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Guns are dangerous things. Extremely dangerous things. They're not just designed to hurt; they're designed to kill. With a single flick of a single finger, one can take a life. Such power needs to be respected, and it shouldn't be surprising that there are various obvious safety rules in place when using a gun, that anyone who is trained to use a firearm should know. Add to this, even an expert can conceivably make a serious (and dangerous) mistake when handling a gun. There is even a saying among gunsmiths that "There are two types of gun owners. Those who have had their guns discharge accidentally, and those who will have their guns discharge accidentally."

Many writers, actors, artists, and directors, however, do not know these rules. What results from this are scenes where characters are doing things they shouldn't, such as placing their fingers on the triggers of their weapons when not about to fire, or pointing their weapons at people who they are not trying to shoot (one particularly common example is making routine arrests (drunk driving, check fraud) at gunpoint for no reason). This is particularly troublesome when these people are supposed to be experienced experts with lots of experience with their weapons. As a result, experts will be caught Failing Gun Safety Forever.

The distinction between this trope and Reckless Gun Usage is that this involves people who either should know gun safety based on their profession, or are stated to have extensive experience with firearms while Reckless Gun Usage involves people who are likely not familiar with basic firearm safety. If this is done for comedic purposes it's Juggling Loaded Guns. If this shows up and somebody gets shot, it's I Just Shot Marvin in the Face. If the rules are followed and somebody gets shot anyway, that's Reliably Unreliable Guns going off. Firing in the Air a Lot is always a case of this as are Pants-Positive Safety and Gun Twirling.

No Real Life entries or we'll overload the wiki.

May also be the writer hinting that a character isn't as professional as he should be.

Examples of Artistic License Gun Safety include:


Anime & Manga Edit

  • Gunslinger Girl played with as the girls themselves are weapons and grabbing Henrietta's handler isn't exactly proper safety protocol. There are also multiple scenes where characters yell at other characters for playing this trope straight, including Henrietta looking down the barrel of her jammed pistol and Raballo chewing out Guiseppe for not training her properly.
  • Appleseed averts this and invokes physics: when (cyborg) Briareos leaps building to building. In-story, Deunan (whom he carried) is temporarily blind from the G-forces. In his notes he calls attention to Briareos carrying his enormous gun with his finger outside the trigger guard while leaping (proper procedure). Shirow Masamune averts this trope frequently.
  • Ghost in the Shell:
    • Shirow Masamune shows proper Gun Safety again. This time noting how stupid the cops are. Situation: enemy mook is surrounded on all sides by the cops. He notes that should they all fire at the target, they would probably kill eachother. Literally surrounding your opponent and aiming for him is not a bright idea, kids!
    • This is invoked in a first-season episode of Stand Alone Complex. The character is shown running around waving his gun wildly with his finger on the trigger, uncharacteristic enough to show how unhinged the case is making him.
    • However, it's later averted in 2nd Gig. When the police move in to arrest Gouda, they trap him in the middle of a hallway. The cops at one end are armed, while the cops on the other end are wielding armored riot shields to block the hallway and protect themselves from stray bullets at the same time.
  • Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu plays a too-literal adherence to this trope for laughs: Sousuke is playing an arcade light gun game, and doing quite well until the light gun runs out of bullets. Sousuke immediately pulls his personal very real pistol and blows the game away. When it's explained to him that you're supposed to shoot away from the screen to reload, his response is that this would have been horribly unsafe. It should be noted that Sousuke observes proper gun safety, and indeed takes pains to introduce Kaname to the basics in an episode of The Second Raid. He just has No Social Skills -- no concept of the idea that civilian life and open battlefields have different social standards for when it's acceptable to pull a loaded firearm on someone.
  • Monster averts this: Tenma's training strongly emphasizes the rules, and he later handles guns with the responsibility and care you'd expect of a surgeon.
  • Sora no Woto:
    • Inferred I Just Shot Marvin in the Face instead of an Inferred Holocaust: Episode 12, like in graduation ceremonies, helmets were tossed into the air by the troops upon learning they don't have to fight. It's all well and good until you spot loaded rifles up in the air with the helmets...
    • In one episode, Kanata cleans her rifle while oblivious to the fact that's it's pointed right at Kureha's face. (Like so.)) Kureha, oddly enough, doesn't seem to notice, and she definitely doesn't get out of the way (because it's a still shot, but that's beside the point).
  • Cowboy Bebop: Spike loads his handgun and then points it directly at his partner for no reason. Jet, a freaking former cop, fails to comment.
  • Highschool of the Dead averted: One of the survivors is a Gun Otaku and knows proper gun etiquette. He is also very fastidious in pointing it out to his fellow survivors when they handle a firearm improperly. However, points are lost when shots are fired dangerously close to main characters, only Rule of Cool prevents I Just Shot Marvin in the Face.
  • Asobi Ni Iku Yo: Manami shows bad firearm discipline despite having live experience, although she likely wasn't formally trained in their handling. In episode 6, she waves a revolver in Kio's face with her finger on the trigger, and that it was unloaded is no excuse. She does it again later, when she loads the revolver and waves it around in a fast-food joint, once slamming it down on the table while pointed at Aoi. Aoi, for her part, shows better trigger discipline, save for that one incident where she was threatening to Shoot the Messenger, although the fact that she was present when Manami was waving her revolver around and did nothing is a strike against her.
  • D.Gray-man has Devit and Jasdero who are constantly pointing guns at each other. Though, they are toy guns and it is how they combine to form Jasdevi, so this might be subverted.
  • In the "Go for It! Pass it!" episode of Upotte, the girls are participating in a live fire exercise. The targets? Balloons floating just above their heads. Granted, the girls are anthropomorphized guns and aren't all that affected by gunshots beyond minor bruising, but it's still jarring, considering all the other ways in which guns are depicted accurately.


Comics Edit

  • Super Dickery provides an example: This.
  • Tag & Bink: Revenge of the Clone Menace Parodied: on the cover, where one of the titular characters is scratching his head. With a deactivated lightsaber.
  • The Boys: Butcher is confronted by a couple of street hoods. One lifts his shirt to show off the gun in his pants waistband. Butcher just reaches out and pull the gun out before either hood can react, then crushes the gun. This is rather tame for a Garth Ennis comic, frankly. Butcher could have just as easily grab the gun, then pull the trigger, blowing off this guy's nuts. And demonstrating how stupid it is to walk around with a cocked gun - in your pants!
  • G.I. Joe. These guys are supposed to be elite. Yet posing for a photo while holding a gun like this in Real Life is how civilians get featured on "Idiots With Guns" blog.


Fan Fiction Edit

  • Pretty Cure Heavy Metal: During any of Shugo's temporary Face Heel Turns in the second half of the first season her finger will always be on the trigger of her gun, and she will aim as though she was confused as to who she's aiming for. Thankfully, she'll only spend approximately one minute (usually; she was reckless with her gun for the entirety of episode 45) as a Heel before going through the revolving door to the Face side. As for the aforementioned episode 45... her Face Heel Turn lasted for the duration of that episode (during which she's a Well-Intentioned Extremist whose quarry is a Satanist), only ending when she realizes she had recklessly endangered her own friends in chasing the Satanist.
  • Misfiled Dreams Averted: when Ash reaches under a car seat to check that a weapon the car's owner just told her about is there, the owner chastises Ash and tells her about the rules for gun handling. Of course, Misfiled Dreams is known for its aversion of Did Not Do the Research.
  • ToyHammer Averted and excused: when Vincent does his best to observe basic firearms safety (safety catch, finger off trigger), although earlier he does ignore a few basic rules. Justified in that he had almost been murdered by Ax Crazy cultists (it took more than one attempt to reload the pistol).
  • Finishing the Fight: When presenting their weapons to medieval era guards, the Chief still shows them his battle-rifle's empty chamber and removed magazine before putting it down on the table, empties out his shotgun and pistol while Johnson does the same, and the Arbiter does the plasma-rifle equivalent. Later, when they are teaching others how to use the guns, the Chief first stresses the correct procedures for unloading, reloading and teaching them what the 'safety' is.


