How to correctly hand over a firearm.
December 13, 2009 9:13 PM   Subscribe

How do you correctly hand a firearm over to another person?

My mother, who lives alone, has a 38 revolver for protection. She goes to a shooting range often. I'm confident in her shooting abilities.

However, she's going to take her revolver into a gun shop to answer a few questions. I asked her if she knew exactly how to hand the gun over, and she really doesn't know. I'm fearing that she's going to whip it out and everyone in the store is going to hit the floor.

Can anyone tell me (I know very little about guns) what the proper procedure is for bringing her gun to the counter and handing it over for inspection without causing a scene?
posted by gtr to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (19 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Walk into the shop and ask the man at the counter how she should take her gun out and hand it to him?
posted by dfriedman at 9:15 PM on December 13, 2009

What I mean is: the guy working in the gun shop would know this and has probably had other customers ask the same thing.
posted by dfriedman at 9:16 PM on December 13, 2009

Open, visibly unloaded, pointed at the floor in the direction of the person handing it over, thumb stuck between the hammer and the rest of the gun. That's the way I've been taught to do it. I don't think this a big deal, just don't point it at anybody.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 9:16 PM on December 13, 2009

The gun shops I have been in have instructed me to enter with the gun unloaded and preferably a case or box, proceed directly to the counter, place the container on the counter and wait for an employee to inspect the firearm to verify its unloaded. They are most likely used to people with guns coming in the store, so as long as she enters calmly and makes no sudden movements everything will be fine. If she does not have something to put it in, I have seen people walk up to the counter and tell the employee there that they have a unloaded gun on them and wish to present it for inspection. Every gun store I have been to in Charlotte has a sign either on the door or right in the door telling you what to do with a gun when entering.

If she does not have a Concealed Carry license then she will need to be careful how she transports the gun and carries it into the store.
posted by token-ring at 9:22 PM on December 13, 2009 [2 favorites]

I think that's right, just put the case on the counter.

For reference though: among my acquaintances the careful way to hand someone a revolver is with the cylinder open, offering them the handle while holding it by the top of the open frame. Your fingers are where the cylinder would have to be for the gun to fire, and they can see that the cylinder is not loaded.

(The careful way to hand someone an automatic is with the magazine out and the slide locked back.)
posted by nicwolff at 9:39 PM on December 13, 2009

The movement of the gun muzzle and corresponding potential bullet discharge vector must NEVER (however briefly) cross, pass, or arc in a manner that, should an accidental discharge occur, said cross, pass or arc and and corresponding potential accidentally discharged bullet vector would result in any bodily injury or fatality.
posted by Muirwylde at 10:05 PM on December 13, 2009

Best answer: The key words here are "open and empty." Any time you pass a gun to someone else, you should open the action (on a revolver, open the cylinder) and orient it so the other person can see that it is empty.

The gun should be brought into the store unloaded, in some sort of carrying case, and with a lock on it if required by state law while in transport. Then, as part of handing it over, you or your mother should open the cylinder and pass it to the clerk grip-first, or at least turn it so they can visually inspect the cylinder. (Do so without pointing the muzzle at anyone or reaching your finger inside the trigger guard, of course.)

On side-opening revolvers I'll often pass one by holding it by the frame's top strap, and placing a finger through where the cylinder would be if it were closed. This makes it impossible for the cylinder to close, and avoids grabbing by the barrel (which tends to point it towards yourself, and also leads to a lot of unnecessary fingerprints on the finish). This is not possible on a top-break revolver, but that would be pretty unlikely in your case I suspect.

The hammer shouldn't be cocked so there wouldn't be an opportunity or need to put your thumb under it. I've never actually seen anyone do that. (I guess it would be a more-safe way of passing someone a loaded revolver, but that's not the scenario we're talking about and not something that's generally considered a good idea anyway.) I'd just not fiddle around with the hammer at all.

It is good practice to refuse an offered gun until the person passing it over opens the action and orients it in such a way that it can be seen to be empty. I.e.: don't be insulted if you go to hand the clerk the gun and are asked (perhaps pointedly) to open the action, if you forget to do it yourself. The best gun stores, IMO, are the ones that don't hesitate to get prickly about safety.

