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Always Check. Every. Single. Time.

I am kinda obsessive about checking a firearm when I pick it up to make sure it is unloaded. Generally I will check the chamber on a firearm when it is handed to me or I hand it to someone else, even when I literally just checked it a second earlier. It is just a habit I have gotten into as someone who has handled firearms all of my life and in several stages of my professional career been a seller of firearms. Some people think it is a little weird but I don’t care.

So today I was stowing some gear and one of my handguns was in a case. Before I put it into the safe, I reflexively racked the slide even though I knew the gun was empty. 
Clink, a round was in the magazine and chambered.
Now because I am not Alec Baldwin, everything was fine. I was treating the gun as loaded, as always, had it pointed in a safe direction, as always, had my finger away from the trigger, as always. But the gun I knew was unloaded had a round in the magazine.
That is why we check every single time. Better to verify a gun you know is unloaded a hundred times than think that a gun is unloaded when it is not. Don’t get sloppy or lazy, not ever.


  1. Anonymous

    My Father, lifer and instructor with the NRA had a simple rule. Even if Jesus appeared and assured you it was not loaded you checked it. Like he always told me-you don't get no do-overs just look at how many people had been killed by I THOUGHT it wasn't loaded.

  2. Anonymous

    There was a short sketch in the classic Pogo comic book, "We Have Met the Enemy and He Is Us" in which the pupdog takes the revolver from the deputy dog's holster and is playing around with it. Pogo notices and asks if the gun is loaded, to which the deputy first laughs and then snarls, "What could be more dangerous than a loaded gun?!?"

    Predictably, the "unloaded" gun fires, causing everyone to scatter, petrified. Albert the alligator says, from under the couch where he dove to safety, "What could be more dangerous than a loaded gun? A UNloaded gun?"

    Presumably, cartoonist Walt Kelly was no fan of firearms, but the point he makes is a fair one.


  3. Anonymous

    Good catch Arthur, but the first part of clearing/checking the chamber is to remove the magazine.
    As an IPSC Chief Range Officer, I have seen competitors forget about the mag and have to be gently reminded many times. It happens, but that's why I try to burn the "unload and show clear" into my student's brains from the very start.

  4. Anonymous

    I have the exact same habit, always check, double check and hand a firearm with the action and chamber open and the muzzle in a safe direction. When they hand it back i recheck. It may look like ocd but i prefer to consider it instilling safe practice. D.c. senior

  5. Arthur Sido

    I liken it to stopping for stop signs out in the country, there are lots of quiet intersections where I can see for a mile in every direction so why bother? The reason I still stop is that getting in the habit of running stop signs is a great way to one day get smoked.

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