The Bulwarks LLC


Firearms Safety: A "Uniformed" Approach

by Eric Dean

First and foremost, carrying any firearm is a tremendous responsibility. Firearms are designed for one purpose only and that is to fire a bullet at tremendous speeds and delivers deadly energy on nearly anything it impacts. There are many rules, policies,directives, and good ideas that dictate how we handle firearms. Though many of these guidelines may serve their purpose in their own regards, when it comes right down to being successful there are but 4 simple rules that will maintain not only safety, but being an efficient firearms user. Being "the good guys" we maintain a high level of scrutiny. Just as important to note is that those that wear the uniform have been targets of deadly encounters simply for wearing it. We in the Kentucky National Guard have the unique ability to carry firearms for our self-protection and we must be efficient if we are ever called upon to deploy our firearms in our own judicious defense or that of others. The "4 Universal Firearms Safety Rules", developed by Col. Jeff Cooper, who is truly the father of the modern deployment of defensive firearms, are the commandments of firearms safety and we should all discipline our actions, our gear, our tactics, and just as importantly, our marksmanship by these four simple rules. We are fallible people and knowing this we must understand that when allowances are made for breaking even
one of these rules we are heading toward costly mistakes. The 1st rule of Col. Cooper's rules states "Treat all firearms as if they are loaded". Imagine, if you will, an electrician coming to your home to do repair work, or simply a routine checkup. I think we can guess that the electrician does not stick his finger into the electrical socket to test if it's energized. Stupid, right? Of course it is. Electrical sockets, panel boxes, and switches have one purpose and that is to deliver what could be a lethal dose of electricity. An electrician understands that an electrical socket has no mind and does not think it just delivers energy when requested. It just does what it was designed to do. Now let's jump to firearms. Just like that electrical socket, the soul purpose of any firearm is to shoot a bullet. Just like that socket we mentioned, we cannot see electric in it, nor can we see if a cartridge is in the firearm. It's what it is and we must assume a firearm is prepared to do its one purpose all the time. Regardless of what we might think, we're just not good enough to assume differently. Remember, we only need to be wrong once. The Second rule is to "Never allow the muzzle to cover anything you're unwilling to destroy". Here we must develop constant muzzle awareness. Not just seeing the muzzle of a firearm, but what it is pointing at when handled. How far can a bullet in the
firearm that someone is handling travel? Well that's about how far we must be aware of what the muzzle is covering. The bullet will stop somewhere. The person handling the firearm is responsible for that bullet till it does. When dealing with our equipment, holsters, slings, and the like, we certainly do not want to choose gear that violates this rule. High on the list of things not to point a firearm at is ourselves. The 3rd rule is often called the "golden rule" of Cooper's rules dealing with firearms safety. "Do not put your finger on the trigger until your sights are indexed on a target and a decision to shoot has been made". Firearms that are in good working order, simply do not go off by themselves. Something must put enough pressure on the trigger to make a loaded firearm fire. If you're holding it and it fires, you made it fire whether intentionally or negligently. Even if a firearm was to fire due to a firearm malfunction (this is called an accidental discharge) if you're following the first two rules mentioned here then nothing catastrophic can happen. Embarrassing, yes, but carers (and more importantly, lives) typically are not ended due to embarrassments. I would venture to say that 99% of the time someone is handling a firearm there is zero reason to have
your finger on the trigger. If there is a legitimate target, and you're following the next rule we will discuss, then as my old coach said " watch that front-site post and easy on that trigger". The final of Cooper's firearms rules is "know your target and what lies beyond". If engaging a target, has it been identified as a legitimate target? What is beyond the target? Misses occur, some more than others, and bullets can go through our intended target. We must be certain, once the decision to engage has been made, that we are
able to justify our actions. These rules, in my opinion, are not a set of rudimentary and tired ole army
doctrines, but It is a tactic employed by those that understand that being the good "guys" is tough. We have to be right all the time, but of course that's what being on our side is really all about. I was ecstatic to see the United States Army Small Arms Marksmanship Unit adhering to these rules as their policy, and I know that these rules have been the hallmark of the Kentucky National Guard's Weaponcraft program. I think
this is why we are seen as they folks to go to when we are deployed. We are competent, and successful.

Use these rules when you're handling your firearms in what ever manner they are deployed and I can guarantee that there will not be any catastrophic outcomes from an unintentional discharge of a firearm.

"One team-one fight"

SFC Eric Dean

JFHQ- Small -Arms Readiness Training Section

The Kentucky National Guard's Small-Arms Marksmanship Training Section is the
"subject matter experts" for commanders in the Kentucky National Guard relating to
small-arms use, qualifications, and building defensive and offensive skills. The SARTS
Section members are available to commanders by contacting the J3 Training Section at
Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort, KY.

The KY SARTS Section is available to unit Commanders and NCO's to develop safe
and effective utilization of individual soldiers' small-arms. SFC Dean is a Military Police
NCO with three deployments overseas and now is the senior Weaponcraft Instructor for
the KYNG. He shoots competitively and in 2015 placed 2nd at the U.S. Army Small
Arms Championships (open class) and was 1st place in the pistol open class.

SFC Dean also teaches defensive tactics to both civilians and law-enforcement in his private business.

QUESTION: What rules does he break?

  1. All guns are always loaded. Anyone can clear a firearm and unload it. The trick for this rule to be effective is to understand our own fallibility and treat a firearm as if it is loaded regardless of the condition that it is in.

     2. Never allow the muzzle to cover anything you are unwilling to destroy

          This rule applies whenever the firearm is able to fire. In the holster, in a

          bag, or where ever it is, the muzzle may not cover anything. When you set

          your gear up (holster, sling, etc) discipline how it is set up by this rule.

      3.Keep your finger off the trigger until your

      sights are index on target and the decision

      to shoot has been made. Still not following?

           Please reread rule #1

       4. Know your target and what is beyond

            Constant situational awareness

Copyright @ The Bulwarks LLC 2016. All rights reserved.


As shown in this video, we are human, we make mistakes. Don't be the one that treats a firearm differently. Regardless if its loaded or not, treat it like it is loaded!