Films -- Animation Edit

  • Beauty and The Beast: Gaston declares his intent to marry Belle by pointing his gun at her. Not a good idea. It is true that his blunderbuss had recently been discharged and should have been empty, but later in the film he demonstrates that his blunderbuss is fully automatic, which is another problem entirely.
  • Robin Hood: prison guard Trigger and "Old Betsy", his not-so-trusty crossbow, which he is none too careful with aiming. At one point he absentmindedly has the arrow aimed right at the sheriff's nose; when told to point the crossbow the other way, Trigger assures that the safety is on, patting Betsy's side and immediately causing an accidental discharge. Minutes later as he and the sheriff investigate a strange noise, he is pointing the arrow right at the sheriff's back.

 Sheriff: Wait a minute. Is the safety on Old Betsy?

Trigger: (while patting the crossbow) You bet it is, sheriff.

Sheriff: That's what I'm afraid of. You go first!

  • In Megamind during the celebration of Metro Man's museum police officers can be seen in the crowd firing their pistols up into the air. Thanks to gravity what goes up must come down, those bullets should have hit someone in the crowd or someone far off in the distance (stray bullets have been known to hit people at over a mile away) but fortunately it doesn't appear that anyone was hurt. Still very reckless behavior for supposedly trained police officers.


Films -- Live-Action Edit

  • Pulp Fiction, the Trope Namer for I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: Vincent, an experienced hitman, is talking with Marvin, a guy he and Jules picked up in the aftermath of their hit near the beginning of the movie, in the backseat of Jules' car. While speaking with Marvin, Vincent is casually waving his handgun in the air, and when Jules hits a bump, Vincent accidentally fires the weapon, shooting Marvin in the face and blowing his brains all over the rear window Even after the accident, Vincent doesn't remove his finger from the trigger; he continues waving it around as though the gun had nothing to do with the mess in the backseat.
  • In Heat, Mc Cauley does a brass check in the elevator to kill Waingro. While checking your weapon to make sure there's a round in the chamber when going into combat is a good idea, Mc Cauley does it by putting his whole hand over the barrel to push back the slide. If gone wrong, he could have blown his hand off. This is a rare example in a movie that otherwise notably averts much of this trope.
  • Monkey Business: a gangster hands revolvers to both Groucho and Zeppo on two separate occasions. Both times he does so he immediately realizes that they are absentmindedly pointing them right at him, and grabs their hands to turn the guns aside. Don't hand weapons to people who don't know proper gun safety, somebody will get shot in the face. Another gangster in the same film gives guns to Chico and Harpo.
  • Tremors Averted: Burt Gummer, a survivalist and gun-enthusiast, always follows proper weapon safety. At one point he gives a revolver to teenaged waste-of-space Melvin Plug, to get him moving to a safe-point. Despite knowing that he'd deliberately handed Melvin an unloaded gun, when Burt takes it back from Melvin he still flips it open and re-confirms the chambers are all empty... which is exactly what you're supposed to do any time you pick up a weapon.
  • Black Hawk Down: During the barbecue scene, the Ranger unit CO calls out a Delta Force operator for wandering around with a loaded M4 carbine hanging from his neck with the safety catch off. Said operator then just about laughs in his face (and says "this is my safety, holding up his trigger finger)". This was based on a real precise incident described in a book by journalist Mark Bowden.
  • Independence Day: during the Gondor Calls for Aid scene, specifically the bit in Iraq with the British soldiers, one of them can be seen holding his sidearm for no apparent reason while looking at the map, with his finger clearly on the trigger, and the barrel pointed directly at one of the other officers.
  • The Dark Knight:
    • Harvey Dent seems to have a bit of a devil-may-care attitude toward gun-safety even while he's sane. He cleary knows something about guns when he removes the magazine and chambered round from the pistol in the courtroom. On the other hand, he points an unloaded pistol at a criminal to get him to talk, which is still against gun safety rules. Once he goes crazy, you can bet that whatever safety measures he ever followed are gone.
    • The Joker naturally doesn't give a damn about gun safety, and at one point causes several accidental discharges while stumbling around in a daze, but it only makes him laugh.
  • Lethal Weapon:
    • The NRA newsletter had a few articles about the ludicrous lack of basic gun safety shown throughout the series.
    • In the third film, Murtaugh accidentally fires his revolver in the locker room while putting it in his holster, showing that he's either getting too old for this shit, or that he's not all with it. Riggs covers the mishap by smashing in some lockers, producing an apparently identical sound.
    • In Lethal Weapon 4, Riggs in effect tells Leo, "You haven't got a badge so you ought not to have a gun--" (throws Leo's property into the ocean) "--but I have a badge, so it's okay for me to point my gun at your face point-blank for a laugh. Clear?"
  • Heartbreak Ridge: one of the screwup Marine trainees grossly mishandles his automatic rifle during target practice. This resulted in a burst of bullets narrowly missing the Jerkass superior officer. The trainee is punished by doing laps for miles, with his rifle held over his head, till he falls down in exhaustion. This was considered somewhat cruel by his squadmates; if this happened in real life, hell would rain down in this guy for time out of mind.
  • Men in Black:
    • In a firing range exercise eary in the film, J is rationalizing his choice of targets to Z while waving a loaded gun around. He points it at Z at least twice. Note that J is a police officer for the NYPD, and should know better about proper gun safety.
    • Later, two mistakes are made when K gives J the Noisy Cricket (a powerful gun that looks more like a child's toy than anything else):
      • The first mistake was by K: he shouldn't have given J a gun that he didn't know how to use.
      • The other mistake comes when J protests at being handed such a wimpy looking weapon and points it at K's head. K turns, flinches, and points the gun away from both of them.
      • Related to the first mistake: later, in the field, J attempts to use the Noisy Cricket (which he still doesn't know how to use and hasn't trained with) on a fleeing alien. The result: he blows up a car and the force of the blast sends him flying into a wall.
  • The Way of the Gun Averted: various characters are pointedly shown holding guns without their fingers on the triggers. The director hired his brother, an ex-Navy SEAL, to coach the actors on how to properly handle guns.
  • Star Wars:
  • Starship Troopers:
    • During the long-shot of the "Live Fire" exercise, you can see that the range has no walls to the sides and other trainees are doing their thing right next to it. The recruits take the course in teams, with the next sent directly behind the previous! Then, the characters must face off against targets that shoot lasers at their training vests, which give the victim an electric shock. This causes one soldier to clamp down on the trigger and fire wildly in all directions, killing another. Rico is blamed for taking the recruit's helmet off, when the whole scene was a disaster waiting to happen. This was definitely intentional on the part of the director, who was satirizing military culture. Contrast the original book, where the protagonist is nearly drummed out of the military for firing a simulated (harmless) weapon without following all protocols even when he was dead certain it would land in a safe place.
    • One of the propaganda films has a group of soldiers pass their rifles to a bunch of kids, who immediately begin to do exactly what you'd expect of a bunch of idiot children given a cool new toy. The guns are obviously loaded, since there's a visible clip near the back.
  • Shooter Aversion: Bob Lee Swagger shows exemplary gun safety, to be expected of an experienced sniper. Central to the plot is the fact he responsibly disables his guns before leaving his house, swapping out the firing pins -- "... looks right, you'd need a micrometer to tell... but the gun don't shoot." It should be noted that this is far beyond normal safe storage and is being done because he is Properly Paranoid. Also averted in that Swagger points out to a cop that his holster being unsnapped was unsafe the cop had it unsnapped because he was there to shoot Swagger and was just being prepared, and snapping it may have been what allowed Swagger to escape. However, at the end of the movie he loads and points his rifle, a large .408 Cheyanne Tactical, at someone's head and pulls the trigger, trusting that the agency holding his weapon as evidence didn't re-install the pin while trying to frame him.
  • Inglourious Basterds: When the Nazis stand in a small circle and shoot at the floor in the middle to kill the hidden Dreyfuss family. Even if you don't shoot your own feet, you might shoot your friends'.
  • First Blood: John Rambo only kills one guy (by disabling a helicopter with a rock). All of the other deaths are due to the Sheriff and his deputies flagrantly ignoring any semblance of safety (even that one could have been avoided if the deputy hadn't taken off his harness).
  • Phantasm Aversion: Jody gives some firearms combat instruction to his younger brother Michael.

