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Safety is NOT a Device … It’s an Ideology

Let’s talk about safety. Some people will point to that little lever on the side of a pistol and call that the safety. It is not. That is the safety lever. Big difference.

Recently I had a long conversation with an “older” gentleman who was upset by the fact that neither my Glock nor my Kahr Arms pistol was equipped with a “safety.” I tried to explain to him that the trigger mechanisms in modern auto-loading pistols are designed to keep the firearm “safe” even without an external lever. He didn’t want to hear about it. “A gun needs a safety,” he said sternly, wagging his finger at me.

Then I asked him to show me the safety on the revolver he carried. “Well, that’s different,” he said. “You know what I mean and what I’m talking about.” Then he walked away.

Mark Twain once said, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

There are a whole lot of people in this world who are just certain that their opinion is the only opinion that matters. I can’t believe how difficult some of these people are to communicate with. It’s not just on the topic of guns. They’re everywhere. But I digress.

Safety is not a device. It is a philosophy; an ideology that guides you to do things safely. If you remember your very first Hunter Education class, you heard the instructor say, “The safety is a mechanical device. Mechanical devices do fail. Do not count on your firearm’s safety lever when it comes to matters of life and death.”

Yes, a frame- or slide-mounted safety on a pistol can be a benefit. The same is true for a magazine disconnect safety. There are documented cases of police officers who, as they realized they were losing the fight to retain their own firearm, were able to engage the safety or release the magazine, thus ensuring the untrained assailant wound up with a gun he could not make work. The extra time gave the officers the chance to counterattack and win the fight.

But I contend the mere absence of a safety lever on a pistol is not an inherent problem and certainly not a danger. The slick sides of a Glock or Kahr make that pistol no more likely to “go off” than a revolver is likely to “go off.” Guns don’t just go off. They must be fired and a person must do a great number of things in a very specific order to fire a gun.

So, I say this: the safety is between your ears. Follow the four cardinal safety rules. Know the status of your firearm at all times. Maintain trigger finger discipline. Control the muzzle.

You don’t need a safety lever. You need safety philosophy.

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