Most of the main cast have some form of experience regarding safe gun usage (Rick and Shane are cops, Daryl is a hunter, Dale is the designated rifleman) but those like Andrea, Carol and the others have only had limited exposure to guns and wouldn't be familiar with the basic safety rules.
    • In "Nebraska," Dave goes behind the bar in a barely-concealed attempt to set-up Rick. But he does so by putting Rick right between Tony and himself, so if he had actually succeeded in getting off a shot, he'd have hit his friend too.
  • Straddling the line with Artistic License - Gun Safety, on the famous Farscape episode "Crackers Don't Matter", the normally pretty well trained and cautious characters (most notably Aeryn Sun) end up committing egregious sins against firearms safety such as waving their guns around and even pointing her gun at her own head. This is largely to display their mental deterioration.
  • House:
    • House has been irresponsible with firearms—and potato shooters—more than once. The worst, however, happened after Wilson finally found a pistol that House owned to win an argument (long story). House convinces Wilson that the pistol is not, in fact, a firearm, but a prop gun that had belonged to a famous magician. House inserts the clip and cycles the action, and then places the barrel to his head. This is enough to prove to Wilson that the gun is a prop, but the weapon is later revealed to be his father's very real M1911, and House was aiming it at himself with a round chambered.
    • He also once shot a corpse in the hospital morgue.
    • Handing surrendered handgun back to a man who had taken hostages, two of whom he had seriously injured has to count.
  • A Time Trax episode has Darien go on a tour through the wilderness with a group in order to find the week's criminal from the future and send him back. Due to plastic surgery, he has no idea what the guy looks like. He accidentally drops his Stun Gun, which looks like a keyless car alarm remote. Another guy picks it up and says he has seen something like this before. Darien is suspicious (even though the device is disguised as a common object), and the guy ends up pointing it at Darien and pressing the button while saying "Beam Me Up, Scotty!". Darien is stunned for a few minutes but is fine afterwards. Of course, one of the buttons doses the target with a compound necessary for time travel to which a person can only be safely exposed to twice before dying. Had the guy pressed that button, the show would've been over.
  • During Eddie Izzard's show Circle, he discusses the deadly force of a monkey with a gun. And how effective it would be if let into Charleton Heston's house.
  • An episode of Three's Company had Jack buying a revolver, proceeding to be his usual clumsy self with it (tossing it from hand to hand while claiming it was unloaded), and dropping it resulting in a discharge.
  • In How I Met Your Mother, the characters pick up a man they think is Moby. After some time in the car, he gets out his gun, explaining that he never leaves home without it, and proceeds to make elaborate hand gestures while holding it. After they drop him off, he steps back in, still holding the gun, to give them a word of New-Year's-Eve advice: "Safety first!"
  • 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 superhero 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 The Andy Griffith Show, Barney Fife is well known for discharging his revolver at the wrong time so regularly that Andy makes Barney keep only one bullet and he has to keep it in his pocket.
    • Andy presents an example of his own. When he's trying to scare a lazy handyman, Andy points a shotgun at the man's face several times while he pretends to clean it.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Reckless crossbow accidents are seen or mentioned on a couple of occasions, like the Noodle Incident involving the death of Willow and Tara's pet cat. Justified as Scoobies (or ditzy vampires like Harmony) are basically fighting civilians. Even trained Slayers however...
    Kendra: I'm an expert in all weapons.
    (bolt shoots out of the crossbow and breaks a lamp)
    Giles: Is everything alright?
    Buffy: Yeah, it's okay. Kendra killed the bad lamp.
  • NCIS: S10 Ep16 "Detour" has Palmer (no actual firearms training) with a handgun, which he rather casually waves around. Fortunately, Ducky (military training from many decades past) carefully redirects it away from his face.
  • MythBusters: Often, Adam does a demonstration of the use of guns with a stand-in pistol (or two), Lampshading times when he's being more reckless than usual with comments like "I'm shooting my cameraman's knees out right now...."
  • Bull shot himself in the foot in an episode of Night Court.
  • In a case of Strawman Has a Point, Stephen Colbert on his May 8th, 2014 show spoke with Jake Rush, a congressional candidate from Florida. While mocking Jake Rush's gun positions, Stephen pulls out his gun "Sweetness," and points the revolver at his own head. When an exasperated Jake Rush tries to correct Stephen, Colbert continues his comedic routine.
  • The Get Some In! episode "Flight" features a scene where the RAF National Servicemen are taken for their first target practice at a nearby RAF base's rifle range. One of the recruits, Matthew Lilley, does not place the butt of his rifle properly against his shoulder and is caught off guard by the recoil on his first shot; on his second shot, the gun jams, and in communicating this to his drill instructor, Corporal Marsh, he stands up and turns around, still holding the gun and causing his fellow airmen to scatter in terror. Marsh just manages to keep his cool as he directs Lilley to turn around, set the gun down gently, and step away from it before giving him a bollocking for endangering the lives of everyone else present.
  • Pretty much everything Lester is shown doing with his shotgun in the flashback to when he purchased it in the Fargo episode "The Six Ungraspables". His wife remarks that he would the only person capable of blowing his face off with an unloaded shotgun.

