What is the quickest way to brand yourself as a gun neophyte at the gun counter or gun show? Picking up a gun with your finger on the trigger, that’s how. Experienced gunnies watch trigger fingers, both their own and those of others. We are taught to index the trigger finger alongside the frame of the gun when handling or drawing a weapon. Some pistols, such as a 1911 have protrusions that serve as landmarks to help develop muscle memory for that finger.
Rule Three states “Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.” It can also be stated as “Get your God damned finger off the sonofabitchin’ trigger!”
I am disgusted every time I hear some ignorant ass say “It just went off! The gun just went off!” This is childish, magical thinking unfit for an adult. Guns don’t “just go off” any more than automobiles just start themselves and drive to the grocery store. Guns don’t “just go off” and cameras don’t just accidentally take photographs. Our world is full of automatic appliances. Coffeemakers brew up a cup of Joe to be ready for us in the morning, and electronics record our favorite television programs for our viewing pleasure. Guns are not automatic, and they do not “just go off!” They require a person to pull the trigger, or to somehow manipulate the action to ignite the primer that leads to the launch of a projectile. They require human input!
The problem with guns that “just go off” is that a person put their God damned booger hook on the bang switch. In other words, the gun is in the hands of someone who doesn’t know what the hell they are doing. That same person is the very type of ignorant knucklehead that will try convince others of magical thinking after a negligent discharge. They apparently believe that cameras take photographs by themselves, and cars will go to the convenience store and pick up a six-pack if you just want it bad enough. Hell, if they want to, in their Peter Pan world, they can probably fly too!
So, why index the trigger finger alongside the frame of the gun? As human beings, we have evolved to have a five digit grasp. Four fingers and one opposable thumb. From infancy we have learned to lead our grasp with the index finger. It folds first around an object we grasp, and the remaining fingers follow. Of course, our index finger is also our trigger finger.
No matter how hard we train, under the stress of a real situation, we will revert back to our basic instincts. Unless we have trained our trigger finger to do something else, it will revert back to our basic evolution, to that five digit grasp. If we are suddenly alarmed, our natural response is to tighten our grasp on our weapon, be it a club, a spear or a gun. If our weapon is a gun, and that index finger is on the trigger, it will be pulled, and the gun will fire. If our trigger finger is alongside the frame of the weapon, it will stay put.
As firearms enthusiasts we train to make many motions involuntary. We strive to develop muscle memory through endless repetitions of the same motions and tasks, developing reflex actions that were not present before. There is one act that we must never allow to be involuntary. That is the act of pulling the trigger. The best way to prevent negligent discharges from occurring under stress is to train ourselves to keep our finger off the trigger until we are ready to shoot.