Q: Rick, I am looking to purchase a new carry firearm. What are the advantages and disadvantages of a safety?
A. The sole advantage of a safety is to prevent the firearm from being intentionally discharged while it - the safety - is engaged. If you insist on buying a firearm with a safety, you must first understand that it is a mechanical device which could - in theory - fail to operate at some point in time. Thus, you might be lulled into thinking that a gun with its safety engaged will not discharge when it might.
Accordingly, you should always treat any firearm in your possession as if it is loaded AND that there is no safety present on the gun:
- Always keep it pointed in a safe direction.
- Always keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
- Always keep "out of use" firearms unloaded, separated, and locked.
Some people have told me, in the past, that they desire a safety to keep themselves from having a negligent discharge when drawing. My retort is that one should be comfortable with producing their firearm without touching the trigger. If one does not have that level of proficiency yet, he should get additional training and practice.
Another justification for a safety, as relayed to me, is that it will prevent an unauthorized user - such as a child - from hurting himself if he finds it unattended. No firearms should be unattended in the vicinity of unauthorized users - period. Children are smarter than we sometimes give them credit. Given enough time, the safety can be disengaged and become operational. There are far better ways to safeguard children from unattended firearms: education, training, and locks.
Additionally, firearms with safeties will require additional training for the operator. The user needs to practice disengaging the safety before shooting. If the act of disengaging the safety has not become "instinctive" behavior, the operator may forget to disengage the safety when defending himself against a person who is attempting to rob, rape, or kill him.
In my opinion, the best "safety" is the knowledge and application of fundamental firearm safety each and every single time one comes into contact with a firearm. Personally, none of my carry firearms have a safety. However, that is my personal preference and it should NOT be the sole determinant as to whether a safety on a firearm is right for you. You will need to make that decision for yourself.
Rick Ector is a National Rifle Association credentialed Firearms Trainer, who provides Michigan CCW Class training in Detroit for students at his firearms school - Rick's Firearm Academy of Detroit.
Ector is a recognized expert in firearm safety and has been featured extensively in the national and local media: Associated Press, UPI, Fox news, New York Times, USA Today, Bearing Arms, NRAnews, Guns Digest, Tactical-Life, The Truth About Guns, The Politics Daily, Fox News Detroit, The Detroit News, The Detroit Examiner, WJLB, WGPR, and the UrbanShooterPodcast.
For more info about free shooting lessons for women and Michigan CCW Classes, please contact:
Rick's Firearm Academy of Detroit
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