 Jody: Now, remember: you don't aim a gun at a man unless you intend to shoot him. And, you don't shoot a man unless you intend to kill him. No warning shots. Hey, you listening to me? No warning shots. Warning shots are bullshit. You shoot to kill, or you don't shoot at all.

  • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Tom Sawyer is shown being taught to shoot by Alan Quartermain, before the former puts his foot in his mouth asking about the latter's son. Sawyer then takes a moment to lean on the upturned gun contemplatively, putting his chin on the barrel of the explicitly loaded weapon. Especially stupid considering Sawyer is a Secret Service agent and should have received proper weapon training. It is generally assumed that gun safety is a must when your job is protecting the President and involves handling guns on a regular basis.
  • RoboCop: The title hero twirls his gun via a finger inside the trigger guard, mimicking the lead of a show within the movie, "TJ Lazer". Being a cop who's not exactly a rookie, impressing his kid or not Murphy should have known how dangerous that could be, to himself and others. Even though Murphy is shown putting a magazine into the weapon afterwards, it still violates Rule #1: A gun is ALWAYS loaded. Even when it's not. Especially when it's "not". More people are injured or killed by accidental discharges because they think the gun is not loaded than from actually being shot at deliberately.
    • When he actually becomes Robocop, he doesn't even have the empty magazine excuse. That gun of his is always loaded, and he rarely seems to empty the clip when he uses it. He still does the twirling thing out of habit.
  • Silent Night, Deadly Night part II: after witnessing Ricky kill a few people a police officer confronts him to arrest him while casually twirling his gun, Ricky punches him causing him to shoot himself in the face.
  • The Sentinel Aversion: A Secret Service agent is shot on his doorstep, and the Arlington PD initially assumes that he didn't have time to get the safety off. Kiefer Sutherland, (who is not to be questioned), says that Secret Service agents only draw when they absolutely intend to fire, so he would have released the safety in one motion.
  • Kick Ass: Big Daddy teaches his preteen daughter not to be scared of guns by putting her in a bullet proof vest and shooting her. Averted later on, when Big Daddy pulls a gun on an intruder, before realizing that the intruder is on his side. Big Daddy removes the magazine, empties the chamber and then puts it on the table pointing away from them.
  • Big Jake: In the first, Wayne's character casually shoves a pistol into the front of his pants; it probably wasn't loaded, but he doesn't even bother to check first.
  • The Punisher (2004) Aversion: Each and every time Frank Castle racks the slide to load one of his Custom .45 autos he always carefully eases the slide open a quarter-inch afterwards to confirm a round was indeed chambered using the grooves on the front of the slide, which is exactly what they were put there for.
  • I Robot: Detective Spooner (Will Smith's character) wakes up, pulls a gun out from under his pillow, and scratches his head with it. With his finger on the trigger, though he may be slightly suicidal. There's also a moment in the final battle when Spooner's partner shoots a robot in the vicinity of Spooner... with her eyes closed. This promptly gets lampshaded by Spooner and the nearby pedestrian, who scold her for firing her gun in a way that might have hit them.
  • Iron Man 2: For being in the weapons manufacturing business, Justin Hammer has a serious disregard for practicing trigger control. Even if you're willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that he made sure none of those guns were loaded before his little show and tell with Rhodey and the other USAF guys, he points at least two of the weapons directly at them and has his finger actually on the trigger for almost all of them. Not to mention, those showoff-y cocking motions he kept making? The audible "clicks" likely were from TAKING THE SAFETY OFF. Though it is entirely possible this was intentional as part of his character. As Rod from The Editing Room put it, "Why the hell did I give them live ammunition for a trade show?"
    • The drones, however, were loaded by Vanko, who knew exactly what he was doing when he armed them.
    • If one looks closely, you can see that Hammer's gernade launcher is loaded when he's waving it around. And he has his finger on the trigger.
  • Once Upon a Time in the West: In the opening scene, one of the gunmen catches an annoying fly in the barrel of his gun, then keeps it in by putting his finger on the end, keeping his index finger on the trigger the entire time. Though as we all know from Cartoon Physics, firing a gun with a finger plugging the barrel results in the total destruction of the gun but no damage to the finger. (Note: The Myth Busters proved that this doesn't work in Real Life.)
  • The Baader Meinhof Complex: during a scene in which Andreas Baader's gang is counting the money they have robbed from several banks. One of the members is examining a loaded pistol and it discharges, the bullet narrowly missing Andreas' head. After he grabs the gun and shouts at her, he unloads the magazine, clears the chamber and leaves it open before throwing the gun down on a table.
  • Battlefield Earth: Terl intentionally hands a human prisoner a ready-to-fire weapon, to prove his point that the "human animals" are too stupid to operate firearms. This after said human has already shot one person according to his subordinates. The prisoner ends up killing Terl's lieutenant with it.
    • Which is strange that he would do that, since later in the film, Terl proves he's not ignorant of gun safety. As he's beating the shit out of a human who threatened him with a stolen weapon, Terl shouts that you never store loaded weapons.
  • Plan 9 from Outer Space: A cop in the graveyard using his revolver to gesture around, point out things, and even scratch the side of his head. Legend has it that the actor knew exactly what he was doing, but had heard that Ed Wood was unwilling to reshoot anything, so he was trying to see what he could get away with. Everything apparently....
  • Hot Fuzz parodied this; they seem to have made a list of the most common gun un-safety practices. From an old man who repeatedly whacks a dud ocean mine to Danny accidentally shooting the local Doctor in the leg twice, and all of the firing-a-full-magazine-into-the-air drama in between. Given all the Shown Their Work in the film, it was probably deliberate.
  • Bad Boys 2: has a scene where Marcus and Mike decide to mess with the teenage boy picking up Marcus' daughter for a date. Mike pretends to be a drunk ex-con and points his gun at the kid's head.
  • Tequila Sunrise: Kurt Russell's police detective character hands Michelle Pfeiffer's totally gun-untrained character a pistol to protect herself while meeting a drug lord, telling her "That's ready to fire."
  • In Bruges: Ken is very careful with his guns. Harry locks his guns away when he's at home so his kids can't get at them. Ray is a bit more careless, but as he's young, reckless, and a bit suicidal, this is in character for him (and he never points a gun at anyone he doesn't want to kill, though his occasional poor aim when he does want to kill someone tends to get him in trouble). At one point a man tries to rob Ray with a gun loaded with blanks -- Ray wrestles the gun off him and fires it directly into the man's eye. The blanks leave him partially blind.
  • Bowling for Columbine has an (offscreen) example, where Michael Moore interviews a man (the brother of Oklahoma City bombing accomplice Terry Nichols) who literally sleeps with a gun next to his bedside. Though the audience doesn't get to see it, a subtitle informs us that the man has pointed the gun at his head. Moore freaks out a little, though the interviewed man clearly had no intention of doing himself in.
  • Red, CIA agent Cooper gestures at a co-worker with his Hand Cannon while energetically explaining something to him. The rest of the film plays so fast and loose with More Dakka that gun safety is quickly forgotten, but this instance took place during a non-action scene and stands out somewhat.
  • Terminator 2, when Arnold is strafing the police cars with the microgun. A pair of cops dive for cover, and one of them points his shotgun barrel in his friend's face, with his finger still on the trigger.
  • McLintock: McLintock's spoiled brat daughter demands her father shoot a gentleman caller, at which point McLintock promptly goes over to his gun cabinet, pulls out a gun and shoots him. The young man falls over convincingly and Becky begins freaking out, at which point McLintock says that if he's dead, he'll be the first man killed by a blank cartridge. Of course, since this is a John Wayne Western with heavy doses of comedy made in The Sixties, no attention is paid to the fact that blanks are still dangerous, or why McLintock had a loaded gun (even if it's loaded with blanks) in his gun cabinet. Presumably they expected the audience to roll with it and move on.
  • City Slickers 2: The Legend of Curly's Gold has a scene where Curly's brother, a sailor, checks to see if some gold bars are fake by scratching them with his gun barrel.
  • Get Smart: Agent 99 is trying to show Max why he should listen to her, by asking him what he would do if someone was trying to kill him. She demonstrates how someone could kill him instantly if he was unprepared by pulling out her gun and pointing it at Max while making noises like she's shooting him.
    • In the Get Smart film "The Nude Bomb", Max talks about how you can never be too careful with guns - then carelessly tucks his loaded and unsafed pistol into his belt, at which point the gun goes off. Fortunately, the bullet didn't hit anything.
  • In Gran Torino, Thao picks up Walt's Garand without checking to see if it was loaded, points it at him, and even has his finger on the trigger! Granted, this was made to show how inexperienced he was and why pursuing revenge would end up killing him. Another example comes from Walt's barber friend, who points his shotgun at Thao, finger on the trigger. Walt himself clearly knows how to safely handle guns, only leveling his weapon at a person or having his finger on the trigger when he was fully prepared to fire at them should things come to that.
  • In The Seven Percent Solution, Sherlock Holmes is holding a revolver with his finger inside the trigger guard, talking in an animated fashion with Doctor Watson and Sigmund Freud -- and gesturing with the pistol, waving it back and forth from one of them to the other.
    • Of course, as Holmes is canonically the sort to shoot holes in the walls of his own flat, his notion of proper gun safety was always in doubt.
  • White Christmas begins with Bing Crosby singing to his fellow soldiers at an impromptu Christmas show somewhere in Europe in World War II. A GI who looks to be about 16 first puts his hand over the business end of his M1 Garand, then rests his chin on his hand.
  • Curiously, this trope is invoked yet subtly averted in Bram Stokers Dracula, where Lord Holmwood threatens Professor Van Helsing with revolver in grief-striken rage when Lucy's body turns out to be missing from her coffin, but a careful viewer can see that he in fact isn't holding his fingers anywhere near the trigger. He may be mad with grief, but not murderously so.
  • In Ravenous, Private Reich and Captain Boyd are investigating a cave that they believe is a mass murder scene. Reich is climbing down into a lower chamber, and Boyd is seriously nerved up. The following exchange takes place:

