Useful Notes Gun Safety Discussion

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09:36:59 PM Jun 25th 2014
The note about reporting a lost and found gun sort of irks me. Is there story or some such that says police will charge you with a crime for merely reporting a lost and found gun? And how come lawyers and clergy are exempt from this?

I recall in an episode of Dirty Jobs when Mike was doing gutter cleanup in LA, the collectors mentioned they even found firearms in the gutters and reported it to the cops without ill effect.
04:22:00 PM Jul 11th 2014
edited by
If you hand in a gun, and it has been used in a crime, then the police are duty to bound to investigate YOU as a suspect in case you are covering your tracks by trying to appear innocent. From there it is only a couple of coincidences, or one lazy cop, to formal charges. Even if the case against you is built on highly suspect circumstantial evidence, be aware innocent people have gone to jail on weak and circumstantial evidence. If you hand it to a lawyer or a priest, then they have certain protections in terms of client confidentiality that protects you from being an easy mark. Always remember the golden rule of police interaction: Anything you do or say to a police officer can be used against you, no matter how innocent. Never interact with the police without legal advice first.
09:46:21 PM Jul 30th 2014
edited by
After reading that, I'm finding glaring holes in that logic.

What I got out of this is, why does it have to stop with guns? This could apply to any suspect object, such as a dead body, a package of drugs, a bomb. For example, if I find a dead body then, am I going to subject to the same thing you said? In other words, I probably shouldn't until I tell the lawyer or priest who will then report it.

Except I'm pretty sure there are plenty of cases where people report dead bodies and nobody thinks anything of it most of the time. While I'm sure the police question the person to get out an alibi and stuff, this is sounding more like a scare tactic and that I should just not report anything to the police (like I'm going to have a lawyer or priest handy on my phone and what if I walk away from the scene and come back for said object not to be there?)

Also I did a quick and dirty Google search and most people said report a lost gun to the police without any mention of going through the process described.

And in fact, if I took that last sentence very literally, what, should I not run to a cop if one is there if I'm running from someone threatening me without seeking the advice of my lawyer first? No that just seems silly to me. Especially if it's something like a bomb. I'd rather call the cops right away rather than wait for legal advice.
01:34:07 AM Jul 31st 2014
I think we may be dealing with a "different countries different laws" situation. Migth want to Take It to the Forums to settle it.

01:59:50 PM Mar 13th 2014
A while ago, I created a YKTTW page called "Stray Shots Strike Nothing" — is there some place on this page that it would be appropriate to link to it?
02:17:10 PM Mar 13th 2014
I'd say turn "# Do not fire if there is anyone or anything next to or behind your target that you are not willing to hit." into a pothole for it.
07:27:46 AM Nov 19th 2013
I've been thinking about Renisha McBride with regard to:

  • Identify your target. You don't want to shoot something you thought was a threat, but instead was someone innocent. The number of people every year accidentally killed when paranoid homeowners have shot at suspected prowlers [emphasis added], or when hunters have mistaken people for animals, is depressingly high.

The main reason I have not added any kind of link to the bolded section is that the story is still new enough in the public mind that the Rule of Cautious Editing Judgment might apply.
06:12:19 AM Oct 24th 2013
So, sixth bullet point. At this point, MAI 742 and I have gone back and forth three times on this, and I want to put an end to this before moderators have to get involved:

  1. Guns are the most succesful and popular means of suicide (see bottom of page).
  2. If you are in a physical or mental state where using a firearm would make you a risk to yourself or others, do not do so (see bottom of page).
  3. Gun-suicide kills more people than gun-murder (see bottom of page).
  4. If your mental or physical state would make you a danger to yourself or others, do not use firearms. (See especially bottom of page.)
  5. If your mental or physical state means you'd use a gun to kill yourself and/or others, please get help. (See especially bottom of page.)

