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Old July 4, 2013, 11:38 AM   #1
Theohazard
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PLEASE Keep Your Finger Off the Trigger!

I've worked at an LGS for about a year now. It's astounding to me the sheer number of people who put their finger on the trigger as soon as they pick up a gun. And too often they're doing it while telling me about all the other guns they own. Combined with the amazingly high number of loaded guns customers bring into the store and then point at us, it's pretty unnerving.

It happens like this several times a day: I hand them a gun over the counter and they immediately put their finger on the trigger. I show them the technique of indexing their finger along the frame above the trigger guard (I try to do this as tactfully as possible). They keep it that way for a bit, then the finger works its way back to the trigger again. This always happens repeatedly; I can see them fighting (and usually giving in to) their urge to put their finger on the trigger. It's especially unnerving when it's a gun without a safety like a Glock and it's someone's first gun they are planning to use to protect their family. All I can think of is how much more likely they are to shoot one of their kids than they are to protect them.

What causes this? Is it just the body's natural reaction to holding a gun? Or is it the media blitz of unsafe gun handling we get from movies, TV, and video games? (I'm reminded of a Time Magazine cover from the early days of the Iraq War that featured three geared-up Army soldiers with their fingers on the triggers of their rifles. According to the caption those were actual soldiers [not actors as I'd originally thought] so that meant someone at Time must have specifically instructed them to put their fingers on the triggers for the picture, because no soldier or Marine would do that on their own.)
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Old July 4, 2013, 12:11 PM   #2
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For someone who hasn't had it drilled into their head by an instructor (whether it was formal or informal instruction doesn't really matter) to keep their finger OFF the trigger, I think it's just natural to put your finger there.
Guns are ergonomically designed to be comfortable while shooting, i.e.-with your finger on the trigger.
As much as my Dad drilled all the other rules of gun safety into my head, he never really stressed that one as much as he should have. It was not until I went through formal training with the Glock 22 that "Finger Off the Trigger" became second nature.
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Old July 4, 2013, 12:42 PM   #3
SC4006
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I see people with their finger on the trigger all the time as a customer in gun shops. I'm only 18 and its already second nature to keep my finger off the trigger until ready to fire the gun. To me it just feels right to have it off the trigger when not in use.
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Old July 4, 2013, 12:49 PM   #4
Glenn E. Meyer
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Is it just the body's natural reaction to holding a gun?
Yep, it's called an affordance. The design makes it natural to put your finger there. Someone said: The finger seeks the trigger.

Affordances are part of good design but can cause accidents.
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Old July 4, 2013, 01:45 PM   #5
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PLEASE Keep Your Finger Off the Trigger!

While I was in the business, a customer walked in the door with an angry expression, holding a pistol, with his finger on the trigger. My coworker that day spent a LOT of time deployed from 2003-2011.

That could have gone very badly. Long story short, he's lucky we don't put fingers on the trigger until ready to fire. It scared the crap out of me.
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Old July 4, 2013, 02:18 PM   #6
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I recall the Elian Gonzales event. Swat team and fed agents took the young boy from the Florida home etc. The anti-gun group kept ragging about how the swat team went in with "Their fingers on the trigger". So they showed freeze frames of the video. The operator's finger was clearly alongside the housing where it should be, not on the trigger. And the anti-gun commentators, looking at the same photo, pointed out how "clearly the finger was on the trigger, ready to fire".

I guess that has little or nothing to do with the gun shop topic. Sorry if I raised a political point inappropriately. But I'd have to guess that, as others have suggested, NOT keeping your finger on the trigger is something that we "I hope" have had drilled into us. "Normal people" have not had that drilling.

I'm sure I would be in a perpetual state of frustration if I were a gun store clerk.


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Old July 4, 2013, 03:51 PM   #7
dakota.potts
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The hand reflexively squeezes together when tired. It's not a natural muscle position to have your finger stretched out like that. It is natural to close your whole hand around an object. In this case, that includes the trigger
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Old July 4, 2013, 03:51 PM   #8
GJSchulze
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Proper finger placement requires it be instilled in muscle memory. Plenty of repetition plus someone constantly telling you to move your finger is what it takes. Same for muzzle direction. So these people have not had enough practice with knowledgeable people. Scary, huh?
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Old July 4, 2013, 05:03 PM   #9
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It's almost kind of funny how little kids, or anyone, who simulates a pistol with their hand makes a fist but sticks out their index finger. Yet put a real gun in that hand and the natural, non-drilled into their head, reaction seems to be to NOT do the same thing but to, instead, curl that index finger around the bang lever.