 Reich: (Looks up to see Boyd is pointing a rifle right at his head): Captain?

Boyd: (Hastily points his gun away): Sorry.

Reich: Thank you.

Justified in that Boyd has been established as pretty much useless as a soldier.
  • Averted in the Daniel Craig version of Casino Royale. When James Bond gets his new pistol from the dashboard compartment of his new car, he immediately removes the magazine, opens and looks down the breech (rather than the muzzle) to make sure the barrel is clear, closes the breach, replaces the magazine and clicks on the safety. Plus, he doesn't chamber a round into the gun until much later, just before he expects to be using it.
  • In "Marlowe", Philip Marlowe, at the scene of a murder, checks that a gun has been fired by putting the muzzle under his nose and smelling it. Yes, his finger isn't on the trigger, but he certainly should know better.
  • One scene in The a Team film seems to exist mostly to call out gun safety failures. A group of CIA agents grab Pike, a mercenary who betrayed them, handcuff him, and put him in the back of a car. Suddenly one of the agents in the back seat decides to shoot Pike there in the car, much to the surprise of their leader Lynch. However he's so inexperienced that Pike, in a rare Affably Evil moment, begins walking the agent through how to load and prepare his gun for use. Then the agent starts fiddling with a Hollywood Silencer, trying to put it on the wrong way, (and while the gun is pointing at himself) and insisting on calling it a silencer rather than a suppressor, despite Pike's attempts to correct him on the terminology. Then he lines up to shoot Pike in such a way that if his hand so much as twitches he'll be more likely to kill the agent on the other side of Pike instead. At that point Pike gets so exasperated that he takes the gun away from the agent, (he can do it because they handcuffed him wrong) states that "it would be embarrassing to get killed by that guy" and hands the gun over to the other agent in the hopes that the second agent will be more competent and allow him to die with some dignity. Amazingly, the other guy manages to top the first by answering his cell phone while he's holding the gun, and winds up holding the phone to one side of his face while pressing the loaded, ready to fire gun against the other side. At this point even Lynch, who is constantly criticized for being a desk jockey with little to no real world experience, looks seriously disturbed by the morons on his team. Keep in mind that this is all going on in a moving vehicle too, adding to the likelihood of an I Just Shot Marvin in the Face moment.

 Pike: You've handled a gun like that before? And you're still alive? That's amazing to me.

  • Goodfellas provides good examples of the biggest mistake many criminals make handling firearms; to conceal small guns the gangsters stuff them into their waistbands and in one case a woman hides a snub-nosed revolver in her panties. Doing that might keep them hidden, but if they go off you might lose something very important.
  • A party guest in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil randomly starts waving a loaded gun around and laughing. Jim Williams suggests they move to a different conversation. John Kelso adds, "Yeah, one less likely to involve gunfire." Subverted later on when somebody actually does get shot and killed, but not because of this trope: Jim Williams appears to practice proper gun safety.


Literature Edit

  • Mirror Dance: Miles has amnesia, but when asked to reassemble a number of weapons from component parts, he does so without ever letting the guns point at a person, a big hint that he used to be a soldier.
  • Black Light by Stephen Hunter Aversion: Even though they are pursued throughout the novel by gunmen, Bob Lee Swagger refuses to give his companion, Russ Pewtie, a gun. Because, as he explains, Pewtie is untrained, Swagger doesn't have time to train him and Swagger does not want to be around an untrained man with a gun.
  • In Starship Troopers, Rico is punished for a firearms safety protocol violation that doesn't result in anyone being hurt, and which he only does because he knows it can't possibly result in any harm in that particular case. He's flogged because had the weapon he was using been real, it would have killed his teammate. So it's a complete inversion, as the punishment is designed to make the point to him that you always follow the rules, even when you're absolutely sure it would be safe not to. Lt. Robert Heinlein (ret.) knew a thing or two about weapons and the military.
  • Taken to almost hilarious extremes in the Old Man's War 'verse. Colonial Union firearms technology has almost as much Applied Phlebotinum dedicated to making the gun safe for its owner as dangerous for the enemy. A prime example of the resulting justifiedly casual attitude is the incident in which a drill instructor demonstrates this by taking a recruit's gun, pointing it in said recruit's face, and pulling the trigger.
  • Lampshaded in Diary of a Wimpy Kid. When Gregory joins the swim team, nobody told him that the referee's gun only fires blanks so he was more worried about where the bullet was going to land than actually trying to win the race.
  • Subverted in The Queen's Thief. Eugenides is held in contempt by the Attolian soldiers for treating his wooden sword carelessly; like the Starship Troopers example, they believe that even a "non-dangerous" weapon should be treated with caution, so no mistakes are made later. Eugenides casually replies "In Eddis, we're taught to keep track of the weapon we have in our hands." He then snatches the sword out of the air with his bare hands and uses it to beat up the soldier trying to kill him. Further subverted when the other soldiers point out that he couldn't have done so with a real sword, and therefore he technically lost the duel. Eugenides reveals that he had, in fact, used the same move on an assassin earlier in the book.
  • Defied by the Rebel Alliance in the Star Wars Expanded Universe. The New Essential Guide to Weapons and Technology mentions that Rebel soldiers were well known for practicing safe firearms usage, including modifying every blaster that came into their possession to have a safety if it didn't already.
    • Verbally Deconstructed in the novella Side Trip by Timothy Zahn and Michael A Stackpole, which features a customized weapon called a "hotshot". This is a blaster with the trigger guard cut off. Supposedly the idea is along the lines of Gangsta Style (looks cool but is a bad idea), but the narrator mentions that anyone who knows anything about gun safety can see why removal of the trigger guard is a bad idea.
  • The Dragaera novels have Fantasy Gun Control, but Vlad still lampshades this trope when he watches a crowd of armed political protesters in Teckla, and notices one of them hugging another while holding a razor-sharp sickle. It was blind luck the man didn't cut his fellow-activist's throat.