In my opinion, a good bullet point for the Short Version list at the top of the page has to be universal advice, and "don't shoot yourself" (or even "don't shoot anyone, especially yourself") doesn't read that way. It would be like a book offering driver's license test advice saying, "Don't drive at full speed head-on into a tree" — it doesn't work on a literary level. The reason why I was writing my versions the way I did was because that wording is universal (covers "don't shoot drunk, drugged, exhausted, &c.") and covers the "don't shoot yourself" admonition.
06:27:06 AM Oct 24th 2013
I agree with you. I don't think any mention of "don't intentionally shoot someone" is necessary, given the rest of the points are recommendations to help prevent accidentally shooting someone. It doesn't jive well with the other points, and just seems redundant.
06:50:44 AM Oct 25th 2013
I think we all agree on the fundamentals.

But we should not use euphemisms like 'would make you a danger to yourself'. We're trying to discourage murder and suicide, not stubbed toes.
07:13:35 AM Oct 25th 2013
... are we, though? The point of this page is Useful Notes, not an incredibly out of place suicide hotline. We're a site about tropes in media and I don't think this is the place to try to convince people not to kill themselves or others (and if someone is feeling such things, I doubt the site saying "don't kill people" is really going to make a difference).
07:39:02 AM Oct 25th 2013
90% of what I know about suicide is contained either in the Hyperbole and a Half's Depression Part Two or this. Between those things, though, I'm inclined to agree with Larkmarn's parenthetical — if the paragraph at the bottom doesn't help, a sentence at the top surely won't.

Besides, like I said, I didn't change it up to be coy — you really shouldn't be using firearms while your judgment is impaired, and drunk shooting doesn't fall under "to kill", but does under "make yourself a danger".

# If intoxication, exhaustion, or any other physical or mental state would make you a danger to yourself or others, stay away from firearms.
07:40:08 AM Oct 25th 2013
And like before, I'd have no problem hanging a "(See also bottom of page.)" at the end of it.
05:00:33 AM Oct 26th 2013
Indeed. I mis-spoke.

Not suicide-prevention, obviously.

Just... letting people know.

Anyway, let's just get conclude this discussion and get something up there already.
05:41:54 AM Oct 26th 2013
05:36:12 PM Oct 22nd 2013
Pulled the following:

  • Unless you happen to be a sport shooter doing skeet or marksmanship, in which case your firearm should be only used on the range/competition area, ideally checked out there and checked back in when you leave, or if you must keep it personally, locked up in a gun safe to which you - or, if you are a teenager or not 100 percent mentally well at all times or ever choose to become intoxicated, a designated healthy and safe adult such as your parent, a manager, a responsible coach or teammate, or a lawyer - have the only key. If you are solely interested in firearms for non-wounding and non-killing purposes such as sport shooting/target only shooting, you should also consider a less lethal option such as airsoft or BB guns if they are allowed in competition, or at the very least, for any off-range practice, or consider archery instead of shooting.

...because I didn't think it fit under the bullet where it was added (and because it's a bit wordy). There are some interesting points we might want to add back in somewhere on the page, though:

  • The airsoft and BB gun options for target-shooting.
  • The option of either renting a gun at the range or (am I reading this right?) storing your gun there.
01:08:59 PM Sep 13th 2013
MAI742 raised an interesting point over PM with me about the section on gun suicides: if many readers of the page are likely to stop before going through the entire article, do we want to move that section up close to the top, where they are more likely to see it? Stylistically, I feel it is a better fit where it is, but I would like to solicit other opinions.
06:52:05 AM Oct 25th 2013
Well, you know my opinion already (in favour of putting murder/suicide at the top).
10:41:56 AM Feb 17th 2013
Galactapuss And The Banning (CA) Police Department

In about 2004 I lived in a sort of triplex apartment building in Banning, CA. There was one large apartment in the front and 2 smaller apartments, one to each side, in the back. From the view of someone on the street, I was in the small apartment on the left. There was a small single-family home, unoccupied, in the lot to the right of our building. The second lot to the right had no building at all. The third lot to the right had one single-family building in front (near the street) and one single-family building in the back. I've long since moved, but here it is:,-116.886942&spn=0.000676,0.000871&t=h&z=21 . I was in the leftmost apartment in the building to the left of those two trees.