     Other 
  • Lampshaded in a Penn & Teller routine where they do their "Bullet Catch" magic act, in which they describe all of the basic rules of gun safety and go on to "violate" all of them, culminating with both Penn and Teller in a pseudo Mexican Standoff until they fire at each other. (In one documentary, "50 Greatest Magic Tricks", Penn emphasises that they ensure safety with a rigid series of checks before and during the routine and a stage manager with the power to call it off if anything goes off-script.)

    Music 
  • The Hunting Song by Tom Lehrer, about incidents usual for an opening of the hunting season. With a "recipe":
    People ask me how I do it
    And I say, "There's nothing to it!
    I just stand there looking cute...
    And when something moves, I shoot!"
  • Sting's "I Hung My Head" from Mercury Falling starts with a young man violating rules #1 and #2, resulting in the death of an innocent horseman and his hanging for manslaughter.
  • Leave it to Lynyrd Skynyrd to write, in "Saturday Night Special", the classic song verse about this trope:
    Big Jim's been drinkin' whiskey
    And playing poker on a losin' night.
    Pretty soon, Big Jim starts a thinkin'
    Somebody been cheatin' and lyin'.
    So Big Jim commences to fightin'
    (I wouldn't tell you no lie )
    And Big Jim done grab his pistol
    Shot his friend right between the eyes.
    • A few lines later, the self inflicted variation is discussed.

    Theatre 
  • Der Freischütz, and the rock opera version, The Black Rider (which was written by Robert Wilson, Tom Waits and William S. Burroughs), combine this trope with literal Diabolus ex Machina, and the heroine gets shot on her wedding day. In Carl Maria von Weber's original version, the bullet gets deflected by the blessed white roses in her bridal wreath, though, and she's okay (the villain buys it, instead).
  • Assassins: Sarah Jane Moore is written to be played with no regard for the proper operation or storage of her .38 revolver. She unintentionally discharges it no less than five times during the course of the show, once while it's still in her hand bag, narrowly missing Squeaky Fromme, once into the air when she's supposed to be clicking the hammer of an unloaded weapon in "The Gun Song," once when startled with her finger prematurely on the trigger, damaging Charles Guiteau's hearing in the process, and twice during two separate scene change blackouts, with the lights coming up on her scene the second time to reveal she's just unintentionally shot her own dog.
  • Hedda Gabler has the title character absently firing off inherited pistols offstage out of sheer boredom.

    Video Games 
  • Second Sight, Justified on the cover of as the protagonist is mentally unstable, possibly even suicidal.
    • His firearms instructions are also limited to one day of basic training, after which he is thrust into a hot zone.
  • Half-Life, the player can twirl a loaded revolver in front of vital characters or even pull the trigger back far enough to raise the hammer while pointing it at them (they're part of idle animations, and all conversations are in-game so you'll see it a lot) which almost guarantees a friendly fire incident or six. The sequel makes Gordon lower his weapon automatically when pointing the crosshairs at a friendly NPC so it no longer applies.
  • Resident Evil, early games had 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.
  • Eternal Darkness, During Maxamillion's chapter, after he picks up two flintlock pistols, an insanity effect involves dropping one of them while reloading, killing him.
  • Fallout 2, features a cruel variant: One of the ways to assassinate Orville Wright is to give one of his kids a loaded gun and tell them "Why don't you wave this in your daddy's face and pull the trigger?"
  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, In one of the radio segments, Jack Howitzer threatens to kill host Billy Dexter unless he touches Jack's genitals (It Makes Sense in Context... sorta) and then says he was just fooling around and that his gun was unloaded, only for it to go off and kill Dexter.
  • In the Security opening cutscene for the Aquarium level of Brink, one of the Security Officers smacks his friend's gun away, because he was waving it around while he was talking.
  • Metal Gear Solid's Ocelot, particularly in the third game, turns this into a form of art. He twirls his guns obsessively, aims them around with no concept of trigger discipline, and juggles three at a time while randomly aiming and firing to grill a man for information.
  • In Metro2033 and Metro Last Light, Artyom will sometimes do some incredibly stupid/funny things when the Idle Animation begin to play, such as repeatedly tossing his Bastard Gun - which is cobbled together from half a dozen rusting weapons - into the air high enough for him to look up for it, only for it to smack him in the face as it falls. Most of his other reckless usage is him simply breaking his weapons - playing with the selector switch until it falls off (before smacking it back in place), tweaking the adjustable stock on his shotgun which causes the gun to break in half, et cetera.
  • Mortal Kombat 9 sees a Tarkatan unloading automatic shotguns recently delivered to Outworld, as part of a deal between Kano and Shao Kahn. As he takes one out, he points it at Baraka, finger on the trigger. (To be fair, it's more than likely that's the first time he's ever seen a gun.) Baraka catches this, yanks the gun away, and angrily shouts, "That is not a toy!"