Even if your mother has a concealed-carry permit, she should not bring a gun in to have work done concealed on her person. I've been in some stores where they even have an explicit policy that if you want to have work done or otherwise work with your CCW/backup gun, you need to leave the store (go to your car), make it safe and empty, and then bring it back in. They don't want any sort of loading/unloading going on in the store.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:13 PM on December 13, 2009 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Not what you asked, but if she doesn't know how to hand a gun over she might not know this either. If she should have the misfortune of getting pulled over while driving with the gun to the store, I'm told that this is the correct protocol:

0. have the gun unloaded in a box in the boot
1. open the driver-side window so she and the policeman can speak
2. put both hands high atop the steering wheel
3. when the policeman asks for her papers, do not reach for them, but rather say, "I have a licensed gun. It's unloaded in a box in the boot. Is it okay if I [her next action]?"

Which is really the same idea as everyone above telling you to ask the clerk what he wants done with the gun, except that the clerk probably isn't himself armed and half expecting to get shot already.
posted by d. z. wang at 10:23 PM on December 13, 2009

Response by poster: Wow, thank you everyone for all the great answers. I feel much better now, and my mother will also.
posted by gtr at 11:16 PM on December 13, 2009

"3. when the policeman asks for her papers, do not reach for them, but rather say, "I have a licensed gun. It's unloaded in a box in the boot. Is it okay if I [her next action]?""

Offering the information when not prompted for it sounds weird and might be construed as a threat. If it's locked in a box in the boot, what's the point in telling the police officer "I have a gun" unless he's asking for your consent to search the vehicle?
posted by tehloki at 12:40 AM on December 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

If it's locked in a box in the boot, what's the point in telling the police officer "I have a gun" unless he's asking for your consent to search the vehicle?

Bad bad bad bad bad BAD advice. I happened to be in the courtroom when a man was on trial for this very thing. He was a government contractor who got pulled over for speeding. He didn't disclose that he had a licensed, unloaded weapon in his car, and when the police officer went to run the man's license, he saw that he had a carry permit. The officer came back to the car, asked the man if he had a gun in the car. The man said yes, and he was arrested for reckless endangerment (I think). He ended up getting off with a warning in the end, but your mother does NOT want to go through an ordeal like this, even if it's an unlikely chance.
posted by joshrholloway at 4:54 AM on December 14, 2009

It's a requirement of a concealed carry permit that you notify the police as soon as you're pulled over, at least where I am.

Not sure about transporting a locked gun, but this is the one time I'd volunteer info to a cop BEFORE things got to the point where he was searching me. Walking to my trunk to open it for an officer is not the time I want to be making him even more nervous by letting him know I have a gun.
posted by paanta at 6:13 AM on December 14, 2009

Also, in most states, you have to keep the gun and the ammo in separate areas of the car (i.e. trunk and passenger compartment), and the gun must be in a locked container. No ammunition can be stored in the container holding the gun.
posted by electroboy at 6:36 AM on December 14, 2009

electroboy, I'm not sure where you're getting "most states" from. At least in the midwest, most states require that the gun be unloaded and in a closed case, but not locked.
posted by craven_morhead at 7:33 AM on December 14, 2009

Around here it's "locked compartment", which, if you drive a pickup has to be a separate, locked case. You also have to be going to or from a range or repair shop, which isn't generally an issue.
posted by electroboy at 9:02 AM on December 14, 2009

Does that mean soft-shell rifle cases are pretty much out, unless you have a trunk?
posted by craven_morhead at 10:03 AM on December 14, 2009

Nope, only applies to handguns, strangely. If you're transporting guns interstate, both guns and ammo have to be in a locked compartment that's inaccessible from the passenger area.
posted by electroboy at 10:20 AM on December 14, 2009

Ah, I hand't thought of possible handgun/rifle divides. My comment re: the midwest was only applicable to rifles/shotguns, since that's what I have experience with. Interesting.
posted by craven_morhead at 10:35 AM on December 14, 2009

Okay, I guess if it's the law in your state then definitely tell you cop you have a gun, but if it isn't, I'd avoid it because it totally sounds like a thinly veiled threat.
posted by tehloki at 4:56 AM on December 16, 2009

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