One evening I walked outside and met a Banning PD officer walking through the driveway in the left of the above map. The officer had his shot gun out and at the ready (though pointed at the ground). I asked the officer what was going on. He said they had received reports of a loose pit bull harassing the neighborhood children. I told him about the unoccupied house to the right of our building. It had an uncovered panel in the back, leading under the house. He asked me to show him the panel. We walked around the front of my building, then back to roughly under the two trees, the one furthest from the street. As we walked back there we were able to see behind the building (one lot to the right), across the vacant lot, and to the rear apartment 3 lots over. That apartment had a swamp cooler right about where the blue dot is in the picture, to the right of the 2 white cars. There were no cars or trucks there at the time. There was a pit bull laying under the swamp cooler. The pit bull's owner was standing on the porch, trying to get the pit bull to come inside. The officer, looking in that direction, raised his flashlight and pointed it over at the swamp cooler and pit bull. The pit bull immediately got up and ran toward us. In a single action the officer dropped his flashlight and raised and aimed his shotgun at the oncoming pit bull. The officer waited a second or two until the pit bull was right about where the blue tarp next to the black pickup is in the map, then fired 3 shots in rapid succession. On the first shot the pit bull did not alter course at all. On the second shot the pit bull's path began to veer a little bit to our left (its right), and on the third shot the pit bull veered further to our left, and tumbled to the ground, dead. A couple of minutes later 5 or 6 additional officers arrived. Everyone present was interview- the officer, the pit bull's owner, and me. It was apparently an ideal situation from the officer's standpoint because an impartial witness had seen the whole thing. I had gone outside to walk around to more or less the same spot, so I would likely have met the pit bull myself if the officer had not been there. As far as I'm concerned, the officer saved me from at least a mauling and possibly saved my life. Thank you, Banning Police Department.

The gun safety part was the officer having the discipline to wait the second or so it took for the pit bull to travel closer, meaning downrange included the ground and not the pit bull's owner.

I don't make donut jokes any more...
07:48:35 AM Feb 18th 2013
The discussion pages are not for Troper Tales.
10:01:57 AM Feb 17th 2013
Galactapuss At The Shooting Range

In about 1985 my jr. high school ag class went on a field trip to an indoor gun range. The teacher was a trained gun user and, as an experienced horse rider, served on the occasional posse with the sheriff's department. The teacher gave us the standard safety speech (always point downrange, always treat gun as if it's loaded, etc.).

The teacher finished his speech and selected a girl from our class as the guinea pig for what we were going to do at our individual firing stations. The target system was a standard rope/pulley/motor/switch setup. The teacher and the rest of the class were lined up along the wall behind the girl's station. After the first shot she did a sort of 'hands out' / 'did I do that right?' gesture, while holding the gun, turning around toward the class, tracking the barrel across us as she turned. We all ducked, doing a sort of inverted wave (the stadium audience thing) as she turned. After correcting the girl's action, the teacher walked her through the steps of loading a new target, moving the target downrange, loading the gun, etc.. On her first shot she hit the rope and the target system fell to the ground.
01:47:10 AM May 23rd 2013
Like to see something like that here in California.
07:01:40 PM Jan 5th 2013
Question: do we want to begin a list of works in which characters demonstrate unusual care with gun safety? I could add an example right now, off the top of my head:

  • In the first Tremors movie, pay attention to how Burt and Heather handle their firearms. For example, when Melvin hands Burt back his revolver after they fled the trailer to get to the rocks, Burt immediately checks to confirm that the cylinder is empty even though he had emptied it himself less than a minute prior.
01:41:41 PM Aug 10th 2014
Two Clint Eastwood examples.

Gran Torino has Walt (Clint)'s neighbor, Thao, pick up a gun prompting Walt to glare and push the barrel away from his face. Almost certain that the gun was unloaded, but Thao couldn't know that.

Heartbreak Ridge has a marine react in entirely the wrong way to a jammed rifle, leading to physical punishment after a negligent discharge.
05:52:04 AM Sep 4th 2012
I love this summary. It's everything my Dad has ever taught me about gun safety.

