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Artistic License – Gun Safety

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Kojak: Hey, Meathead, tell us what's written on the barrel of your gun.
Starsky: It says, hu, "Hold by the other end."
The Benny Hill Show, "Murder on the Oregon Express"

Guns are dangerous things; they're designed with the primary purpose of using a projectile to injure or kill whatever it's fired at. 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 anybody who wants to use a firearm should know. There are considered to be Four Rules of Gun Safety:

  1. Always treat every gun as if it's loaded.
    • 1½. Physically check the gun to verify it actually is unloaded and doesn't have a round chamberednote , and then continue to treat it like it is anyway.
    • 1¾. No matter how cool you think it looks, do not rack the gun (thus chambering a round) unless you intend to use it immediately.
  2. Never point a gun at something you do not intend to shoot and destroy. note 
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger and outside the trigger guard until you are in position and ready to shoot.
  4. Always be aware of who or what your target is, and who or what is around and behind it. note 

It requires vigilance to be aware of these rules at all times. Even an expert can make a serious (and possibly fatal) 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, ignore 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 whom 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 is when the handling of a weapon is understood to be a mistake because it is handled by people who don't know any better. If this is done for comedic purposes it's Juggling Loaded Guns. If a major accident occurs due to sloppy handling, 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 is always a case of this, as are Pants-Positive Safety and Gun Twirling.

May also be the writer hinting that a character isn't as professional as he should be.

See Guns Do Not Work That Way, for links to Tropes of the most common offenders.

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.

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Other Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • 7 Seeds:
    • Averted by (most) of the Team Summer A candidates. Part of their education included guns and how to properly use and maintain them, with most of Team Summer A itself following the rules well. Botan, from Team Summer B, is also very concerned about gun safety and knows the rules, due to being a former police officer. There are some candidates that took gun maintenance not that seriously and paid the price.
    • Played straight during the Minor Heat arc, when the Summer teams are exploring an old army ship. Semimaru decides to hold onto one of the guns and thinks of himself as looking really cool with it, although the guns have been lying around, abandoned and rusting, for an unknown amount of time. When he shoots the badly maintained gun in a reflex situation the bullet almost falls out of the shaft and doesn't actually get fired, meaning he just barely avoided shooting Ryo. He learns his lesson fast.
  • 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 that takes years to sort out (as well as being an adult). Doubly impressive considering being shot is only really a mild annoyance in their realm. Perhaps it wonders into Fridge Brilliance territory, they've accidentally shot themselves enough times to have learned how not to do it.
  • Appare-Ranman!: Dylan and TJ engage in a wild gun battle in the middle of a crowded banquet room. The fact that this is a relatively light-hearted show is the only reason that multiple bystanders weren't killed.
  • 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.
  • Assassination Classroom:
    • Gastro is a professional assassin who specializes in firearms. He's constantly seen sticking the barrel of a loaded gun into his 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.
    • This trope is otherwise averted in the series; Koro-sensei even tells the students in the eponymous classroom to be careful with the BB bullets they're using or they might shoot an eye out.
  • 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.
  • Cat Planet Cuties: 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.
  • Averted in City Hunter, as the author took the pain to go to the 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 inexperienced amateur (a particular incident even concludes 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.
  • 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. Downplayed, at least, in that his finger wasn't on the trigger. He also scratches his hair using the muzzle of his gun in episode 2. He also lights a cigarette with a flamethrower.
  • Death Note:
    • A gun is fired that had been loaded with blanks. At point-blank range. Nothing happens to the character, but in real life, it would have blinded him permanently and left him needing immediate medical attention.
    • Also, Mello holsters his gun (literally) in the front of his tight leather pants. Similarly, Matt places a gun temporarily down the collar of his vest, though at least that one was only a smoke gun.
  • 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.
  • Full Metal Panic!:
    • 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.
  • 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. A character is shown running around waving his gun wildly with his finger on the trigger. This act is 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.
  • Gunslinger Girl: The girls are noticeably lax about gun safety, and handguns show up in a few waistbands, but the focus is given to the importance of proper handling in a particular scene on the firing range. Henrietta is in a firing range when her pistol jams after a misfire, and she looks down the barrel of her pistol to investigate the issue — which is extra bad since her cyborg implants leave her eyes as basically her only weak points. Raballo grabs the gun away and chews her out, and then switches to berating Jose for not training her properly.
  • 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).
  • When Alucard unleashes his full power in the eighth volume of Hellsing, neither of the armies surrounding him pays any heed to the fact that any rounds fired at Alucard, if they miss, will kill other people trying to stop Alucard. However, it's obvious that they're firing in a blind panic as much as under orders, and it's rendered moot once Alucard finishes releasing the level 0 seal and kills all of them.
  • Highschool 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 the main characters, only Rule of Cool prevents I Just Shot Marvin in the Face.
    • Played Straight, Justified, 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 the girl's battle rifle, firing at the horde of zombies surrounding another member of their group. Justified 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 breast movement and flips.
  • Mostly averted in I Am a Hero. There's some Reckless Gun Usage and an unnerving scene where Hiromi points a gun at Oda, although she gets called out on it. Characters who actually know how to use firearms generally use them as safely as possible given the circumstances, including taking into account things that series like this usually ignore because of Rule of Cool (like the noise from a gunshot in an enclosed space, and the fouling that would inevitably come from firing a shotgun so much).
  • Ino-Head Gargoyle: As a cop, Saejima should really know better than to twirl his pistol or stick it in his pants.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • Stardust Crusaders: Hol Horse was pretty reckless with his gun when introduced, twirling it around, tossing it from one hand to the other, and even firing it at random. Granted, his gun is actually his Stand, Emperor, capable of shooting bullets that are a part of it thus letting him control them, and the random firing was so his partner could use his Stand's ability to its fullest, but it's still a wonder how he didn't shoot a random bystander. Let's not forget how, despite shilling himself as a lethal marksman with complete control of his gun's bullets, he couldn't hit the broad side of a barn.
    • Golden Wind: Guido Mista is mostly safe with his gun, making sure to point it only at people he sees as his enemy, except for how he holsters it in his pants and keeps extra bullets in his hat. Sure, his Stand Sex Pistols lets him redirect his bullets' trajectory, so in theory he could use it to prevent a misfire, but it's still reckless of him.
  • In Mission: Yozakura Family: After being taken to the Yozakura mansion, Taiyo tries to rationalize his situation by thinking it's a prank show and grabs a nearby gun thinking it's a water gun. He then points it into the air and squeezes the trigger, putting a hole in the ceiling in the process. As any gun users would know, it's important to assume that every gun is real and every gun is loaded, as Shinzo tries to tell him before that happens.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Averted in School-Live! where Kurumi salvages a gun from the crashed rescue helicopter. Miki immediately threw it away, pointing out that none of them know how to properly use a gun and it would pose a greater threat to the girls than the zombies.
  • 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.
  • Sound of the Sky:
    • 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.
  • Mixed with Mundane Made Awesome and BFG in a throwaway gag from Super Dimension Fortress Macross — In said gag, a Valkyrie pilot uses his 122mm Gatling gunpod to light a cigarette for a Zentradi soldier working with the UN Spacy. Outside of the obvious problem with this... how was he even expecting to light the damn thing rather than just turn it into a blizzard of shredded tobacco?
  • 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 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.
  • 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.