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Old July 4, 2013, 05:42 PM   #10
g.willikers
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A guy that I know used to work in a gun store.
One day an older woman comes in, wondering if she could trade her snubby revolver for something else.
As she's telling him how she can't pull the trigger on it, she takes it out of her purse and demonstrates.
She points the gun directly at this fellow, trying with all her might, to pull the trigger.
And the thing is loaded.
Fortunately, she was telling the truth, and really couldn't pull that trigger.
That single experience might explain why he no longer works at a gun store.
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Old July 4, 2013, 08:11 PM   #11
ClydeFrog
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BORTAC, Miami Beach PD chief, gun shops....

I remember the Miami/INS incident. The US DoJ & US Border Patrol didnt look very good after that event, .
FWIW; the federal agent was a member of BORTAC, the elite highly trained SWAT/spec ops unit of the US Border Patrol(the largest federal LE agency).
BORTAC is like the HRT or ACE(what the US Army called Delta Force/SFOD-1).

News reports also stated the police chief of Miami Beach Florida lost his job over the bungled way the INS did the raid.

As for gun shops & private ranges, safety training & alert sales staff can prevent mishaps.
I posted a topic reply on forums before about a incident I had in the mid 2000s, where a couple(male-female, mid-40s/early 50s) can into the gun shop I was in with a huge Ruger Super RedHawk .454 Casull. Both of them were red as lobsters & intoxicated. The sales clerk, a young guy, was oblivious to the couple's condition & was looking over the Ruger Super RedHawk.
I politely asked the couple to see the .454 & opened the cylinder to make sure it was unloaded. Thankfully it was, but I could also see how strung out the customers were.
I quickly ducked out to avoid being in any fracas with the two drunks.

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PS; I started to shop more at a local Gander Mountain. They do it right. Security & CCTV cameras everywhere, weapon inspections, armed staff/safety officers.
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Old July 4, 2013, 10:12 PM   #12
Theohazard
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Quote:
Glenn E. Meyer posted
Yep, it's called an affordance. The design makes it natural to put your finger there. Someone said: The finger seeks the trigger.
That's kind of what I figured, but I didn't realize there was a term for it. Thanks for the info!

Though I'm sure popular culture doesn't help. On nearly every movie and video game cover that features someone holding a gun their finger is on the trigger.
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Old July 4, 2013, 10:17 PM   #13
Theohazard
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Quote:
g.willikers posted
A guy that I know used to work in a gun store.
One day an older woman comes in, wondering if she could trade her snubby revolver for something else.
As she's telling him how she can't pull the trigger on it, she takes it out of her purse and demonstrates.
She points the gun directly at this fellow, trying with all her might, to pull the trigger.
And the thing is loaded.
Fortunately, she was telling the truth, and really couldn't pull that trigger.
That single experience might explain why he no longer works at a gun store.
The sad thing is that kind of thing happens all the time in gun shops. I've only been in the business a year and I already have plenty of stories similar to that one.
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Old July 5, 2013, 12:20 AM   #14
dakota.potts
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"Though I'm sure popular culture doesn't help. On nearly every movie and video game cover that features someone holding a gun their finger is on the trigger."

I've recently been playing The Last of Us. Great game. The firearms are fairly down to earth. You get a shotgun, single shot bolt action hunting rifle, revolver, 9mm semi auto pistol, and what appears to be a 45-70 or similar break action single shot handgun with a scope. All fairly down to earth.

But for the life of me I can't figure out why the main character always walks around with his finger hooked onto the trigger! Even when he's waving it around or holding it close to the little girl on the cover with him. Most video games are like that, unfortunately. It makes people pick up a gun and immediately replicate what they've seen.
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Old July 5, 2013, 01:36 AM   #15
monoxide
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PLEASE Keep Your Finger Off the Trigger!

As for the video games having the finger on the trigger it is easier to model the character once with the finger there instead of multiple times with it off then switching to on. Also it would take a lot more money to do that as there is more coding involved with it.

