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770-500-F-I-R-E (3473) | info@ssusa.co

All Firearms Must Be Cased & Unloaded

“Only YOU Can Prevent Negligent Discharges” – Smokey Bear (probably)

Did you hear that headline in Smokey Bear’s voice? You should. It carries the same weight of self discipline as forest fires. For everyone’s edification, a “negligent discharge” (or “ND”) is often confused with an “accidental discharge” (or “AD”), but the two are very different. An ND occurs when an individual is negligent with his or her firearm, and fires a round in an unsafe place or manner, when not doing so would have been easily prevented. An AD is when someone’s firearm is discharged in a totally unintentional manner. Negligent discharges are completely preventable by following gun safety rules. Accidents happen, and nobody is exempt, but we want to do everything we can to prevent ADs and NDs all the time, and that includes requiring all firearms to be cased and unloaded.

Why Bring “Cased & Unloaded” and NDs up Now?

Two reasons. Perhaps you’ve heard the name Alec Baldwin at the top of the news recently. If not, Google “Alec Baldwin prop gun” and you’ll get a million different takes. Here’s mine: Alec Baldwin took a gun on the set of his new movie, “Rust”, pointed it at a cinematographer, and pulled the trigger. As Kevin Bacon said in A Few Good Men, “these are the facts, and they are undisputed.” The result was a negligent discharge, the death of cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins, and serious injury to director Joel Souza when the bullet passed through Hutchins and struck him.

That’s one reason, and I’ll expand on that later in this article. The other reason is that, recently, we’ve had a number of individuals come into SharpShooters carrying their firearms without a case. So, I wanted to make clear exactly why we have the seven (7) signs in the parking lot and bright yellow sign on the front door that say, “All firearms must be cased and unloaded.”

Gun Safety Rule Review

If you’ve ever taken an introductory firearms safety course, you should have learned the following four rules of gun safety. As I mentioned before, every ND can be prevented by abiding by these 4 rules. And, just like “now” is always a great time to be nice, “now” is also a great time to remember the 4 rules of gun safety.

  1. Always assume every gun is loaded at all times (Alec Baldwin’s 1st violation)
  2. Never point the gun at something you do not want to destroy (Alec Baldwin’s 2nd violation)
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger at all times until you’re ready to fire.
  4. Positively identify your target and what’s behind it (Alec Baldwin’s 3rd violation)

Those are the basic four. The first one will prevent every negligent discharge.

What does “Cased & Unloaded” mean?

Don’t want to digress too far here, but we mentioned this in a previous blog post about “Gun Store Gun Safety”. Georgia law states the following:

(c) Any person who is not prohibited by law from possessing a handgun or long gun may have or carry any handgun provided that it is enclosed in a case and unloaded.

As we mentioned in that article, Georgia law is not clear on exactly what “case” and “unloaded” actually mean. So, we have our own policy on that exact issue. Here it is.

All guns must be cased and unloaded. A “case” means a case that prevents the weapon from being discharged. Such a case can be a holster on your hip, a gun case in your hand, or a range bag full of guns, ammo, and safety gear. 

This list is not exhaustive. If you’re not sure if your “case” is appropriate, ask before you bring your firearm into the store. This is a safety issue for all of us, so we are happy to help you make sure your case is good to go.

“Unloaded” means there’s not a round in the chamber. Your magazine may be full, but none in the chamber. We understand that some people always carry with one in the chamber. We ask that you clear your chamber prior to entering the store.

To be clear, “cased and unloaded” means your gun is in a case, which can be a holster, and that there is not a round in the chamber of your firearm.

Why Must All Guns Be Cased & Unloaded?

Simple answer? To prevent negligent discharges. The more detailed answer is lengthy and multi-faceted. It’s a safety issue, and here are the highlights:

  • There is only one reason for you to uncase your gun in the store. If you uncase your gun, we assume you mean us or someone else harm, and we will act accordingly.
  • If your gun needs service, we (by which we mean Josh, the Gunsmith) will uncase your gun for you.
  • Every gun should have a proper case for storage and transport. Imagine getting pulled over for a simple traffic stop, and the Police Officer sees your loaded handgun on the seat next to you. That won’t go well.
  • Accidents happen, and nobody is exempt from accidents happening.

What if I don’t have a case for my gun?

First, please don’t bring it into SharpShooters or any other gun store or gun range. Second, we have lots of bags and cases, and we are happy to sell you one. We’ve experienced the situation in which our customer did not have a proper case and did not want to buy one. That’s unfortunate, but the end result will be the same: do not bring the firearm into SharpShooters, or any other gun store.

How could Alec Baldwin’s ND have been prevented?

Read the account of what happened, and see how many times a Gun Safety Rule was broken. We count three violations.

  1. Baldwin failed to check the gun that the prop manager handed him
  2. He then pointed the gun at a person
  3. Baldwin did not positively identify the target and what was behind it

Now, you can argue that “he didn’t know it was loaded”, but that argument doesn’t fly among people who know and take gun safety seriously. If you accept a gun handed to you by someone else — anyone else — it is your responsibility to check and confirm and know the status of that weapon, period. That, and that alone, would have prevented the death of Halyna Hutchins. The other two violations manifested themselves because of the first violation.

Had Baldwin checked the gun to be clear, he would have seen LIVE ammo in it, and would not have pointed it at Hutchins. If Baldwin had checked the gun to be clear, he would not have discharged the weapon. Had Baldwin acknowledged, learned, and abided by the four rules of gun safety, Halyna Hutchins would be alive today.

What do we do to prevent NDs?

We do a lot of different things, including keeping our eyes open and communicating very clearly with people in the store and on the range. Sometimes, people get upset that we’re such sticklers for safety. We choose to err on the side of being too safe. Most people appreciate firm safety over lax rules that leave everyone in danger. If it’s safe, then it’s fun. Having your gun in a case is a simple rule that anyone who owns a gun can abide by.

10 thoughts on “All Firearms Must Be Cased & Unloaded”

  1. I carry appendix and usually do not have a case with me. With magazine removed, a chamber flag and my shirt tucked so you can see my firearm, would that be acceptable until on the firing line?

  2. I am a concealed carry permitted person, and I come into you gun store with a concealer holstered loaded and yes one in the chamber, is this an issue? Reason I ask, I am originally from GA, the Savannah area. I currently live in CA and gun ranges here do not have an issue with folks coming into their ranges carrying. But you are forbidden from pulling your concealed firearm and shooting it from a concealed carry while on their range. All other guns and magazines must be unloaded and cased. They also require you to disclose to the that you are licensed and carrying. One range even stated that they wanted to know in case of an emergency they might would come to you for help. What is your stance on this?

    • Great question, and I’m glad you asked. “Cased and unloaded” means your gun is in a case, which does include a holster. So you are just fine wearing your concealed carry into the store. “Unloaded” means no round in the chamber, so we ask that you remove that round before you enter the store. We always appreciate it when concealed carriers disclose that they are carrying. Finally, regarding shooting from the concealed carry position, meaning shooting from the holster: we do allow that, but you have to be certified by our instructors to do so. Thank you!


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