Nothing Pretty Ever Comes Out of a Bottle.
“Nothing pretty ever comes out of a bottle.” That is what my friend said to me when he called from Anchorage. He had flown there to claim the body of a young man that was like a son to him. This young man had lived in his home with his family for years and recently moved into an attached apartment.
One night he was drinking with a buddy. He swung out the cylinder of his .44 magnum, dumped the rounds, and snapped it shut. He placed the pistol against his head and squeezed the trigger. The first time the hammer clicked. The second time it fired. It wasn’t pretty.
Why is it that an otherwise safe, responsible firearm owner feels that it is necessary to put a pistol against his head and squeeze the trigger once he gets enough alcohol in his body? We hear about it all the time – remember the Navy SEAL who shot himself in the head in an alcoholic demonstration that his pistol was unloaded? Within days of learning about the death of my friend’s young friend, I heard of two others in other parts of the country who shot themselves in the same way.
“Drink responsibly!” That is the message that we hear repeated so often, but is it possible to be responsible when you are drinking? I will argue that it is not. Becoming impaired physically and mentally is not really the most responsible thing to do. When people become intoxicated, they lose the ability to act responsibly. I have seen people sit down in the middle of bonfires. I have seen a guy in a t-shirt spend 15 minutes in twenty below weather trying to catch the windshield wipers on his car, because he wanted them stopped. I have had friends who would never make a decision when they were sober to drive drunk who got DWIs because once they were drinking, they could not make a responsible decision. I once bought a watch from a soldier who got drunk and emptied his checking and saving accounts (several thousand dollars) at a strip bar and returned to the barracks without enough gas to drive home to his wife.
So we have established that the act of becoming intoxicated is irresponsible in itself, and the more a person drinks, the less responsible and rational he or she becomes. Since this is the case, people who are drinking should never have access to a firearm, just as they should never have access to a vehicle, or fly an airplane, or any other activity that requires concentration and awareness.
If you are going to be using firearms, don’t drink. Don’t drink when you are shooting, don’t drink when you are hunting. Don’t drink at the gunshow or when you are working on firearms or reloading ammo. Don’t drink while concealed carrying. I will go a step further, and say that people need to stop with photos and videos that mix alcohol with guns. I know that many shooters like to drink, but promoting an association between alcohol and firearms should be left to the ATFE. Otherwise it can encourage unsafe firearm use and promote anti-gun stereotypes.
If you are going to drink, make sure you don’t have access to your firearm. Treat it just as you would treat your car keys, because once you are drinking, you may not have the capacity to make the right decision. And no, you are not the exception.