Don’t Bet Your Life on an Empty Gun

Dear Reader,

It’s 2:00 a.m. You sit bolt upright.

You hear footfalls on the other side of your bedroom door and reach for the gun you keep in a rapid-access safe on your nightstand.

The doorknob turns.

In an instant, there’s an intruder in your bedroom rushing toward you. You take aim and pull the trigger.

Nothing happens.

You were armed, but not prepared. And that brings me to the topic of today’s alert.

When I teach handgun classes, one of the most common questions that comes up is, “When you store your gun for home defense, do you keep a round in the chamber?”

In other words, do I think it’s a good idea to keep a loaded gun or leave an empty chamber?

It’s a question often asked by new shooters. And I completely understand where they’re coming from.

To new shooters, a gun is intimidating. They believe a loaded gun means they’re more likely to have an accident and shoot something they don’t mean to.

But that’s not the case — with proper training, of course.

I’m a firm believer in always keeping your gun loaded. Furthermore, anyone who doesn’t always keep a round in the chamber is making a huge — and potentially deadly — mistake.

Here’s why…

A long time ago, I trained a fellow who said he never kept a round in the chamber. He argued with me about it endlessly. He said that — even in the event of an emergency — he would rather take the time to chamber the round than keep a loaded gun on hand.

I explained that during a stressful situation — such as a home invasion — you don’t want to make life any more complicated. And you certainly don’t want to introduce any more steps than are necessary to protect your family.

In a crisis, we often go into “cave man mode.” When a fight-or-flight response is triggered, your primitive survival instincts kick in and you react without thinking. This is why it’s vital to keep things as simple as possible.

This gentleman was unmoved, and we agreed to disagree. Until one day I received an interesting email.

One night, this fellow woke up to someone trying to invade his home. The criminal was screaming and kicking at his front door. He grabbed his gun and ran downstairs.

He started yelling at the criminal that he had a gun, his gun was pointed at the front door and if the criminal tried to kick down the door, he would shoot.

Thankfully, the criminal heeded the warning and abandoned his efforts to break in.

But guess what?

In his email, the fellow said that after the criminal was gone and he’d called 911, he realized he’d been pointing an empty gun at his front door the entire time.

He said everything happened so fast he never remembered to chamber a round in his gun. He recognized this was a dangerous oversight and from now on he said he would always keep his guns loaded.

This guy got lucky. But if the criminal had kicked down the door, he could have easily killed the homeowner simply because his gun wasn’t loaded.

If you’re a gun owner who doesn’t like to keep their gun loaded, I highly encourage you to take some training courses at your local gun store so you feel more comfortable operating a firearm.

After training thousands of students over the years, I’ve found that a lack of training is almost always the reason people are afraid to keep their guns loaded.

But once you understand the safety rules — most importantly, never put your finger on the trigger until you’ve identified the threat and are ready to shoot — your fears about keeping a loaded gun should vanish.

Because that extra second required to chamber a round during a vicious home invasion could mean the difference between life and death. And your life is too precious to lose because of an unloaded gun.

Imagine a criminal has bashed in your front door and the moment you step out of your bedroom he’s running at you with a knife. Do you want a loaded gun or not?

I know my answer. And with a little training and understanding of firearms safety, I think you know yours too.

Stay safe,

Jason Hanson

Jason Hanson

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