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • The Onion, this article , an 8-year-old boy who unintentionally shot himself in the thigh wins praise from Strawman Politicals for having exercised his constitutional rights.
  • In the second tale of Merry in the Whateley Universe a passel of Federal agents look on in amusement as Merry, completely untrained, points her weapon directly at another police officer, finger on the trigger, and discusses shooting him.
  • Kickassia: Bennett The Sage at one point wipes a tear off his own cheek with an Uzi.
  • An early episode of Ian is Bored shows Ian, Anthony, and some other friends going to a gun range. Ian holds a loaded pistol in a ridiculous fashion For the Lulz , one of their friends loads his gun in an overly dramatic way, and another points a live gun at the person holding the camera.

    Western Animation 
  • Gargoyles, Elisa is at one point seriously injured when Broadway shoots her while playing with her gun. To be fair, Broadway is a 1,000-year-old gargoyle who had never handled a gun before... but Elisa, a NYPD detective, had left her sidearm, holster and gun belt unattended in another room from where she was (she admits later that she should have known better). This is a case of Reckless Gun Usage for the 1,000 year old gargoyle that has no concept of firearms, and a case of basic breach of common sense for the New York cop who kept a loaded gun holstered and unsecured in her apartment in plain sight and should have known better. Notably, she's much more careful for the rest of the series, and Broadway gains guns as a new Berserk Button.
  • In The Simpsons episode "The Cartridge Family", Homer buys a gun after riots erupt in Springfield. He proceeds to be very reckless with it, using it to open beers and change the channel (among other things). When the members of the local NRA see him doing this, they chew him out for being so irresponsible and kick him out. Earlier in the episode he hides the gun in the crisper drawer after Marge tells him to get rid of it; Bart finds it by accident, and Marge catches him and Milhouse about to play William Tell with it. The apple is in his mouth.
    • Also in "$pringfield": frenzied over Lisa's nightmare, Homer believes that the boogeyman is really out there and he brandishes a shotgun which he points at Marge's face when she comes home, upon realizing that she's not the boogeyman he tosses the gun onto the ground, negligently causing it to discharge. Thankfully, no one was hit.
    • Then there's The Simpsons Movie where Chief Wiggum eats donuts off the barrel of his handgun, which goes off while he does so, but somehow he is not shot. Immediately after stating his relief over this close call, he continues to eat the donuts in the same way.
    • Wiggum is shown in another episode getting chewed out by a Drill Sergeant Nasty for looking down the barrel of his own gun (after firing it very timidly), or what he calls, "Pointsy-Towardsies." Wiggum then uses said gun to massage the back of the drill sergeant, whereupon he negligently shot the cameraman. In a later scene it is shown Wiggum got his position because he gave the mayor the same type of massage.
    • Wiggum also uses the butt of his gun to crack nuts open and then shoots one of them when he is unsuccessful.
  • Batman: The Animated Series, episode "The Underdwellers": While being chased by Alfred, a young hooligan in the Wayne mansion discovers a collection of antique firearms. He grabs a blunderbuss off the wall and proceeds to wave it around like a toy. Alfred immediately backs off, but Batman jumps in and grabs the gun out of the boy's hands. Batman notes, "It's not loaded, but it could have been."
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers, Wheeler had been showing off his gun-twirling skills with a loaded revolver. The gun went off but since it's a cartoon, it hit the sign, making it fall and hit Ma-Ti on the head.
  • In Top Cat, in trying to help Choo-Choo woo a lady cat, TC ends up drawing pistols at high noon with the lady's actual boyfriend. Of course, he rigs the duel beforehand and has Benny replace everyone's bullets with blanks, and then he feigns a fatal injury so his "Heroic Sacrifice" would get him back into everyone's good graces. Turns out, though, that Benny didn't have time to switch out the bullets, at which point TC stares at the bullethole going through the middle of his hat and faints dead away.
  • In Scooby-Doo! and the Reluctant Werewolf, Vanna Pyra shoots Dracula in the face with the starting pistol.

    Real Life 
  • This video features a man who decides to look down the barrel of a loaded and cocked shotgun after it jams. He's lucky he only blew a hole through his hat.
  • Actor Jon-Erik Hexum killed himself on the set of the series Cover Up by playing with a .44 Magnum handgun. Joking around during a delay in filming, he put the gun to his temple and pulled the trigger. Because the gun was loaded with blank cartridges, Hexum evidently thought it was harmless, but he was still setting off a gunpowder explosion next to his head. The detonation shattered his skull and drove a fragment of it into his brain, wounding him fatally.
  • The page quote (allegedly) comes from the incident that led to Terry Kath's death. He was cleaning a pistol, and when one of his friends was worried about it, Kath pointed out that the clip wasn't in the gun to reassure everyone. He showed them that there weren't any bullets in the magazine, then put it back in, put it against his head, and pulled the trigger. There was a bullet in the chamber.


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