    Comic Books 
  • Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. (1968): A downplayed example, but the actors and crew who aid Nick Fury against the villainous Centurius apparently had live ammunition on their movie set. They use the film's guns to fight and defeat Centurius's servants and monstrous creatures.
  • 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 & 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 neutralize the weapon, instead of risking alerting any guards pursuing him.

    Fan Works 
  • In The Accidental Animagus, Professor Quirrell brings an unloaded shotgun to his Defence Against the Dark Arts class and waves it around, causing the Muggle-raised students to panic. This is done intentionally by him, as he uses the experience to demonstrate to the wizard-raised children how dangerous non-magical weaponry is.
  • Justified in ARTICLE 2, where Major Shane Doran scratches his head with a loaded M9. Both the character and the author are Marines and would know proper gun safety, and Shane is so psychologically broken down by that point that he literally doesn't care whether he lives or dies.
  • 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.
  • Pointedly averted in Doing It Right This Time when Shinji is handling a rifle for the first time. Misato gives him a thorough briefing on correct firearms handling, including a deliberate mistake in the form of a blank round in the chamber of the supposedly unloaded weapon, as an object lesson about treating guns as loaded until proven otherwise; if he did do something dumb and cause a negligent discharge he'd have got a good scare, but probably not done any real harm.
  • In Emergence, while at a firing range, Ruby innocently points a rifle at Sam and Joe while her finger is on the trigger. They freak out and warn her to never do that again.
  • 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.
  • Averted fully in Freedom Dies With Me, as protagonist Traveller makes it a point to unload and flick the saftey on his pistol whenever outside of combat. Justified, as guns like his do not exist in Avalice, none of the trio of girls he's with are reaching their pre-teens and gunshot wounds are supposedly much harder to treat due to that lack of knowledge. This is used as a plot point later, of course.
  • In NUMB3RS story I Am Legend (Dream Brother), Callum has Don shoot himself in the head to keep Charlie safe and Don survives. In real life, shooting a blank in close range would be fatal.
  • 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.
  • Played with in ToyHammer. The cultists who introduce the human-sized gun onto the story have no idea how to fire it and shooting it Gangsta Style quickly jams it. When Vincent picks it up he 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).
  • 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 whom she's aiming at. 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.
  • In the Highschool of the Dead fanfic World of the Dead, at one point Saya Takagi places a Luger P08 into their mouth, pointing upwards, and pulls the trigger. Not out of a truly suicidal notion, but just to prove a point. It's seconds later revealed to be unloaded, but that's still unaccountably reckless.