Live-Action TV Edit

  • The Andy Griffith Show:Andy always makes Barney unload his pistol and only allows him one bullet which he keeps in his pocket,most times though he defies Andy and ends up shooting the gun into the floor or ceiling. Why Andy even lets him have the gun is anyones guess.
  • Picket Fences: Zachary Brock, bitter about his brother's injury in a school shooting, calmly retrieves his father's gun from its supposed place of concealment, pantomimes firing it at his brother's attacker, and then just as calmly returns the weapon to its place. Zack's father is the town sheriff, yet his means of securing his weapon barely even slow his son down. Oh, and did I mention that Zachary is about nine at the time?
  • Law and Order Special Victims Unit: There's a scene where the detectives are involved in a stand-off with a woman who has a gun pointed at her abusive ex-boyfriend. As such, the cops have their guns drawn and trained towards the woman. Perfectly reasonable during a hostage situation... except for that fact that Det. Benson steps directly into Det. Stabler's line of fire and stays there throughout the entire ordeal, while Stabler doesn't bother to adjust his aim even though he can clearly see that Benson is in the way.
  • Law and Order: was usually quite good about gun safety. One episode dealt with an autistic boy prone to self-injury. He was in the holding cell when he started hitting his head against the wall. Detective Logan quickly hands his revolver, butt first, to Detective Briscoe for safekeeping before opening the cell and restraining the boy. When the boy goes wild, Detective Briscoe puts his own gun on his desk, as does Detective Profaci. This was all incidental and in the background. Sometimes gun safety went right out the window, usually when a Detective had had a really, really bad day -- eg. Det. Logan's partner was murdered and Logan puts the suspect on his knees with a gun to the back of his head. A confession followed.
  • How I Met Your Mother: Robin is a gun enthusiast who routinely loses her guns, accidentally points a gun at another character while making vague threats, and apparently goes to the shooting range while blackout drunk.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The episode "The Doctor's Daughter" has the Doctor hurling a loaded pistol, apparently with the safety off, in the direction of a crowd of people. He was pretty ticked off, as his clone-daughter had just been shot with said pistol, but even though the Doctor Doesn't Like Guns, you think he'd know that throwing a loaded pistol around isn't a great idea.
    • An earlier episode shows him sensibly freaked out by a girl casually tossing a (fake, but he didn't know that) gun around, which indicates that he should have known better.
    • He is seriously considering shooting the person he points it at though, and it's something of an internal struggle to point the gun away.
  • Sherlock: in the final scenes of the first series, our eponymous hero waves a loaded pistol around and gestures with it like there's no tomorrow. This includes nonchalantly scratching his head with it. Admittedly, he's just been through a very traumatic confrontation, but it's a very Ditzy Genius moment for him.
    • This continues in "Scandal in Belgravia", where he disarms a man, flips the gun through the air, casually catches it, and again holds the pistol with his finger on the trigger. By contrast, Irene Adler, in the same room, is pointing the gun at her assailant with her finger clearly off the trigger, just like the assailants were doing themselves seconds earlier. Sherlock is either unaware of or simply doesn't care about gun safety, much like other things, such as "love".
    • Incredibly, he manages to top himself in "The Reichenbach Fall." First, while pretending to take John hostage, he puts the gun to John's hand with his finger on the trigger while walking backwards. Later, while running, he drops it.
    • This only includes the times he didn't shoot a gun; in addition, he's fired randomly into the air twice, and shot at the walls of the flat, all in an extremely populated city.
  • The Adventures of Brisco County Jr: While Brisco is tussling with a bad guy, the Girl of the Week wants to help, grabs a nearby pistol by the barrel and is about to hit the bad guy before Brisco stops her. He beats up the bad guy himself, then demonstrates that fact that if the woman had struck someone with the butt of the loaded, flintlock pistol, it would've gone off. Directly into her.
  • Top Gear: the hosts travel to the North Pole, and are given a variety of firearms in case they need to defend themselves from polar bears. At one point, though, James May earnestly looks down the barrel of his shotgun, and is yelled at by their guide, who grabs the weapon out of his hands. In a Series 14 outtake, May defended himself, claiming it was the only way to see whether the barrel is unblocked, which is completely wrong. There is always a safe way to find out whether a barrel is block, like shining a light down the front and looking at the breach for the a reflection of light or looking down from the breach itself.
  • The Colbert Report: Stephen loves to whisper sweet nothings into the barrel of Sweetness... and then hold it up to his ear so it can whisper back.
  • Myth Busters Averted all the time: although this is hardly surprising considering that the team never do anything without expert supervision and lots of health and safety, and indeed half the myths they test revolve around bad gun safety (loaded gun stored in an oven, an SW460 magnum revolver held with an incorrect grip, loaded rifles in the back seat of a car with loud bass, ammo on a campfire, etc.). Becomes a little incongruous when during the wrap-up they have little scripted sequences like Tory shoving a .45 magnum down the back of his jeans while walking away from the camera. It's clear that the gun is unloaded and made safe, but it still runs contrary to the show's usual very strong gun safety message.
  • Dead Like Me: Roxxy, a new police officer and grim reaper, who pulls a gun in a crowded restaurant on her fellow grim reaper Mason. While she initially does so as a way to try to make Mason shut up, she holds it pointed straight at him. Now, grim reapers may be Immune to Bullets, but everyone else at the restaurant isn't, and apparently no one really cares that an officer is pointing a loaded firearm at another client of the restaurant. She then shoots Mason in the leg, which is not only insanely irresponsible, but only draws startled glances from the patrons. Roxxy's behavior is only excused by the Rule of Funny.
  • Get Smart: the Gun Phone is by its very design impossible to use properly. Guess which bit of it the earpiece is.

  Agent Smart: 99 I'm gonna have to hang up now. I may have to fire my phone.