Every gun I pick up I drop the mag if one is in it and open the action to make sure it is unloaded and my finger rests right on the frame. My buddy was checking out my new pistol the other night as soon as his finger went to the trigger it got taken away from him. I knew it was unloaded but a unloaded gun is the most dangerous gun.
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Old July 5, 2013, 09:43 AM   #16
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This one is simple. It's called classical conditioning. Since we were small children, we pick up and handle toy guns, games, and anything else with a 'trigger' type of device on it, with our finger on the trigger. When someone in the nursery begins telling small children the proper technique for holding a toy, that's when this will change.
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Old July 5, 2013, 10:05 AM   #17
g.willikers
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It's getting much more common to see tv and movie actors doing the right thing as of late.
Finger along side the frame, instead of on the trigger, is catching on.
So things might be looking up on that front.
Now if they would only get the grip right.
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Old July 5, 2013, 01:43 PM   #18
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Do you open the action and show them a clear chamber before handing them a gun or rifle? Just curious, because I was trained to do that, always.
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Old July 6, 2013, 10:03 AM   #19
Theohazard
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Yep. Always.
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Old July 6, 2013, 11:52 AM   #20
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At my local Cabela's (Glendale AZ) the clerk opened and checked the empty cylinder of a revolver, then closed it and handed it to me. I then, opened and checked it myself. He was genuinely suprized and thanked me. He says that all day long, people ask to see a gun in the case, he clears it and hands it to them and the very first thing they do is pull the trigger while pointing it at him.


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Old July 6, 2013, 12:24 PM   #21
GM1967
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I'm sorry, but if a gun store owner wants to sell me a gun but won't let me put my finger on the trigger, I'm going to go elsewhere.

What's the point of holding the gun in the hand if not to see how it fits? And the most important part of that fit is how it fits with your finger on the trigger, not stuck up alongside the frame. This argument is silly.

This is NOT an unsafe action; the gun should not be loaded in the display case, should be verified as unloaded before handed to the customer, and should again be verified as unloaded by the customer (will be verified if that customer is me), but at that point it is absolutely NOT AN UNSAFE ACTION.

As an aside, on the point above about soldiers, when I was taught in the military, I was taught weapon on safe, thumb on the selector lever, and finger on the trigger. This was for tactical situations, when we expected only enemy to be in front of our muzzles, but that's how I was taught. For garrison situations, we kept our fingers out of the trigger guard except when necessary to fire the weapon on the range, or to drop the hammer for another reason (storage of the weapons, for instance).
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Old July 6, 2013, 12:43 PM   #22
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Hey! I've watched lot's of movies, I know exactly how to handle a gun.
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Old July 6, 2013, 01:03 PM   #23
Theohazard
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GM1967 posted
I'm sorry, but if a gun store owner wants to sell me a gun but won't let me put my finger on the trigger, I'm going to go elsewhere.

What's the point of holding the gun in the hand if not to see how it fits? And the most important part of that fit is how it fits with your finger on the trigger, not stuck up alongside the frame. This argument is silly.
It appears you don't understand the argument, but it's not silly at all.

No one here is talking about shops not letting customers put their finger on the trigger. If you want to put your finger on the trigger or even dry fire the gun we're fine with that. We have targets all along the top of the back wall expressly for that purpose. But if they're just holding the gun with their finger on the trigger, they appear as though they have zero modern firearm training. If they're that casual with putting their finger on the trigger of an unloaded gun, that will most likely translate to how they treat a loaded gun.

Handling a firearm safely and testing the trigger is one thing. Putting your finger on the trigger because you have no idea how to safely handle a firearm is another.
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Old July 6, 2013, 02:42 PM   #24
SgtLumpy
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I'm sorry, but if a gun store owner wants to sell me a gun but won't let me put my finger on the trigger, I'm going to go elsewhere.
If you want to pick up a gun with your finger on the trigger, without checking where the thing is pointed, or if you point it at me, I would invite you to go elsewhere. There's a pretty big difference in random handling of the gun with your finger on the trigger and putting your finger on the trigger when you're ready to dry fire after having double checked that it's cleared.

Nobody's saying you can't feel the trigger. You just can't be reckless about it.


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Old July 6, 2013, 09:01 PM   #25
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He says that all day long, people ask to see a gun in the case, he clears it and hands it to them and the very first thing they do is pull the trigger while pointing it at him.
Yep. It seems that people are hardwired to point any gun I hand them at my crotch and start pulling the trigger like crazy. Evidently, a layer of glass countertop will protect me from gunshots.

If it's an automatic, I hand it over with the action locked open and the empty magazine still inserted. At least it buys me a few seconds to take a breath and stand to the side before they figure out how to slap the action shut and start pumping imaginary rounds away.

It would be nice if people asked before doing that, like the old days. It really would.

The absolute highlight of my week is the inevitable know-it-all who pulls a gun out of the holster, sweeps me with it, swears it's not loaded, then seems surprised to find a round that the Magic Bullet Fairy teleported a round into the chamber.
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