    Films — Animation 
  • Lampshaded and Parodied in Aladdin and the King of Thieves when the Genie transforms into an entire SWAT team and surrounds the titular king, with all of his (their?) guns trained on him.
    Genie: Do not attempt to move or we'll be shooting ourselves.
  • In Asterix Versus Caesar, the Roman Legion places the target for spear practice directly in front of an open door. An overpowered throw by Obelix goes through the target, into the kitchen, and barely misses the cook.
  • In Batman: Assault on Arkham, Deadshot bluffs The Joker (who is holding him at gunpoint) by calmly marching up until the gun is right at his own head and telling Joker that he's out of ammo and that after he fires and nothing happens, he'll get his head beaten in. Joker, lunatic that he is, looks down the gun barrel to confirm that there actually is a bullet in the chamber and fires into the ceiling (which gives Deadshot an opening to sucker-punch him).
  • In Beauty and the Beast, no-one fails gun safety like Gaston! It's a mystery why he's considered the local paragon of manliness rather than a public menace.
    • Gaston declares his intent to marry Belle by pointing his gun at her. Not a good idea. One could argue 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; in any case, one of the primary rules of gun safety is to always treat a gun as though it's loaded.
    • This is in addition to the fact that his first scene shows him birding in the middle of town, where any missed shot could end up hitting someone down the street (Lefou claims that Gaston never misses, which would make this safer in theory, but in practice any gun user should allow for possibility of missing and make sure there isn't anything they don't want hurt or damaged in the general direction they're pointing the weapon, no matter how good a shot they are). Not missing also doesn't help if the bullet goes through the target.
  • In Megamind, 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.
  • In Disney's Robin Hood, the prison guard Trigger is none-too-careful on aiming Old Betsy, his not-so-trusty crossbow. 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 Old 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.
    Sheriff: Wait a minute. Is the safety on Old Betsy?
    Trigger: [while patting the crossbow] You bet it is, sheriff.
    Sheriff: That's what I'm afraid of. You go first!
  • The Simpsons Movie:
    • Chief Wiggum is eating donuts off the barrel of his gun with his finger in the trigger and the barrel pointed at his head. That's: 1) having food in contact with the metal, which almost certainly has gunpowder residue and a protective coating, 2) creating the risk of donut crumbs and glaze/icing fouling up the piece unless he cleans it afterwards, 3) not paying attention to where his pistol is aimed, 4) aiming the pistol at himself, and of course 5) having his finger on the trigger. To top it off, he accidentally discharges the gun, shooting a hole in the brim of his hat, and doesn't learn from his error, saying only "Whoa, that was close!" before continuing to eat.
    • Homer is extremely lucky that Russ Cargill doesn't discharge his shotgun after Maggie pushes a boulder onto his head. Especially when she is already a proficient firearm user who should be able to evaluate the potential flow-on effects of her actions.
  • Wreck-It Ralph: Averted by Calhoun. Watch her trigger finger closely: if not intending to fire it's outside the trigger guard. She clearly checks her sidearm's mag before entry into Sugar Rush.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In 8 Mile B-Rabbit's friend Cheddar Bob pulls his gun (from the waist of his pants) and recklessly waves it to scare off​ some people. He then puts the gun back into the waist of his pants... with his finger still on the trigger. He shoots himself in the leg.
  • In Adopting Terror, the gun shop owner encourages Tim to "look down the barrel" of the pistol being sold.
  • Purposefully exaggerated in one scene from The A-Team film: A group of CIA agents grab Brock 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 and fumbling with the gun so badly that Pike takes pity on the guy and begins walking the agent through how to load and prepare his gun for use. Then the agent starts fiddling with a Hollywood Silencer, tries to put it on the wrong way, (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 his partner 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 eventually 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 something of a Psychopathic Manchild and is constantly criticized by nearly every character in the film for being a desk jockey with little to no real world experience, looks seriously disturbed by the morons on his team. Finally, let us remind you again that this is all going on in a moving vehicle, adding to the likelihood of a Marvin moment happening when someone gets startled by, say, a bump in the road or the car having to come to a sudden stop.
    Brock Pike: You've handled a gun like that before? And you're still alive? That's amazing to me.
  • 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.
  • Bad Boys II:
    • There's 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. Doubles as a meta-example: the actor playing the boy was deliberately not told that someone would pull a gun on him in the scene (and consequently was not given the opportunity to see for himself that the weapon was unloaded and/or a nonfunctioning prop) so that his surprise and fear in the scene would be genuine. Needless to say, this violates any number of rules of on-set safety.
    • Also an earlier scene in which Marcus negligently discharges a machine gun in Mike's car while they are in a high speed chase.
  • In Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, a rookie police officer panics when seeing Batman for the first time, and fires wildly at the vigilante, almost shooting his partner in the face. Said partner is not amused.
    Officer Mazzuccheli: You almost took my face off! How about you don't shoot the good guys, huh?
  • 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 sapient, even though Terl knows for a fact humans once had a capable military (even if it was vastly inferior to their own).
  • 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.note  In this particular instance, though, the book details how the operator in question did clear the weapon by removing the magazine, ejecting the chambered round, and pulled the trigger so the hammer was down. The M16 rifle and its derivatives actually are mechanically incapable of being put on safe with the hammer down. But the officer in question had no way of knowing that, hence the confrontation.
  • In Blastfighter, the Evil Poachers are supposedly experienced hunters, but they make rookie mistakes such as gesticulating with their weapons, running and jumping fallen logs while carrying loaded guns, etc.
  • 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.
  • Curiously, this trope is invoked yet subtly averted in Bram Stoker's Dracula, where Lord Holmwood threatens Professor Van Helsing with a 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.
  • 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.
  • The final act of Child's Play 3 revolves around a war game of a Military School being sabotaged by Chucky switching the paint rounds with live ammunition. All guns that have been modified to fire simulated ammunition cannot fire live rounds without being changed back. As well, the film commits the typical sin of portraying a paintball game with no protective equipment such as goggles.
  • City Slickers II: 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.
  • In Constantine, when attacked by the Scavengers of the Damned, Angela pulls out her pistol and points it behind her, ending at Constantine's crotch. It may not just have been Guns Are Worthless that made him say "That's really not going to help".
  • Used rather hilariously in Cutthroat Island, where after having sex Morgan's lover reveals that he knows about her identity as a pirate and pulls a pistol on her announcing that he is going to turn her in for the bounty on her head. She then reveals that she already found and emptied his pistol by "taking his balls". The man then checks this by peering down the barrel of his cocked and ready to fire gun.
  • The Dark Knight:
    • Harvey Dent has a devil-may-care attitude toward gun-safety even before he gets half of his face blown off in that warehouse. He clearly 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 shit, and at one point causes several accidental discharges while stumbling around in a daze, but it only makes him laugh.
  • Deadpool: Deadpool/Wade Wilson is ironically the one who calls out Blind Al for pointing a Steyr AUG right at him during their Lock-and-Load Montage, warning her that he's downrange. Poolboy himself isn't in danger because of his Healing Factor, but he is an experienced Special Forces operator and professional mercenary, and he generally follows most of the firearms safety rules where appropriate.
  • Death Ring: Ms. Ling, a Professional Killer, covers Matt with a shotgun held so that the stock is cupped in her elbow rather than against her shoulder. Later Matt, an ex-Green Beret One-Man Army, fires an AK-47 on full auto while holding it Gangsta Style.
  • Subverted via an apparent aversion in Dog Day Afternoon. At the end, the FBI agent driving the vehicle asks Sal to lower his gun while he's driving so it won't cause an injury in case it goes off if they go over a bump. In actuality, he does it so he can have the advantage on Sal when he draws his own hidden gun and fatally shoots him.
  • Eight Legged Freaks:
    • Most people of Prosperity obviously never learned how to properly handle a loaded gun, but the mall's janitor is easily the worst offender. When he's given Lee Harvey Oswald's rifle, he constantly keeps his finger on the trigger and the gun itself pointed at whoever's currently standing in front of him. Sam has to actually push the barrel out of her face so they can talk when she turns around to him.
    • While the survivors are escaping in the mine tunnels, at one point a man tosses his loaded crossbow at the sheriff so she can shoot a giant spider, while they are a tight group in an enclosed space. It's unclear why he has to take the risk of tossing the crossbow in the first place rather than making the shot himself beyond The Main Characters Do Everything; she might have a clearer shot from her spot, but it's not evident at all.
  • The Fifth Element:
    • Korben Dallas uses this trope to his advantage. Korben is held at gunpoint by a thug; he 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.
    • Later, Korben 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.
  • Get Smart:
    • Agent 99 is trying to show Max why he should listen to her. 99 fortunately shows good discipline by not holding her finger on the trigger. Anne Hathaway ad-libbed the scene.
      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".
    • 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 unsafe pistol into his belt, at which point the gun goes off. Fortunately, the bullet doesn't hit anything.
  • Goodfellas:
    • Karen Hill 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.
    • The sociopathic Tommy DeVito 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, 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 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 assaulted her just a few minutes ago.
  • 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 Hard Target, Uncle Douvee—an experienced hunter and woodsman—chambers a shell in a pump-action shotgun and then tosses it across the room for Chance to catch.
  • In Hard to Kill (and pretty much constantly throughout Steven Seagal's filmography, including Above the Law (1988) and both Under Siege films), Mason Storm (a veteran member of the LAPD) does a press check of his .45 by touching the front of the gun's slide from under the barrel (where the guide rod is) and pushing back the slide. This is a classic style of checking that modern weapon instructors seriously frown upon because it has a chance of blowing your finger (or even half of your hand) off if the gun accidentally discharges.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Hobo with a Shotgun: What kind of a pawn shop keeps a loaded shotgun where anyone can grab it? Then again, considering the type of movie this is...
  • 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. Notably the only character who explicitly does have real firearms training is Angel, who handles them properly and safely.
  • 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.note 
  • 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.
  • Indiana Jones:
    • 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).
    • Later, in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, a female SS officer orders her fellow Nazis to go take care of the Jones boys, waving her gun around in the air, and of course pointing it at her fellow SS officers in the process.
  • 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'.
  • I, Robot:
    • During the opening, Detective Spooner wakes up, pulls a gun out from under his pillow, and scratches his head with it. With his finger on the trigger. This is one of the hints that Det Spooner is suicidal due to Survivor's Guilt, when he would otherwise know not to use a gun this way.
    • During the climax, Dr Calvin shoots a robot next to Det Spooner... with her eyes closed. She is immediately scolded by Spooner and the nearby pedestrian, for firing her gun in a way that might have hit them.
  • James Bond:
    • 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 The Man with the Golden Gun, Scaramanga is shown fondling his mistress with the barrel of his gun during foreplay. This is probably a contributing factor in why she is terrified of him and tries to convince Bond to kill him for her.
    • In Licence to Kill, Q supplies Bond with a sniper rifle disguised as a camera. At one point in the assembly of the gun, Bond is seen pointing the barrel of the rifle, which he had personally loaded seconds before, at himself. Special points to Q for building a gun that is loaded during the assembly process rather than as a separate step after it's been put together.
    • In GoldenEye, Ouromov shoots Defence Minister Mishkin and a guard with Bond's gun. He then removes the magazine and gives it back to Bond, without clearing the chamber. Bond could've easily shot Ouromov with the remaining bullet and killed him.
    • Tomorrow Never Dies has Ax-Crazy villain Carver ordering minions around during the climax while using his P226 like a laser pointer... with his finger on the trigger. Given that he is something of a Bad Boss, it's entirely possible this was intentional.
    • 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.
    • Spectre: While trying to instruct a reluctant Madeleine in handgun self-defense, Bond points his pistol at the wall of the next train compartment over with his finger on the trigger. Madeleine exhibits a good deal more sense when she expertly drops the magazine out of the gun, ejects the round in the chamber (!) and points the pistol at the ceiling before pulling the trigger to decock it.
  • Kick-Ass: Big Daddy teaches his preteen daughter not to be scared of guns by putting her in a bulletproof 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.
  • In The Killer, Ah Jong angrily throws his (presumably loaded; this is John Woo we're talking about here) gun into the back of the Jeep he's stolen after missing his chance to kill the gangster who put a hit out on him. Fortunately, it doesn't go off.
  • Land of Oz: 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.
  • 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 already received proper weapon training. Although he has to be taught how to actually aim the gun instead of just spraying shots in the general direction too, so his training was apparently generally terrible.
  • Lethal Weapon movies: The NRA newsletter had a few articles about the ludicrous lack of basic gun safety shown throughout the series.
    • In Lethal Weapon 3, Murtaugh accidentally fires his pistol 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 after shooting his son's friend. 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?" 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?
  • One scene of Max's family life in Mad Max has him preparing for a shift while his infant son seems to be playing with his service revolver. We know you're mad, but, seriously...
  • In The Man Who Could Work Miracles, Colonel Winstanley, an ex-military man, looks down the barrel of his rifle after Fotheringay turns the barrel solid. A dangerous thing to do, even if he did believe Fotheringay had the power to do what he said.
  • 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.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • In Captain America: The First Avenger, Major Peggy Carter decides to test Steve Rogers' new 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 even shouting a warning. Even considering her mindset at the time, you'd think she would know better, especially considering they're in an enclosed room with lots of potential for ricochet. The fact that bullets hitting vibranium apparently don't ricochet at all isn't an excuse, that is still horribly reckless, as seen by the other soldiers in the room ducking for cover.
    • 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.
      • In addition, all the drones he takes to the Stark Expo have their weapons loaded, despite the fact that they weren't expected to perform any live fire demonstrations. This was probably done by Vanko without his knowledge, but you'd think that somebody involved in transporting them to the expo would have checked.
  • 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 '60s, 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.
  • 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.
    • The novelization tries to handwave it by changing the scene so the firearms only have one shot chambered into each — which is good, except that the movie scene has the military men firing repeatedly at the targets. (Though even having the pistol click empty wouldn't excuse such behavior for a trained shooter — remember, treat every gun as if it were loaded.)
    • 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). First, K shouldn't have given J a gun that he didn't know how to use. (Supplementary material explains that senior agents give Noisy Crickets to new agents as pranks; this is another gun safety violation, never ever give someone a gun they can't control, especially as a prank.) Second, 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 the both of them. And then walks away right through the line of fire.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In Murderers' Row, Matt Helm's primary Bond gadget is a pistol that fires ten seconds after the trigger is pulled. Multiple villains shoot themselves after taking the gun away from him, trying to shoot him with it, and then looking down the barrel while trying to figure out what's wrong.
  • 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.
  • 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 
  • In the climax of The Peacemaker, Dr. Kelly uses DeVoe's pistol as a hammer. Of course, under the circumstances (she has thirty seconds to damage the detonator on an atomic bomb so that it would be reduced from a city-destroying explosion to merely a building-destroying explosion), the possibility that the gun might go off and shoot herself or DeVoe is a secondary problem.
  • 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.
  • Original Pink Panther series:
    • The Return of the Pink Panther. Chief Inspector Dreyfus of the Sûreté (who should certainly know how to handle a gun) twice confuses a realistic gun-cigarette-lighter with his similar-looking pistol, firing the pistol when he thinks he's lighting a cigarette. The first time he does so, he only blackens his face. The second time, he shoots (part of?) his nose off.
    • In The Pink Panther Strikes Again, Professor Fassbender apparently stores his hunting rifles loaded and unsafed. This is revealed when Closeau knocks one over and it goes off, shooting another man in the ass.
  • In Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, in order to get Jack Sparrow to follow his orders, Blackbeard invokes a version of Russian roulette by forcing Jack to choose the pistols (2 out of 6 being loaded) Blackbeard will use on his own daughter Angelica. After the first pistol is an unloaded one, Jack thinks it's all a bluff and picks up another pistol and starts swinging it around. The rest of the crew are smart enough to duck when he points it in their direction, and again after Jack fires it in the air and it turns out to be a loaded one.
  • 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 re-shoot anything, so he was trying to see how much he could get away with — everything, apparently.
  • Point Break. Keanu Reeves' character, unable to bring himself to shoot Patrick Swayze's character to stop him escaping, empties his gun into the sky in the middle of the very heavily populated Los Angeles. Unless bullets are fired precisely vertically, they can fall to earth with sufficient force to kill or injure — a fact that Reeves' character, an FBI agent, should have been well aware of.
  • This is kind of the gimmick for Officer Tackleberry in the Police Academy movies. He's a careless gun nut whose use of firearms borders on Reckless Gun Usage. While there are plenty of examples, the worst is likely in the sixth movie where he mistook his father getting a sandwich for a burglar and fires, but thankfully only hit the milk carton dad is holding. Oh, and his pre-teen son is right next to him. The fact that his accidental discharges always — miraculously — miss does little to teach him a lesson.
  • In the humor/mystery film The Private Eyes, there is the Time Gun, a gun that fires itself every hour on the hour. Its inventor Dr Tart thinks it's brilliant. Everyone else who's been in the same room as the thing when it has an automated discharge thinks it's a negligent homicide waiting to happen. (You'd better turn it off, it's almost three o'clock *BANG*). Throughout the film it keeps going off automatically and nearly hitting people up until the climax, the one time when the titular characters genuinely need to shoot somebody, when it won't fire because it isn't six o'clock yet. Why Inspector Winship hasn't destroyed the stupid thing (he's among the people who think the invention is utterly idiotic) and replaced it with a much safer and more useful regular pistol, or even simply unloaded the thing so that it can't injure people whenever it goes off, is never brought up.note 
  • 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 bump (this is what Vincent blames it on, at least; Jules tells him "the car didn't hit no motherfuckin' bump!"), Vincent accidentally fires the weapon, shooting Marvin in the face and blowing his brains all over the rear window, his clothes, and Jules' hair. 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.
  • The Punisher: 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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, while Boyd is seriously nerved up, staring into the lightless pit that is the lower level, and pointing a rifle towards it. Boyd is so fixated on the dark room that he fails to notice that the way he is holding the gun has resulted in him aiming it directly at Reich's head. Reich looks up, notices how the gun is lined up, and the following exchange takes place:
    Reich: [looks up to see Boyd is pointing the rifle at his head] Captain?
    Boyd: [realizes how the gun is aimed and hastily points his gun away] Sorry.
    Reich: Thank you.
  • Rambo: In First Blood, the Sheriff and his deputies flagrantly ignore any semblance of safety as they hunt Rambo down, to the point that Rambo could have just stayed hidden and let them all take each other out in time.
  • 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.
    • The sequel has Sarah demonstrate a complete lack of trigger discipline when handed a gun, causing her to discharge the weapon seconds after taking possession of it. It's promptly lampshaded when she notes, "No external safety on the SIG, huh?"
  • An aversion is actually a plot point in Renegade Force (also called Rogue Force or Counterforce). An enhanced still from a video recovered at the scene of a commando-style attack reveals a shooter's finger being kept conspicuously outside of the trigger guard, providing further evidence that the attackers are professionally trained... and possibly vigilante cops.
  • RoboCop:
    • 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 not shown putting a magazine into the weapon until 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?!"
    • Meanwhile, Dick Jones is performing a demonstration of the capabilities of ED-209, and calls on Kenny to threaten the robot with Dick's Desert Eagle handgun. Dick loads the magazine into the pistol and hands the weapon to Kenny, who unintentionally then points it at Dick Jones. Then again, Dick Jones is a Corrupt Corporate Executive and RoboCop is a satire film.
    • A minute or so later, further lack of gun safety is demonstrated when Kenny finds out the hard way that the ED-209's guns are loaded with live ammunition — for a demonstration in front of people who have not taken any precautions to ensure that any malfunctions or missed shots won't damage anyone or anything in the room.
    • An even bigger head-scratcher is that in the final scenes of the film, which take place at least two to three months later, the Desert Eagle is still in the room, fully loaded.
  • Salvation Boulevard: Pastor Dan breaks the cardinal rule-you must never point any gun at another person if not intending to fire it. Granted, he likely didn't believe it was loaded, since it's an antique pistol. Nonetheless, the fact it was shows why that's a bad idea.
  • 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's character 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.
  • In Shaun of the Dead, the Winchester rifle of the Winchester bar is on display where anybody can get their hands on it, an active weapon with a shell loaded on the chamber. It's such a blatant disregard for British gun laws that Shawn and Ed argue about whether or not it's deactivated (and Ed says the urban legend that it is not) at the beginning of the movie.
  • Sherlock Holmes:
    • In The Seven-Per-Cent 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.
    • In The Hound of the Baskervilles, Dr. Watson, a veteran of the Afghan Wars, demonstrates to Holmes that he is armed by pointing his revolver at Holmes' head with his finger on the trigger, and then twirls the gun around his finger before putting it away.
  • 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 case he would not be able to prove his innocence), he would have at least killed Johnson, and Memphis would be left unharmed.
  • Shutter Island has Teddy Daniels, a WWII veteran and US Marshall, 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 sees that Cawley is right. Angry, Teddy 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 of the gun. Dr. Cawley tells him to go ahead and fire and Teddy does —then the gun comes apart in his hands, as it's a cap pistol. This is one of the factors that causes Teddy to finally accept that he is a delusional patient who hasn't been a Marshall in years, not since he snapped and became a patient at the island's mental hospital.
  • 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.
  • 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 to do. The guns are obviously loaded, since there's a visible magazine near the back.
    • Another sequence shows the troops surrounding one of the giant, acid-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.
  • Star Wars:
    • Lightsabers in general seem to be immense safety risks in quite a few ways. The design of basically every lightsaber we have seen in canon is a metal cylinder with every relevant button and switch sticking out of it. And it is clipped to the belt like a carabiner so it swings freely, as opposed to being stored in a holster. And there is no trigger guard and (apparently) no safety on the activation switch. See if you can spot the problem here. Granted, Jedi and Sith can probably use the Force to prevent the blade from activating until they need it to. But that doesn't make nearly as much sense as a mechanical safety or trigger guard that won't fail the moment the owner of the lightsaber loses concentration for a moment... Or takes a nap... Or is knocked unconscious... Or dies... And that does nothing to explain lightsaber users who can't use the Force, like General Grievous. Though not explained in the film, the novelization of The Phantom Menace makes it clear that lightsabers have a power switch independent of the blade activator. This makes sense as one would not want to attempt service an energy-based weapon that could not be turned off.
    • Rogue One: On Eadu, when Krennic orders his Death Troopers to execute the imperial scientists who have outlived their usefulness, they do so... with a whole squad of Stormtroopers behind the targets. Sure, they are precise shots unlike said Stormtroopers, and the Empire consider their soldiers expendable, but still...
    • A New Hope:
      • Obi-Wan Kenobi hands Luke a weapon without first explaining how it works. A weapon that will instantly kill or maim you and/or anything and everything else in the room if you even slightly mishandle it. Luke immediately points it at his own face and stares down the business end. And an instant later ignites the thing, very nearly putting it through both his and Obi-Wan's head.
      • Later, Obi-Wan has Luke being shot at by a little droid (which makes Luke flinch in pain every time he is hit) then intentionally puts a blinding face mask on him, even though Luke is only standing a couple feet away from Chewy while holding a plasma sword of death. Even worse is that most expanded universe material and a scene from Attack of the Clones indicates this is how the entire Jedi Order trained their youngest apprentices back before the time of the original films — though at least then they have lower-powered "training" sabers so the kids can't accidentally maim themselves and/or everyone nearby.
    • Completing the lightsaber trifecta, in The Last Jedi Luke tosses away the lightsaber that Rey just gave him (the one he lost all the way back in The Empire Strikes Back) without a care in the world that some native may pick up the damn thing and skewer themselves accidentally — and sure enough, when Rey goes looking for the saber, she finds several Porgs fiddling with it and one of them looking straight down the end the blade deploys from (and in the initial concept, the blade would have shot out and gone straight through the poor thing's head).
    • In Return of the 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.
    • The Force Awakens has Han Solo give a blaster to Rey, without giving instructions concerning how to handle it responsibly. Rey clearly states she knows nothing about firearms other than "you pull the trigger". This has major consequences when Rey later fumbles with the safety of the blaster at a critical moment.
  • In The Suicide Squad, the ornamental guns left in display cases in the presidential manor of Corto Maltese are apparently stored loaded. Harley Quinn lampshades this after she kills President Luna with one, expressing surprise that there was actually a bullet in the gun in the first place.
  • 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."
  • Terminator:
    • The Terminator:
      • In reality, no gun store would keep live ammo within reach of a customer, for reasons that should be obvious even if one hasn't seen the film and knows what becomes of the gun shop owner. Some stores might have empty boxes for sales or special deals on the floor, but gun store employees would pull their own sidearms on any customer who grabbed a box of ammo and had a live weapon in their hands at the same time. Not that a mere sidearm would have any hope of intimidating, much less stopping the Terminator, of course.
      • Kyle Reese steals a gun that has been left on the seat of an open and unlocked police car. One sincerely hopes the incompetent cop who did was summarily fired for his gross stupidity.
    • Terminator 2: Judgment Day: When the T-800 is strafing the police cars with the M134 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.
  • Every possible safety measure is thrown out the window and usually Played for Laughs in many The Three Stooges shorts.
  • Total Recall (1990): 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.
  • Tremors movies:
    • Averted in the original. 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. There is one minor instance of it being played straight — when the Gummers are making use of their Wall of Weapons, the flare gun hanging on the wall is already loaded.
    • Played with in Tremors 2: Aftershocks. 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. For the most part, though, gun safety is followed. In the scene when Burt arrives, he gives Earl a double rifle to replace his M16. Before handing it over, Burt checks to ensure it is unloaded. He then hands it to Earl, who also checks it. Burt also makes a point of cautioning them to make sure they properly brace the rifle against their shoulder before firing "or they'll break your collarbone." Earl tells Burt he will ensure Grady is capable of handling it before letting him use it.
  • Turbulence 3: Heavy Metal: Agent Hayden pulls a gun on Nick, a non-violent criminal guilty of hacking, when she apparently decides to arrest him by herself. Not much later she shoves it in his face to force him to be quiet while she searches his apartment (without any warrant).
  • In Two Hands, Wozza is a professional bank robber who is presumably very familiar with firearms. However, after the robbery, he leaves the loaded guns lying around the lounge room where his kids are playing. And when his young son accidentally fires the shotgun—narrowly missing Jimmy and Deirdre—Wozza's main complaint is that he already has a splitting headache.
  • Ultraviolet. Violet takes down the entire gang that ambushes her, not touching them once and barely moving from where she's standing by dodging the bullets that the idiots who are standing in a circle are shooting at her.
  • Undercover Brother. After Undercover Brother grabs a shotgun away from Conspiracy Brother, he carelessly swings it around, pointing it at Sista Girl, Conspiracy Brother and the Chief. As an expert and experienced combatant he should have known better.
  • In Under Siege, Ryback enters the 'USS Missouri'' with his gun immediately pointed in front of him.
  • Vampire's Kiss, the protagonist grabs a gun at one point and puts the barrel in his mouth to shoot himself, only for it to do nothing to him — thus strengthening his insanity-induced belief that he's become a vampire — because it was loaded with blanks. In reality, a blank gun that close to someone would still do damage, because it still has that impressive muzzle flash that will quite happily burn anything it comes in contact with.
  • 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. It should be noted that this particular bit of foolishness is not in the comic, either.
  • 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. In the commentary, the director points out things like how Ryan Phillippe keeps his finger off the trigger whenever he's not pointing his gun at someone he wants to shoot.
  • 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.
  • Who's Singing Over There?: The Hunter shows surprisingly little concern over taking a loaded rifle onto a bus. Late in the movie, that earns the bus a new hole in the roof, and the hunter a long walk to his destination.
  • 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-ear-old, handle a weapon without supervision once they had time to show her what to do.