  • MASH: Major Frank Burns handles a pistol with his finger in the trigger well at all times and continuously points it at people. He also has minimal knowledge of the workings of the weapons he handles, not knowing whether the safety is on or off.
  • Bones: In one of the Valentine episodes FBI agent Booth waves an unloaded machine gun at his partner. Yes, unloaded but this is still completely wrong. Bonus fun; this happens in the gun range.
    • The show sometimes averts this, or at least shows the consequences of this trope. Another episode had Bones using a giant revolver that Booth notes is to big for her (she has very little expreince with firearms), and uses it to shoot off a lock. The bullet bounces off and hits Booth in the leg.
    • And another episode averts it by showing that when Booth comes home after work, he first unloads his sidearm, then locks gun and magazine up in a safe.
  • On The Wire during the famous Cluster F-Bomb investigation scene, McNulty wants to figure out the angle of a bullet entry and exit wound. So he takes out his loaded service weapon and points it at himself to simulate it. All perfectly in character.
    • Any time Prez handles a weapon.
  • Played for comedy in the It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia episode "Gun Fever," where the gang buys a pistol. One scene after another demonstrates a laundry list of unsafe behaviors. In one scene, Mac waves the gun around while walking down an apartment hallway, finger on the trigger. He points it at Dennis and pretends to shoot him, then drops it on the floor and almost trips on it. In disgust, Dennis rips the gun out of Mac's hands while it's still pointed at him.
  • The Walking Dead:
    • In the first season, Rick and Shane confront Daryl, and in the process Rick draws his pistol. Shane is standing exactly opposite of Daryl, so that if there was cause for Rick to fire, the bullet would go straight through the intended target's head and lobotomize Shane the hard way. Neither officer, who are supposed to be trained in Gun Safety, sees anything wrong with this.
    • The second season premier's ending demonstrates why you check what's behind what you're shooting at, with a hunter's rifle round going through the deer they were targeting and hitting Carl.
    • Andrea seems to be the worst offender when it comes to gun safety. She goes off on Rick in a fit of rage and waves her gun in his face when they first meet, it takes her several episodes to figure out how to use the safety, and it only gets worse when she thinks she's able to be the lookout for the group. She fires her weapon at what she believes to be a walker it's actually an injured and delirious Daryl, even though she can't see through the scope clearly because the sun is blocking her view, she doesn't mount the gun on the railing of the RV for support, she shoots at the target knowing that gunfire attracts walkers, with three friendlies downrange who not only could have easily been hit, but are easily capable of taking care of one walker. She ends up grazing Daryl on the side of his head.
  • On The Office (US) Dwight accidentally discharged a gun in the office. He is often portrayed as a Crazy Prepared survivalist so he really should know basic gun safety. On the other hand Dwight might simply think he knows gun safety rather than actually having training.
    • Almost assuredly the latter. In an earlier episode, Dwight was keeping an eye on Michael by watching him through the scope on a rifle. Even worse, it's not until after he makes a brief comment to the camera crew about it that he remembers to put the safety on.
  • Averted in The Greatest American Hero. Bill Maxwell is determinedly careful with his guns, or at least as much as possible when the circumstances permit. He never points his weapon at anyone he isn't willing to shoot (and he does this even when the person in question is his bulletproof partner, Ralph), keeps it on safe until he absolutely has to take it off safe, and when picking up or putting down a weapon always clears the weapon first.
    • In one particular episode, Maxwell needs "backup" to intimidate and arrest the bad guys so he hands Pam Davidson an M-16 that we have just watched Bill unload, clear, and double-check before it ever left his hands. And when she accidentally points this weapon... which he knows is unloaded because he, himself, cleared it... at Ralph (who Bill knows is bulletproof), Bill pushes the barrel away and then shows her how to hold and carry it without pointing at anyone.
  • In Pawn Stars, quite a few of the customers have brought in a gun that turned out to be loaded (a couple of the muskets and at least once a Winchester), but averted for the Pawn guys, who always check to see if those guns are loaded before they start dealing.
    • In the case of the Winchester, the "load" was an empty shell casing, but it illustrated that the owner didn't check and clear it. Also, later in that same episode Rick put the rifle down on its butt and looked down the barrel. Granted, he had cleared it himself moments earlier and he was very skittish about doing it, but he shouldn't have done that nonetheless.
  • A second series episode of The A-Team features a sequence where Hannibal Smith attempts to help defend a young woman and her son against a prison escapee invading their home. Hannibal's way of telling the woman to lock the front door of the house is to gesture with his loaded shotgun in an enclosed environment, pointing it directly at her. Bear in mind that both the character Hannibal Smith and the actor that played him, George Peppard, are both veterans of the U.S. armed forces.
  • Falling Skies has people walking with rifles on their backs, safeties off. Sure, most of these people are civilian militia but there are certainly enough career military types and reservists around to catch this. Especially considering the alacrity with which professional NCO's and officers tend to react to offenders.
  • Deliberately played for Values Dissonance in Mad Men. In the first season, one character brings his new rifle to the office, then jokingly points it at various people while pretending to shoot. Granted, the gun was brand new and had never been loaded, but there wasn't a safety rule he didn't violate. Apparently gun safety hadn't been invented in 1960.
    • It may be less Values Dissonance and more Pete being foolish and likely completely inexperienced with guns.
  • Tragically Deconstructed on an episode of Quincy. The eponymous character spends the latter half of the episode trying to keep a confiscated revolver from reentering the hands of its rightful owner, who has two small children. As luck would have it, the owner proceeds to leave it lying, fully loaded, safety off (if it had one), on his bedroom closet floor. His son finds it, thinks its a toy gun, and shoots his sister. Gory Discretion Shot to credits.
  • Done by Burn Notice's Michael Westen once while undercover: when racking the pistol given him by the Villain of the Week, Ruthless Modern Pirates Gerard, he inadvertently points it at said Villain, who shoves the barrel away from his face. But in this case it's an Invoked Trope: it's Michael's current cover ID that is unsafe with firearms ("Jackson" Doesn't Like Guns), not Michael himself.
    • Burn Notice isn't entirely devoid of straight examples, unfortunately. When Michael gives Fiona a Soviet-issue Makarov pistol for her birthday, she points it in his direction. As prior examples point out, never do this regardless of whether the gun is loaded or not.
  • Discussed in an episode of The Pacific. Gunny Haney rips a lieutenant a new one on the firing range when the officer handles his sidearm in an unsafe manner. Captain Haldane, who was standing next to the officer in question, flatly tells the lieutenant being screamed at that Haney's right.


