Don’t Mistake Basic Gun Safety for US Military Training
An asinine new conspiracy theory suggests Taliban fighters adhering to basic gun safety is indicative of US or NATO training.
One of the more absurd claims I have seen come out of the aftermath of the Afghanistan withdrawal is that the way the Taliban holds guns suggests US military or NATO training. Proponents of this theory latch onto universal aspects of basic gun safety and use them to make wild claims. Even a BBC journalist could not help but partake.
I first learned how to shoot in college. Two of my classmates — civilians in their early 20s — took me to a range and gave me thorough instruction on how to avoid accidentally hurting myself or others with a gun. The three most important things to remember by far?
Always treat the gun as if it is loaded, even if you literally just checked and saw that it was not.
Keep your finger off of the trigger until you are actively focusing on preparing to shoot.
Always keep the gun pointed away from that which you are not okay possibly destroying. This includes, in the case of long-barreled guns like rifles and shotguns, not letting it swing around as you move.
The pictures of the Taliban reflect an understanding of these principles. The latter two are often referred to as “trigger discipline” and “muzzle discipline” respectively. There are other important things to remember, such as treating a gun that failed to fire as possibly at risk of discharging at any moment until the situation is properly diagnosed, as well as making use of “safeties” on guns, features which disable their ability to fire, even if the trigger is pulled.
However, much as you are supposed to treat a gun as if it is always loaded, you are to treat the safety as if it is always off. While an incredibly useful extra line of protection against accidental firing, the most reliable way to prevent accidental harm with a gun is ensuring anyone who handles them has the discipline to handle them in a way that no one is ever put at risk. This is why, even if you just checked and are entirely sure the gun is unloaded, you are still supposed to treat the gun as if it is.
By practicing these principles without deviation, no matter the circumstance, you ensure your risk of causing accidental harm with a gun is minuscule. There are no alternative ways to properly ensure gun safety. These are not secret high-level techniques only taught to Navy SEALs. These are the sorts of things any resource you can find on the subject will tell you.
Some may cite the fact that the US assisted the Mujahideen during the Soviet-Afghan War — often, the Mujahideen is improperly equated with the Taliban. However, that and adherence to basic gun safety is not indicative that present-day Taliban fighters were trained by Western forces. Even if you were to proclaim these principles some sort of arcane, mystical secrets of only advanced militaries — which they very much are not — then it would not be remotely surprising such knowledge would percolate through the country over time.
Though a trained shooter and gun owner myself, I would prefer a society where most people have no need to even know how to use a gun. Ignorance over this subject is understandable. What is not is spinning elaborate conspiracy theories that are based on not even knowing the bare minimum you would need to know before I would even want to be in the same room as you holding a gun. Much as I loathe everything the Taliban represents, it also is of mild reassurance that there is less risk of people accidentally being shot in the chaos currently in Kabul. However, I will continue to hold out hope that Afghanistan will someday finally know meaningful freedom and peace.