  • Lone Wolf: In book 10, The Dungeons of Torgar, Lone Wolf can end up interrogated by Eruan soldiers who suspect that he is a spy. So, he has to properly answer questions while sitting at a table and facing an officer... with a crossbow aimed at his back. Now, they certainly aren't used to people with Super-Reflexes capable of springing away before the bolt even hit, but that still means the officer is willingly putting himself straight into the trajectory of a deadly projectile, and it's indeed possible for him to get hit in a path where the interrogation turns badly.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Young gang member Fitz from Ghost Story needs to dispose of several assault weapons, quickly. He decides to hide them in a huge snow mound — but he still takes some precious seconds to remove the magazines, so that if someone happens to find the guns, they won't get hurt by accident.
  • In InCryptid, Antimony always uses throwing knifes rather than guns because she sometimes uses rollerblading and circus arts in combat and can't trust that her guns wouldn't misfire. (Her dancer sister Verity also prefers knives; although she never mentions it, this is probably why.) Also, whenever characters who are usually noncombatants are drawn into action, they will be handed knives rather than guns because there isn't enough time to teach them proper gun safety.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. Stephenson even credits someone in the acknowledgments as his gun safety resources.
  • Repairman Jack:
    • 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.
  • Sherlock Holmes is in the habit of using the wall of his (rented) living room for target practice. While the VR (Victoria Regina) he has shot into the wall is nicely patriotic, the walls of a typical civilian residence are not guaranteed to be sturdy enough to be an effective backstop, and no mention is ever made of Holmes having the wall reinforced. Oddly, retired Army surgeon Watson only mentions this as part of a list of examples describing how messy Holmes' quarters are, with no reference to the dangers such a habit might bring to anyone in the next room. note 
  • In an Older Than Radio example, Ivan Turgenev's A Sportsman's Sketches have the narrator meet a guy with a black handkerchief around his head. The guy explains that he once took an inexperienced friend to hunt. The friend decided to play with his gun during a break, so now the man is missing a finger and his chin.
  • 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.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek: The Original Series: In the novel "Child of Two Worlds" a group of Klingons invade the USS Enterprise. Reaching engineering one of the raiding party takes a shot at Chief Engineer Barry and promptly gets dressed down by his leader Lieutenant Guras for firing recklessly near the warp core.
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation: Defied in the "Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual." The manual states that the ship's main computer is in continual contact with all shipboard weapons and prevent unauthorized use. This includes preventing the weapons being used at higher settings or by unauthorized personnel. This was seen in the episode "A Matter of Time" as the Enterprise computer deactivates a stolen hand phaser once it regains contact with the weapon.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • 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.
    • Also defied in the X-Wing Series novel "The Krytos Trap" in that Jedi built their lightsabers so that one had to hit the power button twice to shut it down. Discovering his grandfather's lightsaber, Corran quickly realizes a double hit of the power button was required to shut down the lightsaber, and also realizes it was so that if the power button was inadvertently hit once during lightsaber combat the blade wouldn't unexpectedly disappear.
    • 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.
    • In Han Solo's Revenge, with a scene where Han (who is an experienced gunman) deliberately removes the trigger guard from his weapon. 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. This is an actual real-world technique, as some weapons intended for use in cold climates can have the trigger guard removed or an oversize "winter" trigger that just below the guard fitted, to allow use while wearing bulky gloves.
  • Discussed in Jean Johnson's Theirs Not to Reason Why. The military is creating an impossibly powerful space laser, with an overshoot range measured in light years. Ia points out that only a powerful precognitive can be confident that nothing will be destroyed by traveling into where the beam will be in the coming months/years. Conveniently, Ia happens to be such a powerful precognitive, and uses this as a persuasive argument as to why she is uniquely qualified to command the ship which carries the laser. (Arguably Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: even with an overshoot range that long, space is so empty that a stray shot is infinitely more likely to not hit anything at all.)
  • This Book Is Full of Spiders: Seriously, Dude, Don't Touch It lampshades the trope a few times due to extremely incompetent people carrying guns around.
    • When John anticipates that getting into an elevator with David and the Creepy Child was a bad idea, he runs up the staircase instead and positions himself in front of the door with a shotgun in case she's turned into an Eldritch Abomination during the ride up. When the doors open, he's pointing his gun directly at David's face.
    • Amy tells the zombie movie geeks that they have no business carrying guns around because they keep unwittingly pointing them at each other. One of them has a camera mounted to the barrel of his gun, and he points the gun to his face to deliver a message to the camera. At another point, Amy mentally notes how he's pointed his combination gun/camera directly at the back of the head of the person in front of him.
  • 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".
  • Vorkosigan Saga:
    • 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.
    • Earlier, in The Warrior's Apprentice, Miles does some extremely unsafe handling of a weapon — arguably, to prove how sloppy his captured mercenary forces are about gun safety, since they're storing their weapons loaded, but even so, he ends up firing from the hip in the general direction of the sloppy mercs' Captain. This is admittedly before he goes through his training at the Barrayaran Service Academy, but it's still a very dangerous way to make a point!
  • 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.
  • 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 — while several students do behave recklessly with firearms (Tinkertrain and Flashbang come to mind, as does Buck Swift), the school authorities invariably land on them like an anvil if they catch them at it.