Video Games Edit

  • A number of first-person shooters play this one straight as an arrow, showing the gun being held with a finger on the trigger and twitching. This may be justified since the character has to fire the gun instantly. If the character's finger was off the trigger, there would either be a delay in the firing animation or it would look weird.
    • However, many modern FPS games will cause the character to lower their weapon, or be otherwise unable to fire if aimed at a friendly NPC, or while in an area with no enemies. Some games even will have the NPCs act annoyed at you if you hold a weapon in their faces.
    • Due to Artificial Stupidity, allied NPCs can and will walk directly across the player's line of fire while you're trying to shoot enemies.
    • Not to mention, you'll sometimes see the player character holding a big gun in one hand. Of course; this is getting better and sometimes when it looks like they're holding it in one hand, they're actually not.
  • Metal Gear Solid 3 Snake Eater: Snake Eater averted: where Naked Snake, in all of his cutscenes, place his finger outside the trigger guard. You don't want to accidentally shoot blindly when you are on a sneaking mission. It appears that Solid "Old" Snake does so as well in Metal Gear Solid 4 Guns of the Patriots: Guns of the Patriots as well. During an early cutscene, you can see Snake turn on his rifle's safety before putting it down to inspect another gun, which he does sensibly, even pointing it straight at a wall when testing the trigger pull.
    • Ocelot plays it straight, juggling and spinning the Single Action Army with all six chambers loaded. The gun is so notorious for accidental hammer drops that most gunfighters would only load it with five rounds.
    • Metal Gear Solid 4 has an odd inversion of the trope, in fact; during the beginning of the third chapter where Snake is searching for a resistance cell that has possession of Big Boss's body, he gets stopped by some guards and is told to come with them. He refuses, and they aim their rifles at him, obviously about to shoot... except if you look closely, though, NONE of the soldiers' fingers are on their triggers. Justified, however, in that they're expecting Snake to show up, but the fact that he's entered with a hostile gesture and looks seventy makes them initially unsure of his identity.
    • Old Snake also uses the battlefield rule of guns in an early cutscene where he picks up a rifle near a dead soldier -- namely, "never trust an abandoned weapon." He very, very, VERY carefully checks under the rifle with his knife for booby traps before claiming it as his own.
    • Snake calls out Meryl on her lack of combat experience, noting that even though she shows every intention of shooting Snake right then and there, she hasn't even taken the safety off on her rifle. However, Not with the Safety On, You Won't is artistic license; as that trope notes, the safety on most firearms can be removed in a heartbeat.
    • Yet that's probably a hint to her inexperience that she would be slow in doing it. That's how he gets Johnny in the 4th entry in the series. Johnny looks to check rather than just flipping it off.
  • Knights of the Old Republic: Several of your party members can be armed with blasters. These same party members have scripted hand gestures that they make while talking. They make these gestures regardless of what weapons they are holding. This can be especially unnerving when Carth Onasi is snapping at you about how he isn't sure he can fully trust you... while waving a heavy blaster pistol in each hand.
    • The same gestures frequently cause melee fighters to impale themselves or others to make a point. At least Jedi will be waving around inactive lightsabers...
  • Bioshock: In the first game, the main character reloads his Webley .455 by putting rounds in, then putting the cylinder back in place by flicking his wrist. This may look cool, but there is a very high chance it will misalign the cylinder.
  • Mass Effect: While characters usually put their guns away during cutscenes, some don't, which can lead to situations like a security guard waving a sniper rifle at you one-handed while he's telling you what a good job you did.
    • Shepard him/herself often waves his/her weapon around in a way that would be outrageously irresponsible for a military or law enforcement agent of any kind. The Renegade option for Conrad alone may seem awesome, but if Shepard weren't above the law, he/she would be facing a courtmartial faster than you can say, "Immensely profitable trilogy." It gets worse in the next game, where you can simply shoot him in the foot.
    • Even a Paragon option where you allow Conrad to take your picture will cause Shepard to pose by triumphantly aiming his/her gun - Directly into a nearby crowd.
    • In the Citadel, Shepard can overhear this conversation where the gunnery chief chews out a couple of recruits for unsafe gun handling practices (they've essentially forgotten the "know what's behind your target" rule). Of course, the "gun" they're firing is the main cannon of a dreadnought, whose projectiles hit with the kinetic energy of a nuke, so hitting the wrong target can have... consequences.
    • The actual gun safety required in universe may be a little more lax than in real life, considering that all of the weapons require advanced inbuilt computers and a power cell in order to function, and there furthermore is no "ammo," only a chunk of metal that gets cut to make bullets. The guns are still dangerous, but flipping the safety off makes it a lot safer than a real life firearm with the safety on. A real life firearm can fire, safety on, due to mechanical error, a mass effect firearm can only fire, safety on, if you hotwire it or something equally implausible.
    • The second game did slightly better than the first, in that you could no longer draw weapons outside of combat areas. In the first, you were quite free to pull out your assault rifles and shoot up any part of the Citadel you like--including the high-security center of galactic government!--without anyone so much as batting an eye. You just can't actually harm any civilians by shooting them.
    • Interestingly averted somewhat at one point--when you first meet Garrus, he takes down a thug holding a doctor hostage with a single shot. Shepard can either congratulate him on the shot or berate him for taking the very dangerous risk of shooting at someone when there's an innocent victim only a few inches away. (Mass effect weapons have built-in targeting computers and likely "smart" ammunition as well, plus Garrus' visor acts also helps his aim. Still, it's a very serious risk.)
    • A lot of the NPC, especially those belonging to merc or criminal gangs have poor gun safety. Possibly justified in that they are criminals and unlikely to follow good practice. Another particulary egregious example is of Jonn Whitson, who wants to sign up for the mission to kill Archangel, who takes his piece out and starts waving it around. Justified, given that he obviously has no combat experience.
  • Deus Ex Lampshaded: where gun safety leaflets can be picked up and read. Averted otherwise, as JC always holsters any weapons when initiating dialog. Even if he's caught flat-footed by someone he may rather keep his gun on. In certain areas, some civilians will panic if you have your gun out when you attempt to talk to them, forcing you to holster your weapon beforehand. In other areas, though, the trope is played straight unless you initiate dialog with other characters.
    • Played painfully straight with its prequel, Deus Ex Human Revolution. One of the enemy idle animations is the Mook in question scraping something off the sole of his shoe with the barrel of his gun.
  • Persona 3: Takaya likes to use his jeans (or at least his belt) as a makeshift holster for his revolver. How he hasn't managed to blow his crotch or foot off yet is a miracle.
    • Well, in all fairness it is a little better then most versions of Pants-Positive Safety since the barrel is pointed AWAY from his body, but still not nearly as safe as a holster.
  • GoldenEye: The guards have an animation in which they would wave a hand as if to shoo away a fly, and then threaten the offending insect with their assault rifles. (Even worse, they do the same thing while the cheat code that gives them all rocket launchers is active...). Similar nonsense can happen with James Bond as well, as various tweaks to the game can affect which gun shows up in level-ending cutscenes. Putting a bazooka down his pants is entirely possible.
  • Silent Hill: an unintentionally funny scene in the first game, in which police officer Cybil Bennett confirms that the hero she's just met, a professional writer, has never handled a gun in his life, and so proceeds to hand him her spare gun for protection. The entirety of her instructions are "Know what you're shooting, and don't go blasting me by mistake." (Foreshadowing!)) A little justified in that they're in a Survival Horror environment (and even used as a game mechanic, as, due to Harry's inexperience, the player can't accurately aim at long range), though you have to wonder why, as a police officer sworn to protect and serve, she didn't just accompany Harry instead of giving him a gun and sending him on his merry way.
    • Later on, there's an even more hilarious scene at the local hospital. Harry comes upon Dr. Kaufmann, in an examination room, sitting down in shock next to a corpse of a monster he just shot. Harry carefully comes to introduce himself, and Kaufmann responds by immediately pointing the gun at Harry's face. He pleads with an appropriate, "Don't shoot! I'm a human!" Kaufmann digests this information for a second, and accidentally shoots anyway (missing, but still). He then says a casual-as-if-nothing-had-happened, "Thank God. Another human being."
      • Given the ambiguous nature of Silent Hill, it could be Fridge Brilliance; if any of the events were only in Harry's mind, pulled from Harry's imagination by the town, or part of a Dying Dream, then Harry wouldn't have known gun safety. Since he's making it up, he imagines Cybil giving him "real" advice. The advice wouldn't hold up if Harry knew anything about firearms, but he doesn't, so he fills in the blanks as best as he can with his imagination. So either Cybil is incompetent or Harry came up with it himself.
  • Resident Evil: Early games have this in droves, though the most recent examples (Degeneration and Resident Evil 5) have an almost obsessive focus on gun safety in the cutscenes. In-game, however, the characters do run with their guns down and safe, until you hold the button which readies them.
  • Battlefield Heroes: the National Army Soldier class characters inspecting their submachine guns should they be using it when you do not perform any abilities, move, or move the crosshair for a bit. By looking into the barrel. In the middle of a battle. While ammunition is loaded into it.' Since if you fire while they are doing this and they will go back into a normal firing stance and fire, it can be assumed there is no safety on (or there possibly isn't one -- Battlefield Heroes setting is a silly WW 2 one). This can also happen should you be in, but not driving, a moving vehicle, which is even more dangerous. But since the game is based around the Rule of Fun, it can be assumed it was used for a joke, as such an action is clearly dangerous and stupid. Not to mention scratching your ear with a pistol!
  • Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Lampshaded: When the player points a gun at any member of his squad, the player character diverts the gun away from them. Again, in all other situations, you're free to point weapons and even fire at them when you so choose.
  • Empire: Total War: features the use of a Gentlemen agent which can steal technology or duel other gentlemen of rival factions. If ordered to duel another gentlemen a cinematic scene plays which shows many different outcomes. One of these outcomes has the two duelists march a few paces turn but not fire. Hilariously, one of them looks down the barrel of the gun then the gun promptly discharges in his face. He loses the duel by the way.
  • Grand Theft Auto IV: Niko is pretty careless for an ex-soldier. Leave him standing around holding a pistol, and he'll eventually scratch the back of his head with it with his finger on the trigger.
    • Which is about as stupid as the briefing scene from the Grand Theft Auto: Vice City mission "Supply and Demand" where Ricardo Diaz scratches his nuts with a pistol, complete with finger on trigger. In previous scene, the intro to "The Fastest Boat," he waves a shotgun around, and accidentally points it in the PC's face. It doesn't go off, though Tommy does seem rather concerned.
  • Averted completely in the Operation Flashpoint and Arm A series by Bohemia Interactive. Characters move their fingers out of the trigger guard on a weapon when they lower it. For primary weapons, at least; there's no way to lower a pistol or ordnance launcher without putting them away.
  • Call of Duty 2 Big Red One, averted: When one private points his rifle at someone, the CO yells at him.
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Sometimes averted: When reloading every gun in the game (most obviously on the FAMAS) the player character takes their finger out of the trigger to avoid discharging the weapon. However most all other gun safety rules get tossed out the window, simply looking at a friend requires you to point your loaded gun directly at them with your finger on the trigger, although the game will not allow you to fire in single player. Multiplayer? Fire away!
  • Final Fantasy Tactics: When showing off his gun in a cutscene, Mustadio very clearly points it at Ramza. And if the player acquires a robot weapon of mass destruction, Ramza orders it to beat Mustadio up, only to frantically demand someone bring a Phoenix Down when said robot blasted Mustadio to the floor, though this would be a case of Ramza not knowing just how lethal the damn thing is.
  • Fallout series: Many characters will refuse to talk to you or will even try and kill you if you refuse to put your weapon away in their presence. It's also perfectly possible for your trigger-happy teammates to accidentally blow you to pieces in combat, especially if they're using burst weapons. This was epidemic in the first Fallout, most of your total deaths would be from a friendly AI getting a burst crit 'through' you onto a nearby mob. Fallout 2 permitted you to more carefully micromanage your teammates' combat settings, with an option that only determined the use of burst-fire and included the options "be absolutely certain you won't hit me" and "never use". It's possible they sell the gun and throw in the ammo for free. Flimsy, but the Fallout universe isn't exactly the one most rooted in reason.
    • A welcome aversion is seen in Fallout: New Vegas: The weapon animations exhibit proper trigger discipline, keeping the finger resting on the trigger guard when not aiming down sights or firing.
      • Also the Bommer Tribe would love Stuff Blowing Up but follow major weapon safety to the letter.
  • Red Dead Redemption: You get the FN Model 1903 (called High Power Pistol in the game) when Ross presents it barrel-front to John's stomach. He wants him dead anyway, and he's an asshole.
  • Heavy Rain: If Ethan gets arrested and Jayden intervenes while Blake is vigorously interrogating him, Blake will pull out his gun and point it at Jayden with his finger on the trigger. Which just further drives the point home that Blake is more than a bit reckless, to say the least.
  • Oregon Trail: You can be randomly killed by an accidental gunshot while hunting. Even a gun sheath/holster won't protect you from this.
  • STALKER: Most characters will tell you to holster your weapon and won't talk with you if you don't obey. Some characters may even attack.
  • Halo: Reach: Humorously, one of these supposedly hardened and professional marines in this advertising clip points his automatic weapon at his fellow soldier's groin! Here at 0:50.
  • The Elder Scrolls: In Morrowind and Oblivion holding a weapon while talking to someone will cause them to like you less. This actually is a bit better than games wherein people don't seem to mind that you're holding a weapon in their face.
    • Allies exhibit a similar level of Artificial Stupidity as in the FPS example at the top of the section. To the point where in the Battle of Bruma sequence in Oblivion, where you have dozens of NPC soldiers running around, the greatest danger to them on lower difficulty levels is the Player Character.
    • In Oblivion and Skyrim, the first two games to feature scabbards, several weapons appear to be simply stuck through your belt rather than put into a scabbard for safety.
  • Scarface: The World Is Yours. Unlike most sandbox games the player cannot massacre innocent civillians for the giggles. Tony's entire character revolves around not hurting anyone who never gave him trouble. The gun simply will not fire if the player pulls any silliness.
  • Team Fortress 2: The Scout reloads his pistol by flipping it around while removing the spent magazine, then flipping it back while slipping a new mag in. He does this by pivoting it around his trigger finger (which is still in the trigger guard, mind you) and points it directly at himself when it's flipped around. Not to mention the common practice of shooting your teammates to check if they're really disguised Spies.
  • Arc the Lad Twilight of the Spirits, averted. Tatjana attacks with a gun, but you see her pointing it down and away from her feet whenever she's not firing it or has it holstered. She does hold it up whenever she uses it to perform special attacks and probably has safety on anyways, since she doesn't immediately hold it up and fire. Not to mention, the enemies who attack with guns primarily have them pointed at you and if they use guns for a special attack are shown loading them.
  • Police Quest: you can be deafened if you don't put on headphones. It's stated in-game that the guns are NOT a toy and you have to follow safety procedures with guns.
    • The Police Quest series is all about following correct police procedure. If you click your gun on a suspect, you'll shoot them and get a Game Over where you're chewed out for being trigger-happy. The proper procedure is to use the gun on yourself (to equip it) and then talk to the suspect, which will make your character order them to stand down.
  • Blue Force: you can shoot yourself in the face if you clean your gun and fail to make sure it's unloaded first.
  • League of Legends: Zig-Zagged.
    • Caitlyn is shown with her rifle held over her shoulder. Presumably, whenever she does this it's not loaded or she has safety off. However, she takes a rifle and holds it in one hand while using one of her special attacks. In real life, this is asking for a sprained or broken wrist.
    • Miss Fortune uses Guns Akimbo, but whenever she runs, she quickly holsters them.
    • Tristana likewise always keeps her BFG pointed away from her. Of course; you can have them pointed at their allies albeit unintentionally.
    • Gangplank however has a pistol in hand and has it perpetually pointed up unless he brings it down to fire or use Parrrley. He does this to signal his ship to fire on a target location with his ult, and ironically even used to shoot his own men.
  • Galaxy Angel During your first meeting with Forte Stollen, she is seen demonstrating her skills with a Revolver in the Elle Ciel shooting range. After, presumably, firing every bullet in the chamber she turns around and playfully aims the gun at Tact's face, whom naturally reacts with fear. It's quite jarring, seeing as she is, otherwise, responsible with the handling of firearms.
  • Red Steel 2 averted, the sword and gun Wii game. The Kusigari kid justifiably keeps his finger on the trigger due to the absence of any civilians and the immense presence of bandits, ninja, and other enemies. He keeps his hand over his revolver to keep it steady, has his finger off the trigger when reloading while pointing it down (same with the shotgun, rifle, and machinegun) and to be honest, the only fancy thing he does with his gun is twirl it when he holsters it.
  • Conduit 2. Weapons range from pistols to beam cannons and bio-mass alien weaponry. During idle animations, Ford will inspect his weapon...with one of the "living" Drudge weapons, he actually sticks his finger near the barrel as if to poke it, and the weapon snaps at him.
  • In Gears of War 3, the loading screen and cover has Marcus resting his hands on the muzzle of his lancer rifle.
  • When a World of Warcraft character holds a gun but isn't firing it, they hold it level with the ground, pointing forward, by gripping the heel and trigger.