There's no harm in redundancy. I mod at the Darwin Awards, and we get many many submissions of so-called 'experts' who screwed up. We call most gunshot submissions 'Too Common' because there are just so many idiots out there who don't follow these rules. Particularly the 'always treat the gun like it's loaded', 'don't leave the things just lying around, and 'watch where you point that thing!'
11:24:12 AM Jul 26th 2012
edited by RobinZimm
I think xenol's idea of putting a disclaimer at the top of the page is a good idea, but reading it I realized that it is somewhat redundant with the one at the bottom. For reference, the two disclaimers:

Top: Note that this is for informational purposes only. The authors of TV Tropes take no responsibility for any accidents if you ignore proper training thinking this page was good enough.

Bottom: while we have done our best to make the above information clear, concise, and comprehensive, there is no substitute for actual training with firearms. Such training can be had from many sources, ranging from major organizations like the US National Rifle Association to local shooting clubs. This page is not intended to be used as a substitute for said training.

What I propose is pulling the bottom and changing the top to the following (hat-tip to The Other Wiki):

Disclaimer: TV Tropes is a publicly-editable wiki focused on the analysis of fictional media. Because any interested person, qualified or not, can make changes to these pages, TV Tropes can make no guarantee of the accuracy or completeness of the following information. Any person interested in firearms operation should seek safety training from an expert.
01:38:58 PM Jul 26th 2012
I leave the disclaimer up to anyone. I just wanted to plant the seed.
08:45:45 PM Jul 25th 2012
edited by xenol
I did some pruning.

Yes, while we'd like to emphasize safety and repeat ourselves, maybe we should emphasize the fact that we are not licensed/certified/etc. gun trainers and it's better to go out and get some actual training than read TV Tropes.

... Actually we should probably do that anyway on the first line.
01:52:39 PM Jul 26th 2012
Thanks muchly!

I notice you pulled the comment I put in about spalling — should I make a new bullet point for spall, fragments, and ricochets? I mention it because I know people who have been struck by such during shooting trips.
05:30:21 PM Jan 6th 2012
I think the new Short Version and the 4 rules at the bottom are a bit redundant — should we delete one or the other?
09:37:30 PM Jan 6th 2012
Rather delete the ones at the bottom. Better to have the summary above than below, neh?
09:21:56 PM Apr 24th 2012

When it comes to safety, especially when dealing with something dangerous like firearms, redundancy is mandatory.
04:29:35 AM Jan 3rd 2012
I dropped a note asking anyone with additions to try to see if there's a way to lump the point in and to use the discussion if possible.
10:34:00 PM Oct 20th 2011
edited by Anorgil
"That bullet will succumb to gravity sooner or later, and when it falls back to Earth it will be moving at at least its terminal velocity..."

Terminal velocity is the speed at which acceleration due to gravity is cancelled out by deceleration due to air friction; nothing can go faster than terminal velocity.

I vote to delete "at least" from the above quote in the interest of scientific accuracy.
10:42:25 PM Oct 20th 2011
Well, nothing originally at rest and released in freefall can go faster than terminal velocity, anyway...
11:08:39 PM Oct 21st 2011
Agree. Things can go faster than terminal velocity, but it requires too much for it to be applicable for gun safety.
06:49:00 PM Nov 13th 2011
If the bullet is fired at an angle that lets it follow a ballistic trajectory, it can hit the ground at much faster than terminal velocity. A ballistic trajectory also means that the bullet is not falling sideways (as free-falling bullets were demonstrate to do in Mythbusters), instead, it will hit point first, making penetration much easier. Also, a bullet could return to earth at less than its terminal velocity if it does not go fast enough to reach the required altitude. There probably aren't many cartridges that will do that, but I'll still wager that .22 CB cap and maybe some other specialty subsonic ammo wont get high enough.
08:55:29 PM Nov 13th 2011
Either way at "least" was still still wrong.
11:01:18 AM Oct 13th 2011
Both in fiction and in real life, I've heard of someone cleaning their gun and accidentally shooting someone. Does this ever actually happen? I mean, I assume that if one is going to clean his/her gun, step one would be unload it.