  • DJ Snake & Lil Jon's Turn Down For What features a police officer at a rave pointing his gun casually at several peoples' faces in a "Whatever" kind of pose.
  • The ''Another World'' PV by GACKT features all of the following:
    • Gangsta Style at 0:07-09 foreshadowing its later use
    • 1:20-1:21 throws "never point a gun at someone you're not willing to kill" out the window with some casual gun waving between friends
    • 1:24, the guy hiding out in the phone booth waiting to shoot has his finger within the trigger guard
    • 1:29, same guy points it at his friend walking through the door, and
    • 1:31-33, the one walking through the door pulls his gun and lightly smacks his face with it, WHILE POINTED DOWN THROUGH HIS NECK and brings it up to his head. With his finger on the trigger. While the other shaky nervous guy aims his up at his head and chest with no control on aim.
    • 1:34, throwing the gun to the shaking guy trying to go for juggling guns
    • 1:39, nervous guy goes running with his gun pointed up toward his head
    • 2:39-2:45, the gangsta style foreshadowed in the open — though actually averted in the final scene with Gackt as, before firing, he brings them into proper position and aims. This is possibly Fridge Brilliance in that Gackt actually does have firearms training in Real Life.
  • Top of the Pops 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.
  • Alestorm's ''The Battle Of Cape Fear River'' features the crew finding the pistols of Captain Blackbeard and promptly starting to kill each other with them, ending up as ghosts performing at Blackbeard's party. Christopher Bowes is the last one standing when the treasure appears, and attempts to use one of the captain's pepperboxes as hammers to open the chest, causing it to discharge right into him.

