Many years ago I had a group of friends over to the house to plan our annual deer hunt. The boys were in the den while I was in the kitchen organizing the refreshment detail. Just then I heard my 5-year old son speak up, “Don't touch that without my dad's permission!”
Upon investigation, I found my friend standing next to my gun case and my son standing nearby. My friend looked at me, pointed his finger at me, and said, “Don't say a word to this boy. He is exactly right.”
As you can imagine, my friend was going to show the other guys my new rifle. And, my son, knowing the gun-safety rules of our house, straightened him out on the need to ask first before touching someone else's firearm. Those of us who have raised kids often wonder if what we are trying to teach them really gets through to them. I got my answer to that question.
Actually, we all need to speak up when we see a safety issue with firearms. We don't need to be dogmatic or forceful because a friendly approach is often the best way to handle things. It might be a new shooter who just doesn't know any better and would really appreciate some help. Or, as much as I hate to admit it, it might just be one of us older shooters who is simply not thinking.
For a time I served as range safety officer for a group that would spend a week together in Colorado, shooting all sorts of guns. The very first morning, I would hold a safety briefing and the first thing that I did was swear everyone in as an Assistant Range Safety Officer, even the wives and kids who might not be shooting. You see, we all have a stake in gun safety.
The same thing holds true in the rare case that you might be in a defensive class where the instructor wants the class to do something that just doesn't look safe to you. However macho the instructor might be, you are still the customer and you have every right to have things explained to your satisfaction. And, if it still doesn't seem safe, that might be the time for you to sack up your gear and go home. Even losing some of your tuition money is way better than being around when bad things happen, especially when it could be happening to you.
With all things regarding firearms in the spotlight right now, it is even more important that we be very conscious of all aspects of gun safety. Don't ever be afraid to speak up over a safety issue. It helps protect our sport and, more importantly, it helps protect the rest of our shooting friends and family.
You are responsible for your own safety... but it sure doesn't hurt to look out for the safety of your friends, too.