This topic came up from a Concealed Nation reader who asked us via our Facebook page what he should do if he gets flagged by another gun owner while at the range.
For those unfamiliar, the term ‘flagged’ refers to when a gun owner inadvertently points his pistol in an unsafe direction — sometimes at another person.
One of the key fundamentals in firearm safety is to always point your firearm in a safe direction. This is also known as “don’t point your gun at anything you do not intend to shoot“.
As another gun owner at the range most certainly doesn’t qualify as someone you would want to shoot, flagging another person at the range is very unsafe.
How To Address A Firearm Safety Issue At The Range
If you see another gun owner doing something unsafe, such as inadvertently pointing his gun in an unsafe direction, you can either choose to address it yourself OR report the issue to a range safety officer who will then address it.
At almost any indoor or outdoor supervised range, there is a range safety officer present. He may be paying attention to activity two lanes down from you, but he’s there.
If you don’t have a range safety officer, then you can report the unsafe activity to the range manager if you don’t feel comfortable addressing it yourself.
If you choose to address it yourself, here are some basic safety principles to follow:
- Don’t approach someone while he has a gun pointed in your direction. Wait until the gun is not pointed towards you or anyone else.
- When approaching, try to gain the person’s attention by waving or calling out. Sneaking up behind someone is not advised while he or she is handling firearms.
- Understand the person is probably wearing hearing protection and may not be able to hear you clearly. Try to speak slowly, enunciate, and use as few words as necessary to address the problem or concern.
While you may be concerned with the behavior, approach the problem from the angle of education over condemnation. Don’t be offended if the person doesn’t understand the nature of the problem or appears to think it’s your problem, not his. Unsafe firearm handling at a range is everyone’s problem.
If the person ignores you or tells you off, feel free to report the problem to the management of the range. They will take the matter seriously and address it.
How To Address A Firearm Safety Issue Outside Of The Range
If you are outside of a controlled range environment and see a gun owner exhibiting dangerous behavior — such as inadvertently flagging other people or putting his finger on the trigger when he is logistically moving his firearm — approach that situation much more cautiously than in a range environment.
I recommend that if you see something that you deem is a risk to you or others, your best bet is to notify police and move to a safe location. Police officers are unfortunately put into the position of real-world range safety officer all too often. Many of them are very adept at handling people who don’t mean to pose a risk but accidentally do.
If you feel that you have a reasonable degree of safety in discussing the issue with the person, stick to the facts of addressing the unsafe behavior you observed. When you stick to your observation point, you’re allowing that gun owner the opportunity to see how his actions were interpreted — even if that wasn’t his intention.
Sometimes, simply knowing that a problem exists can help most mature gun owners determine the steps they need to address it.
As always, safety comes first. Remember the four basic safety rules when it comes to firearms and know that they apply all the time, everywhere.