    Tabletop Games 
  • d20 Modern: The adventure No Man's Land takes place in the titular World War One exhibit, which is full of still-active weapons on display a la Demolition Man. The adventure has a note for the Game Master noting that museum weapons are normally deactivated, but either just accept this as part of living in an action-movie world or justify it as a side effect of the necromancer that is that main villain of the adventure doing his thing.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • One joke miniature has a pair of Gretchin scavenging a gun from a corpse — one looking down the barrel and another about to try the trigger to see if it works. Of course, given the setting and the creatures in question, thirty seconds later the one at the trigger would probably be going through the other Gretchin's pockets to see if he had anything particularly shiny.
    • Given that Orks are as likely to bash you with a gun as shoot you, it is implicit that many an unintentional discharge may have occurred.
  • Malifaux: The swamp gremlins often behave similar to gretchins, with added Louisiana bayou stereotyping. One gremlin is prominently featured in art, which may have made into the miniature, looking right down his gun's bore from the muzzle end.
  • Most tabletop gaming miniatures armed with ranged weapons are sculpted with their finger on the trigger. The problem is that they are not all sculpted in a firing pose. The guy could be standing looking at a map in one hand with a carbine in the other hand pointed right at his foot, finger wrapped right around the trigger (which is poor technique) looking very much like he's pulling it. Occasionally there is an exception, such as Hasslefree Miniatures in the UK, which are great for trigger discipline, perhaps ironically.

