Gunfighter Logic – The Rules
Gunfighter Logic – The Rules

Gunfighter Logic – The Rules


RULE # 1. All guns are always loaded.

Well, no, not really. Some guns are unloaded. Thing is, if we treat all guns as if they are loaded, the less likely we are to do stupid things with them.

RULE # 2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.

If there was only one rule of gun safety this would be it. If gun owners followed this safety rule for their rest of eternity, the blind would only commit accidental deaths and injuries with firearms.

RULE # 3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.

Why would you do this? To make sure you don’t inadvertently pull the trigger when you are not ready. Duh!


RULE # 4. Always be sure of your target.

What does this mean? It means you only shoot at things which are OK to shoot at. Can you shoot at paper targets? Sure. But, be careful about what is beyond them.

RULE # 5: You gotta be willing.

Carrying a handgun for protection is an available option unless you live in a location where the politicians believe citizens are sheep. If you’re going to rely on a handgun for personal protection you have to be willing to use it. If that’s a commitment you cannot make, buy pepper spray, a Rottweiler and a thick leash, or hire a bodyguard.


RULE # 6: Have gun will travel.

To protect yourself with a handgun, you have to have it with you. If you’re accosted in the parking lot of Piggly Wiggly by some meth fueled freak and your handgun is at home in that expensive gun safe, it’s as worthless as a nun in a brothel. Pick a gun you can carry and will carry and then CARRY IT!

RULE # 7: Learn to run your gun and practice.

I’m opposed to the requirements placed on those seeking a concealed carry permit but I’m not opposed to mandatory training, as long as you are the one mandating the type and amount of training you must have. When it all goes to hell in a hand basket you need to be prepared to manipulate your handgun without conscious thought.


RULE # 8: Be Justified, Don’t be stupid. Think!

Those who teach concealed carry classes often get the question, “How will I know if I will be justified if I shoot someone?” Here is the answer to that question so you can quite asking it. “You won’t know.”

Reality is arguably 90% perception. Your perception is your reality. Perceptions can be 90% wrong but perceptions are what we must act upon. After a violent fight, I once arrested a man who claimed he thought I was a giant snake coming to eat him. He was so spaced out from huffing gold paint I truly believe that was his perception. The jury didn’t believe him and he went to jail.

If you believe the only way you can survive without grave injury is to shoot your attacker, then you are negligent if you do not pull the trigger. If you thought your attacker was a werewolf, zombie or your mother in law, you might have trouble in court.

RULE # 9: Everything looks better with light on it.

In the world of gunfighting, you cannot shoot what you cannot see. And, you cannot justifiably identify a threat if you cannot see your attacker. Light equals control and bad guys don’t like it. They’re like vampires. (Don’t tell the jury that.) Even if you do not carry a handgun, carry a light and use it. Another bright thing that’s a good idea is a laser. If a fiend attacks you in the dark, shine a Surefire in their face, paint their chest with a bright – Crimson Trace – dot, and without ever pulling a trigger you just might convince them they screwed with the wrong citizen.


RULE # 10: Never be more than five shots away from cover, a reload or a long gun.

Expect your worst shot in practice to be your best shot when a hoodlum is trying to stick a switchblade in your gut. You might miss, run out of ammo and need more. Handguns are not great at stopping a fight. They’re not in the same league as a shotgun or a rifle. When you’re out and about, have a reload with you. When you are at home, have a long gun where you can easily get to it.

And obviously, it’s harder for the bad guy to shoot you if you are behind something.


This is a condensed excerpt from the book, Handgun Training for Personal Protection. The book is available direct from Amazon where it has 28 reviews and 4.5 stars. It  is also available for purchase at the Gunsite Pro Shop. The foreword was written by Sheriff Jim Wilson.


  1. Wayne

    “All guns are always loaded.”

    For safety purposes this is an entirely correct statement. Don’t just “treat them as if.”

    Believe that they are and act accordingly.

    You may check a firearm, and determine that it is not loaded. I won’t take your word for it – don’t accept mine.

    There are reasons for having a firearm unloaded – safety is not one of them.

  2. Davis


    Aware of your surroundings.
    Aware of your practice with shooting and handling of your gun
    Aware of your home security ( a gun is THE last resort)
    Aware of laws(permits and licenses can actually be a get out of jail for free card)
    Aware that just brandishing your gut can cause jail time.
    Aware that you have to live with any consequences.
    Aware is the key..

  3. oldforester

    This is a very concise summary of concealed carry rules. I do agree with Wayne’s view that you ALWAYS ASSUME EVERY GUN IS LOADED! That applies even if you have just watched someone check the weapon before handing it to you. It applies even if the gun was out of your sight for only 10 seconds while you changed targets. It may be extreme ‘overkill’, but I prefer that to extreme ‘accidental kill’!

