Firearms and Alcohol Don’t Mix

By Home Defense Gun Staffer David

Firearms and Alcoholfirearms and alcohol

When I was about 17, I was on a deer hunting (?) trip with a high school friend, his father and four uncles. This is what they called deer hunting: We got in a big station wagon, and drove around on a twisting, winding, icy, mountain back road, looking for deer. Their were loaded guns in the car, and a cooler of beer. Everybody but my teenage friend and I , and one of the uncles was drinking. When we actually got out of the car at one point, one of the uncles fingers slipped on his .308 and he put a round over his brother’s head from about five feet away. Neither of them flinched. Unsafe gun handling, driving drunk, with loaded guns in the car, on hazardous roads. Needless to say, we didn’t see many deer. I never went out with these guys again.

Deadly Mixture

I have been a Drug and Alcohol counselor for 14 years, an alcohol educator for a program for drunk drivers for four more, , and have also taught psychology and criminology classes during that entire time. Unlike some members of my profession, I am not in recovery from Alcoholism myself, , so I can enjoy alcohol containing beverages as long as use them responsibly. I prefer quality over quantity, when It comes to both guns and alcoholic beverages. I like Brandy, Cognac, Single malt scotch, red wine and bitter ale. I also like guns. I will not even clean an unloaded gun after having a drop of one of the above beverages. Owning a gun is a cherished right. With that right, comes a great responsibility. The gun owner is obligated to always be safe and responsible with their gun. There are two things you should never touch after drinking alcohol- car keys, or a gun. Bad things can happen. Have you ever read the several words in fine print on most bottles of an alcoholic beverage? “ please drink responsibly? “ what does that mean exactly? Don’t spill any? Don’t put your glass near the edge of the table? Here’s how. firearms and alcohol

When you drink a beverage containing the drug Ethanol, (drinking alcohol) , your judgment, reflexes, balance, coordination, manual dexterity, and vision all become impaired, while your emotions become both enhanced and distorted. When a gun is added, this is a very bad combination. That is one definition of irresponsibility with alcohol.

Think of the procedures you have to follow for safe gun handling. If there is ever a time to be obsessive compulsive this it is it. Open the action and visually confirm the chamber is clear. For some reason, that is not enough for me and I like to stick my finger in the chamber just to reassure myself. Never trust the safety, but make sure it is on anyway. Two things that I notice the most frequently that make for unsafe handling: sweeping people with the muzzle, and not indexing the trigger. You have to always be mindful of where your muzzle is pointing, and not sweep it across anyone as you move. Your finger should be alongside the trigger guard, never touching the trigger until you are ready to fire. All of this is before you even load your gun. If people don’t follow these procedures when they are completely straight and sober, how well will they do after drinking?

When handling a gun, you need to be 100% alert , sharp and attentive. This is especially true for new shooters/hunters who have not yet developed good safety as a habit and muscle memory, and who still need to consciously think about gun safety procedures. If you drink, do it after you are finished shooting or hunting for the day, and the guns are unloaded and put away. As noted above, I suggest not even handling or cleaning a gun if you have consumed any amount of alcohol. There is no safe amount of alcohol to consume and touch a gun.

Why such extreme rules?

There is a very narrow margin for error when handling a firearm. To put it very simply, if you squeeze the trigger of a loaded gun, a little piece of metal will fly out of one end very fast. If it hits anyone, it will release up to several thousand pounds of kinetic energy in an area about the size of a dime or quarter in a fraction of a second. This is called ballistic trauma- damage to muscle, bones, blood vessels and organs which will result in death or a life changing injury to the recipient. For the under- the- influence shooter, the result will be criminal charges, a lawsuit, your name in the paper, standing before a judge, possibly seeing the inside of a cell, and having to look at yourself in a mirror. And you may personally forfeit your rights to own a gun. Everybody, please think real hard about this.

Both alcohol and guns are potentially dangerous, and must be handled with appropriate respect. If you have been drinking, and then you handle a gun, accidents can happen, and someone can get shot. Don’t ever act in a manner to give the anti-gun crowd more ammo.

Do you have any thoughts and/or experiences about mixing guns and alcohol? Let us know in the comments.


Photo Credit – Flickr




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