The ABC’s of Gun Safety from an EMT’s Perspective

Really Excellent Article on Gun Safety from a Perspective I thing we all can Appreciate..the Guy you call to Patch you up when a Band-Aid won’t suffice!-SF

desperate gestures with gun in hands at work

desperate gestures with gun in hands at work


To begin, let me tell you why you need to read this article and absorb what I have to say. In just my small town, and just this  week, I was involved in the care of three gunshot victims. Two of them died. One of those I took in a body bag to a morgue, the other I pronounced dead at the scene (let the coroner take care of that clean-up) and tried my damnedest to console a wife-to-be as she asked me “why?”  The third survived, but with grievous and life-changing injury.

Here’s the worst part:  all three of these were preventable.

*DISCLAIMER*: I am not a firearms instructor, expert witness, or any other authority on guns. I am, however, an EMT, a lifelong gun enthusiast, and a man of integrity. I do not intend to publish anything that I know to be misleading, harmful, or untrue. Feel free to call me out if you believe I’ve failed with this. I don’t think I have, and I don’t think you will either.In every case I can pinpoint exactly where gun safety broke down. Then due to one circumstance or another, the firearm performed exactly as it was designed to – sear breaks, firing pin crushes primer, gunpowder burns, pressure builds, and projectile flies. I don’t want any of you to have to bear the things I have this week, and so I present my ABC’s of gun safety.

The ABC’s are something any medically minded person can recognize immediately. The acronym, fully ABCD, stands for: Airway Breathing Circulation Disability.

These are the steps of resuscitation and are listed in order of importance, beginning with airway. Without an airway, you can’t breathe (really bad). If you don’t breathe, your heart can’t circulate oxygenated blood (extra bad). Without oxygenated blood your brain and heart will die (insanely bad). Finally, If there’s some significant disability, you might be pumping your oxygenated blood all over the world (super bad). Realistically you need to have all four to sustain life, but you especially need an airway first or you’ll quickly lose the rest. Then you need breathing, then circulation, then [lack of] disability, in that order, to have life.

Gun safety, in my opinion, is similar. There are basics that you must have in order for any other efforts to be effective. Every gun manual with every gun I’ve ever purchased favors the “ten commandments of gun safety”. I’ll explain in another article why I despise this analogy, and why I believe it may have killed three people last week. For now, I’ll give you my version of gun safety, and if followed it may not only save your life or a loved one’s, but could have saved the lives of three other good Americans.

Airway. Treat every gun like it is loaded. Sounds simple enough, but this is incredibly important. It is the lynchpin of all other gun safety, and despite its simplicity must not be taken lightly. Let’s dissect this more to find out why. The word treat, as opposed to handle, or load, or use, implies that all weapons (not just the ones we’re going to handle, or load, or use) must be dealt with the same way: safely. It also implies that safety is all of our responsibility. Your wife’s gun, that antique in the picture frame at your buddy’s house, the guy down line on the range, the gun you or a shop keep is inspecting at the gun show, must all be treated like they are loaded. The consequences of not doing so are dire.

The word “every” is covered somewhat already, but I mean EVERY gun. It also implies an aspect of constant vigilance. Once a gun is cleared, you do not get to stop treating it safely. Vice versa if you clear a weapon and hand it to someone else, you wouldn’t let them point it at your eyeball to inspect the barrel. Treat EVERY gun, all the time, like it’s loaded. I insist on using the word “like” instead of “as if” because people tend to treat loaded weapons differently (usually more safely), and this isn’t a fantasy world we live in. I don’t want anyone “pfft, as ifit’s loade**BANG!**”. Treat that weapon like it’s loaded, even if you know it’s not. Where we tend to forget this rule is with loaded weapons, an every-day carry for example. However, safety especially applies loaded weapons. Do not get complacent. Treat it like it is loaded, BECAUSE IT IS.

Take it out of your holster carefully and clear it safely, THEN take your pants/holster/coat off. The word “loaded” portends to a weapon that is ready to fire i.e. it will discharge if you allow it to. That’s what is designed to do, go bang! “So when the safety is on, since what it’s designed to do is keep that firearm from discharging, it’s safe, right?” WRONG. Every firearm is simply a mechanical device and can fail which can lead to discharge. Ammo could fail, and no bang happen, but why take the chance? Every gun can fire, intentionally or not, if conditions that are not obvious to an external observer are met. If these impossible to know conditions are met, the gun is deadly if used incorrectly. Therefore, treat every gun like it is loaded. Do this, and you have your airway. Other gun safety can now follow.

Read the Remainder at Havok Journal

4 thoughts on “The ABC’s of Gun Safety from an EMT’s Perspective

  1. Pingback: The ABC’s of Gun Safety from an EMT’s Perspective | Rifleman III Journal

  2. Hi,

    I’ll go you one better . . . No “as if.” No “like it’s.” Simply “as.” “Respect all guns as loaded.” Not if or when, not like it’s loaded. “As” connotes the constant actuality of being loaded ,or unknowingly to you, ready to fire. “Treat” assumes that we have some superiority over the gun or discretion as how we opt to regard it. Let’s say “Respect” to have regard and care for its possibilities (or our human fallibility in making “stupid mistake” errors) and having an active and constant care for awesome power which we cannot fully control if goofs are made. We respect a venomous snake within striking distance. We respect a speeding train approaching our crossing. We defer, to prevent a catastrophic event. If we build a fire, we must control it wisely with respect to the possibility of flame and smoke all around us.

    Respect all guns as loaded.
    Simple. Concrete. Requires from us an active and continuous caution.
    We use our tools carefully for our needs and enjoyment.
    We respect in order to control and enjoy without error,

Comments are closed.