  • Ani: When Vader's lightsaber doesn't work, he puts it up to his eye and hits it. Two imperial officers freak out and take it from him.

    Web Animation 
  • 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 in the ability to lower your weapon without having to stare at the ground 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.

  • 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.
  • 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?
  • 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 nonetheless.
  • Grrl Power: After Sydney reads up on gun safety, she asks why a bunch of superheroes fully capable of blowing up tanks with a finger carry guns. Maxima demonstrates the intimidation value when she points first her finger, which she can zap things with, then a handgun at Sydney, who then immediately runs for cover. In the next strip, it's lampshaded that you're never supposed to point a gun at something you don't intend to shoot; even if you know it's unloaded, you might be wrong (even more so in a world with teleportation and other weird powers). Maxima only gets away with it because if by some improbable sequence of events the gun does go off, she can catch the bullet before anyone is hurt. With everyone else in Archon, it's explicitly stated that until recruits have demonstrated the ability to maintain and safely handle a firearm, they are not allowed access to ammunition (and are only allowed to handle the unloaded guns while supervised).
  • Homestuck has Jade Harley, a character whose grandfather will never let her ever leave the house without at least a sniper rifle on handy, and often wants her packing more than that. Considering she lives on a remote private island, it's excess upon excess.
  • 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 than 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. Of course, Schlock is a Nigh-Invulnerable Blob Monster whose eyes are the only organ that is distinct enough to be properly damaged, and has walked off plasma cannon injuries before; it's sort of unsurprising that he would develop a lax attitude towards gun safety because most weapons aren't particularly dangerous for him.
  • 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.


    Web Videos 
  • In this video by In Range TV, one of the presenters points two pistols at the camera and says "There's nobody behind the camera that we care about, so don't worry." (At about the 55-second mark).
  • FPSRussia was notorious for prioritizing Rule of Cool over safety, especially when it came to his love for filling things with Tannerite and blowing them up from a few meters away. Miraculously he was never injured (though he came very, very close), but a cameraman had to go to the hospital after taking shrapnel from a refrigerator to the leg. See here for some highlights. These shenanigans plus his "unprecedented arsenal" made him a constant target for raids by the federal government, until they eventually found some weed in his house and had their excuse to confiscate everything. It's worth noting that he was fully aware of how dangerous this was and usually had a medical team standing around off-camera. In one podcast where the conversation was about a man who got his leg lopped off shooting at an explosive-filled lawnmower at close range, FPSRussia pointed out that while he did similarly stupid stuff he was getting paid for it, and would never do such insanely dangerous stunts just for fun.
  • Iraqveteran8888 has a regular series on gun facts, in which they discuss safety, and once admit that they didn't practice safety to the degree they should, and are going to improve their commitment to gun safety. They also have their regular Gun Gripes series, in which they go on for some time about safety problems, be it with badly maintained guns, lack of training, lack of common sense, lack of responsibility, and utter horror stories of people handling guns dangerously right in the presenter's faces.
    • Federal agents have actually been known to pick up guns at ranges and point directly at the floor right in front of them and put a big hole in the floor... Wall... Ceiling...
    • There are always people in the darker corners of American gun culture which will claim to have been former military or police, or simply "shooting rabbits since I was 12." They typically have the muzzle discipline of a five-year-old.
    • A detective was carrying a 1911 cocked and locked, with a round in the chamber, and had to use a public restroom. He hung his pistol up on the coat hook on the door by the trigger guard. He didn't notice the safety had been pushed off, so when he retrieved the gun he grabbed it by the butt and ended up pushing the trigger against the coathook, the pistol bump-fired and emptied itself into the ceiling.
    • Host Eric was being harassed by a higher-ranking soldier during a tour in Iraq, while his unit had set up in a penthouse. The officer wanted a round in the chamber of the LMG that Eric was in charge of, but it was an open-bolt weapon, meaning that it would only have a round in the chamber when the trigger is squeezed. Eric now admits he shouldn't have, but he decided to demonstrate. Putting a couple of holes in the wall.