    Also, contrary to your opinion, I am in favor of a requirement for training before a concealed carry permit is issued. Too often I have ben in at a firearms dealers and listened in as some complete novice pondered buying a gun. I have watched these prospective gun totes violate every one of the safety rules in a matter of minutes. I was even given a dirty look by the dealer when I asked the customer to please watch where they pointed a shotgun in my face(which neither had checked). I favor a training that familiarizes the applicant with gun safety, teaches basic gun function and operation, assures that the person can handle the weapon,asks the “are you willing” question, and has heavy emphasis on the huge responsibility one assumes when they decide to go armed. I don’t suggest a qualification range test, but I would like some assurance that folks can come with a foot of their target at 30 ft. before they are turned loose to carry. I feel that if we don’t do these things, the anti-gun fraternity has a good case and reason to question our stand on firearms!

  4. John

    I see way too many people who carry a weapon who make comments that indicate a desire to shoot someone. The author is absolutely correct that anyone who Carry’s a weapon must … No exceptions.. Be willing to use it if that is the best option available. But you will not be a hero when you shoot the guy holding up the local grocery… There are exceptions but you will have your weapon taken while an investigation is conducted. You probably will be treated like you committed the crime and subjected to brutal treatment by well meaning but unbelievably untrained or worse mis-trained police officers and will probably be on the receiving end of vicious comments about your “true” intentions. I have been a Marine in Vietnam, a police officer, a lawyer, and a judge over the past 65+ years and you will regret firing a shot that kills someone for the rest of your life. I know the bravado does not let most admit that and those of sound mind will recognize that what was done had to be done and accept the results. But there are.a huge number of brave people who have their entire life changed by that one split second decision. If you doubt that visit your nearest VA hospital and talk to some of the folks there. And God be with you if you make a mistake and shoot when your perception was wrong. One cold night I drove by a local convenience store and saw a guy inside with a pull over mask inside at the counter and knowing the clerk knew something was very wrong. Pulled up at the side and walked around the corner hearing in the process the word thief being yelled by the clerk. Face covered mask… Thief… Otherwise empty store at about two AM. What would you think? Turns out the guy was riding a motorcycle. Remember I said it was cold. This was third time he had come in and unwrapped a sandwich heated it in the microwave and gone to the counter before he realized he left his wallet at home. Had about half the price of the sandwich in change. Sandwich was unwrapped and had been handled and micro waived so could not be put back. The clerk knew he was being taken for a ride and was mad. But there was no danger at all. The guy got a trespass warning so he could not do the same thing again and all was well. But what if…. And that will always be the question. What if I had… And over time you will think of dozens of things you could have done. But in that split second you made the decision to shoot. If it helps any I find that those who practice a lot, who are comfortable with their ability to hit what they are shooting at and who are aware of their surroundings generally make fewer mistakes than the would be hero that buys the newest and best new things coming out every year. Nothing wrong with newer and better but that is no substitute for your firearm being an extension of you. That only comes with a lot of shooting with the weapon you carry. Finally when the police show up put your firearm down as soon as you have made it clear you are the good guy if the other guy is still functioning (be sure they know where the threat is). Don’t even have it out if the threat is over. And be nice but don’t say anything without a lawyer. I one of the best things you can say is along the lines of I want to tell you everything that just happened but for my safety i ewant my lawyer with me when I do so there is no misunderstanding. You will usually get a very irritated cop who says if you don’t have anything to hide you don’t need a lawyer. Try to remember that in today’s society a huge percent of the police want only one thing… To put you in jail and charge you with a crime. It was not always that way but it’s safer to assume now that you will be assumed to be and will be treated like a criminal. When the nice policeman tells you it’s clear you only did what you had to do and he just needs your statement to wrap things up please believe me when I tell you at least half and the number is growing quickly of the police are trying to find something they can charge you with. I would say I’m pretty shaken right now can I come in tomorrow and bring a lawyer. It will cost you but an experienced criminal lawyer, not your brothers investment lawyer, will be the best money you ever spent. That applies when the guy was in your house with a gun and shot first as much as it does to the unarmed teenager who slipped in the house to see your daughter. Neither of them should have been there one is clearly justified the other is a horrible misunderstanding but handled correctly both are justified if it’s dark and you thought you were dealing with a burglar or worse. The problem is they both seem to be viewed by the police in the same way. Be safe before , during, and after you Fire a shot at another human being. And this should not need to be said…. Never ever brag to anyone about what a hero you are. In your eyes you may be but bragging about it will almost always land you in jail. And even if it did not there is nothing about taking another human life that is worth bragging about.

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