Webcomics Edit


Web Original Edit

  • Whateley Universe Frequently averted: The Range staff are very, very hot on gun safety, understandably given that they work at a school. A couple of the writers appear to be gun enthusiasts and/or soldiers of one stripe or another. Big deals are made in-universe of the times when people don't follow the rules.
  • Kickassia: It seems like Sage is going to blam himself, doing things like holding up his 'Immortality' Uzi to his head to wipe his tears away. He doesn't.
  • Cracked.com has an article deconstructing this trope, as used in Hollywood.
  • Star Destroyer Dot Net accuses Star Trek's Federation of this, since it takes them until the TNG movies to develop a phaser that has a trigger guard (i.e. the rifles introduced in Star Trek First Contact). These are handheld weapons that have been seen to blow walls off of buildings and make people disappear into thin air.
  • Mostly averted thanks to a glitch in the game engine in Red vs. Blue, a Halo machinima. To keep the characters from looking like they were pointing guns around while talking to one another, the creators were able to exploit a glitch in the first game in which a character would be looking down but would appear to be looking straight ahead, making it appear they lowered their weapon. (In subsequent games, Bungie actually deliberately put this functionality in for the use of machinima makers.) Despite that, everyone still carries around multiple weapons and fire them off for little to no reason on occasion. Perhaps the most egregious example is Tex using Caboose as target practice in her first appearance (shooting around him, not at him). Although she's a highly trained fighter and an excellent shot (as well as an AI, so she theoretically should have perfect aim... if we ignore the example of Church) and she's only a few feet away from him, it's still an insanely dangerous thing to do.


Western Animation Edit

  • Sym-Bionic Titan: Galaluna's military academy has the worst security imaginable. To wit, Baron, who admittedly had the best record at the school, is able to take fully charged laser weapons to try to kill Lance without having to go through any security or check out procedures. They're kept in an unlocked cabinet. It gets worse when they enter the training wing, where both boys are able to hijack fully-armed[1] battle mechs without so much as a security code. The only way to deactivate these things is a shutdown switch built on the mech rather than in a remote station since they are training devices. Another possibility is that the control console was too far away to reach in time to keep the people nearby safe.
  • Gargoyles: Elisa is, at one point, seriously injured when Broadway accidentally shoots her while playing with her gun. Elisa, a NYPD detective, had left her sidearm, holster and gun belt unattended in another room from where she was (she admits later that she should have known better). Notably, she's much more careful for the rest of the series.
  • In Daria, during the Daria Hunters episode, several characters are shown playing paintball without safety goggles on. Granted, Paintball guns are not necessarily deadly weapons, but they still hurt and and can inflict Eye Scream if they hit an unprotected face. Sandi even calls Quinn, Tiffany, and Stacey out on this because the rules of paintball state you're supposed to wear goggles.

Notes

  1. and loaded