BTW, if someone is wondering why I mention that it happened in real life, and then asked if it ever happens in real life, the explanation is this: I heard of someone who was shot, suspiciously, by someone who was allegedly cleaning his gun. What I'd like to know is, is this a valid excuse or is it an obvious lie?
06:42:57 PM Nov 13th 2011
It can happen. Some guns require you to pull the trigger for disassembly. Obviously, that can pose a safety hazard if you don't triple check that the gun is unloaded and on't keep it pointed in a safe direction, but it is relatively easy to avert by following proper safety procedures. Some police armories have a plastic barrel filled with sand for the purpose. If somehow a round is chambered when the step where the trigger is pulled is reached, the bullet will simply stop in the sand.
07:09:35 AM Jul 29th 2011
Maybe this is just my OCD, but I can't handle the "always treat it like it's loaded" rule. If a gun is loaded, I'll unload it. If I continue to think of it as loaded, I'll repeatedly attempt to unload it until, like a SIMS character, I starve to death.
07:39:24 AM Jul 29th 2011
Maybe if you take it so literally to the point of absurdity and missing the point, yeah.
08:01:52 AM Jul 29th 2011
The point of that rule is to build the habit of always treating it as loaded, the same way you're always supposed to wear a seat belt. That way, you have to remember to load it, instead of unload it.
09:10:34 PM Apr 24th 2012
edited by datubaman
If you cannot handle that rule, then I would recommend that you don't touch a gun. The point of it is to reinforce the rule of "don't point a gun at anything that you do not intend to kill or destroy." So, if you always treat a gun as if it is loaded, you lessen the chances of you accidentally shooting Marvin in the face.
02:25:57 AM Aug 6th 2012
edited by AnoSa
In fact, the version of the Short Version I got—from certified instructors—was that The Gun Is Always Loaded And The Safety Always Off. If your OCD habits are that bad, just skip the attempting to unload part (consider taking up dry firing as your confirmation method) and then handle it as if it was still loaded anyway since part of the point of that is because...well, if somebody missed you making a distinct point of there being no more bullets left, they would be understandably freaked if you pointed the gun at them.

And they might be carrying a loaded gun, with reflexes that are quite pro-survival...for them. Not for you.

This also folds into why you always handle it like the safety is off: very few safeties are going to be recognized as on fast enough to prevent such a response. In point of fact, given the number of times obviously toy guns have been insufficiently obvious, it's safe to say that it is not worth betting that somebody will realize your safety is on before they can pull the trigger of their gun.

It doesn't help that safeties are known to fail, even on modern firearms. The only really effective safety is to never point a firearm at something you aren't willing to shoot, possibly fatally—to use the grey gelatin between your ears.
02:15:51 AM Jun 19th 2011
Are these rules from an official list? Because otherwise I'd add a rule I personally invented "When your drunk friend starts deliberately violating the rules you know he knows, it's time to go home."
10:09:01 AM Jul 4th 2011
That appears to be a combination of 5.3 and 5.5
08:03:11 AM Jul 29th 2011
They're not official, this page was mainly written because we have tropes that depend on it. Rather than bury a set of rule in the description, or send them off site for the rules, a useful notes was made.
06:12:57 AM Mar 18th 2011
"Do nothing with a gun that you would not do without a gun."

That's from section two. I... I just don't understand it. What principle is it meant to be explaining?
12:24:45 AM Mar 29th 2011
I'm not quite sure myself. Possibly it means "Don't do anything stupid and dangerous (pick fights, wander around in high-crime areas displaying conspicuous wealth, etc) just because you're armed." Remember that the consequences for even a perfectly clean self-defense shooting are serious, and should be avoided if at all possible.

01:04:58 AM Apr 17th 2011
I would not shoot without a gun. How then do I shoot with a gun? I do not understand this rule!
07:38:53 AM Apr 25th 2011
edited by EvilestTim
Don't go to places or do things you only feel secure doing because you have a weapon; the first rule of winning a gunfight is not to get into one. The gun is for protecting you, not for putting you in situations where you need it to protect you.
06:36:45 AM Apr 27th 2011
Also, allow for the possibility that your gun will develop a fault which stops it firing until you can dismantle it.
09:32:06 AM Apr 27th 2011
That's exactly what it means, "Don't believe that having a gun makes you invincible."
08:02:22 AM Jul 29th 2011
Do you think we should change it?
11:05:44 AM Oct 13th 2011
Either change it or remove it. Definitely.
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