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A Warning Shot

posted Jun 11, 2014, 6:44 PM by Christopher Ellison

I really hate how Hollywood and the media treat firearms.  I don't know which irritates me more:  the "news media" hype that accentuates the dangers of firearms over those of other, much more common dangers; or the Hollywood depictions that glorify exactly that the unsafe firearms use that the "news media" (and often the Hollywood elite) so often bemoan.

Let me preface this post by saying that I’ve spent my whole life around firearms.  I grew up in the Midwest; many of my neighbors and friends hunted or shot targets for fun.  I’m a gun owner myself, though I almost never hunt.  I put holes in paper or break up clay birds, and that’s really about it.  I’m also a huge proponent of firearms safety.  Growing up with firearms, I always had some basic rules drilled into me:

  1. "Every gun is loaded, even if it isn't."  Treat any gun as if it were loaded at all times.  Know where you’re pointing the muzzle at all times.  Keep your damn finger off the trigger until you’re ready to fire.

  2. "Safeties aren't."  Safeties can fail.  Use them, but having the safety on is no excuse for letting your attention drift from where you’re pointing your gun.

  3. "Know your backstop."  Always know what is downrange of you.  Keep the gun pointed down and away from people when you’re not aiming at something downrange.

Most Hollywood gun tropes piss me off because they violate rule #3.  Let's look at "firing a warning shot," for example.  Whenever you fire warning shots into the air, you’re definitely not paying attention to your backstop.  That bullet could come down quite a distance away, and you don’t know what kind of damage it’s going to do when it does come down.  While we’re at it, drywall won’t stop bullets; floorboards won’t, either. This all comes back to knowing your backstop.  Don’t point a gun at anything you’re not prepared to shoot.

To be clear, I'm a pretty big fan of crazy-ass action movies, and I've got no problem with those going balls to the wall when they're clearly aiming to do just that.  I'm more irritated by movies that claim to be more realistic yet still depict people who should be trained and experienced with firearms using those firearms in amateurish, reckless ways.

I know this is a fairly specific thing I’m talking about, and I’m really just writing this to vent.  This all ties back to my upbringing and my personal feelings towards firearms.  I love being able to own guns, and I love being able to go to a safe range and shoot targets when I want to do so.  That doesn't mean I don’t respect the power that a gun represents.  They’re tools, but they’re powerful and dangerous tools.  This is brushing up against my feelings on gun ownership; maybe I’ll write about that more generally in a future post.  I think the real message I wanted to get across, though, is just this simple:  respect your firearms.