    Western Animation 
  • Archer actually averts this surprisingly often for a spy parody.
    • While Archer is keen to just play around with his gun and ignore proper ear protection (often to comedic effect) and Cyril can't seem to pick up a gun without accidentally shooting someone, Lana's often seen handling her guns the right way. Heck, when Cyril accidentally shoots someone, she takes his gun, clicks the safety, ejects the magazine, then ejects the round from the chamber.
    • In another episode, two of Woodhouse's squadron mates from the Royal Flying Corps visit him, one of whom brings the commander's revolver and points it directly at Woodhouse's face to show him the bore wasn't pitted.
    • The show also averts this by showing the consequences of Archer's ignorance of proper ear protection. He has temporarily deafened others by firing too close to their ears and has developed tinnitus as a result of his own actions or other people firing near his ears in revenge. It does play it straight in some instances, however, with most everyone being more than happy to aim loaded weapons at each other for even the slightest of arguments.
    • Subtly played with the episode "Lo Scandalo": Malory, a spymaster and experienced former spy herself, points her recently fired weapon at her own neck to demonstrate the difference between a catsuit and a zentai. Lana is predictably alarmed and takes the gun from her, checking to make sure it isn't loaded. Considering Malory had just witnessed assassins murder a long-time lover in her own apartment, one could understand her being too shaken up to observe proper gun safety rules. That is until we discover that Malory, the Manipulative Bitch that she is, made the whole thing up; she killed the man herself and only faked her BSOD and Reckless Gun Usage to divert Archer and Lana's suspicions and manipulate them into helping her get rid of the body.
    • Lampshaded when a pregnant and angry Lana says "This is all I need right here" and points at her belly... with her loaded pistol. Even Archer gives her a "Seriously?" expression, and she realizes what she just did.
  • In Daria, during the "Daria Hunters" episode, several characters are shown playing paintball without safety goggles on. Granted, Paintball guns are not necessarily deadly weapons, but they still hurt and can inflict Eye Scream if they hit an unprotected face. Sandi even calls Quinn, Tiffany, and Stacey out on this because the rules of paintball state you're supposed to wear goggles.
  • Gargoyles: Elisa is, at one point, seriously injured when Broadway accidentally shoots her while playing with her gun. While Broadway had little experience with the modern world so his mistake was understandable, Elisa, an 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). For the rest of the series, she is shown either unloading her weapon (when not in use) or storing it in a gun coffer.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "The Cartridge Family", which starts with a soccer riot leading to complete chaos in Springfield, Homer buys a gun to protect the family. He then proceeds to violate every gun rule in existence, including pointing the revolver he wanted to buy at the salesman and repeatedly pulling the trigger (although obviously it wouldn't be loaded and he seems to be doing it for fun), pointing the gun at people at random, using it to shoot light bulbs rather than switch them off, shoot open cans of beer, and even to change the channel on the TV. He's such a menace that Marge tells him that his recklessness has caused her and others to literally fear for their lives, and when Homer displays this behavior in front of the NRA members of Springfield, they're so completely shocked by his actions that they strip him of his membership on the spot. While the members depicted in the episode are ludicrous with their guns (such as modifying one gun into five guns), they at least are aware of the fact that owning a gun is a serious thing.
    • In "$pringfield", after hearing Lisa's nightmare about the Boogeyman, Homer arms himself with a shotgun. When Marge comes home, we see that he has already fired a shot through the door; when she enters the door, he points the gun right at her face, and upon being relieved that it's her he casually tosses the gun on the floor causing it to discharge as he runs over to embrace her.
    • In another episode, Chief Wiggum gives the mayor a massage with the grip of his gun... which then discharges a round into the cameraman. Wiggum adds to his incompetence in "Homer to the Max", where he is seen attempting to block out obnoxious singing by sticking a pistol in each ear, muzzles inwards.
    • The Simpsons Movie has him eat donuts off the barrel of his gun, which accidentally discharges. He avoids an accidental case of Ate His Gun by a hair's breadth, comments on his incredible luck, and then immediately just keeps eating the donuts off the gun.
    • Played for laughs in "Homer the Vigilante" when Homer's vigilante squad is checking their guns inside Homer's house. Marge comments that she doesn't like the idea of them using guns, and Homer tries to give her a reassuring talk that they are responsible adults who know how to handle firearms — only to be interrupted by an accidental discharge from Moe. Homer tries to resume his talk, but is interrupted by more accidental discharges from the Sea Captain, Principal Skinner, Moe again, and Bart.
    • In "Coming to Homerica", the Springfield police do what they do best and enlist help in patrolling the Springfield border from immigrants by arming locals and paying them in "bullets and booze". In short order, a drunken Homer ends up throwing his beer in the air and eating the barrel of his gun. All he could say afterwards was "I almost made a biiig mistake."
  • Star Wars Rebels:
    • Hera's blaster pistol is noticeably lacking a trigger guard.
    • This gets lampshaded during Ezra's first few experiences holding Kanan's lightsaber. The first time he ignites it (while looking through Kanan's room), Kanan warns him that he'll cut his own arm off if he's not careful. The second time, Ezra activates it (this time with Kanan's permission) with the emitter pointed towards Kanan's face and almost skewers him through it. Kanan wisely decides to shorten the blade length to avoid any repeat accidents.
  • Sym-Bionic Titan: Galaluna's military academy has the worst security imaginable. To wit, Baron, who admittedly had the best record at the school, is able to take fully charged laser weapons to try to kill Lance without having to go through any security or check out procedures. They're kept in an unlocked cabinet. It gets worse when they enter the training wing, where both boys are able to hijack fully-armed (and loaded) battle mechs without so much as a security code. The only way to deactivate these things is a shutdown switch built on the mech rather than in a remote station since they are training devices. Another possibility is that the control console was too far away to reach in time to keep the people nearby safe.
  • Somehow, The Transformers got one in "The Burden Hardest to Bear", where Galvatron captures the Matrix and sticks it in his cannon, hoping for some sort of Matrix laser. Instead, it fails to fire, and Galvatron stares bemusedly down the barrel of his own cannon attempting to understand why. For the record, this is the same cannon that reduced Starscream to a pile of smoldering ashes atop a pair of feet in a single blast, and Galvatron stares into the business end when it malfunctions. To be fair, he is violently insane...



Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Artistic Licence Gun Safety


Are you all right, you idiot?

Agent Lynch has Brock Pike under arrest, and his subordinate takes it upon himself to attempt to execute Pike... in a moving car. Oh, and he attempts to screw the suppressor on with the barrel pointed at his face. And then he points it at Pike's chest and Pike gently instructs him that it'll work better if he points it at his head. And THEN Pike slips his handcuffs and grabs the gun away to hand it to the OTHER mook because "it would be embarrassing to get killed by that guy", only for the other guy to then answer his cell phone with the gun pressed to the other side of his head.

How well does it match the trope?

4.71 (14 votes)

Example of:

Main / ArtisticLicenseGunSafety

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