It’s a silly story, but one that has to be commented upon if for no other reason than to contest the idiocy shared.

Yesterday,  a writer for Gizmodo, the technology wing of Hillary Clinton fanboy ezine Gawker, ran an apparently sincere article blasting Ted Cruz for what author Wes Siler claimed was unsafe gun-handling during an interview.

Here’s what Siler considers a gross safety violation.

Republican presidential candidate and Senator Ted Cruz is talking to journalists in front of him. He is holding an over/under shotgun with the action open and chambers obvious empty, his hands clearly outside the triggerguard of the shotgun. There is clearly no one behind the Senator, except for a number of buildings several hundred yards in the distance.

Oh my God, it’s gonna be a massacre:

Staunch gun rights advocate Ted Cruz is here seen holding a shotgun while being interviewed by CNN. Can you see what he’s doing wrong? That’s right, he’s violating the first two rules of gun safety.

When you learn to shoot, apply for a hunting or carry license and any time you’re at a gun range, there’s four basic rules of gun safety that — and this is impressed on you very strongly — must be observed at all times:

  1. Treat all guns as if they are loaded.
  2. Never point a firearm at something you’re not willing to destroy.
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
  4. Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.

Properly observed, these rules are almost entirely capable of preventing accidental shootings. And I can’t emphasize how thoroughly they are drilled into shooters both as they’re learning and as they visit any gun range, gun store or participate in any organized hunt.

Siler then tries an appeal to authority, asking a “local hunter and lifetime NRA member” what Cruz did wrong, to which the man replied, the muzzle should always point down.

When you’re talking to children and beginners, it is sometimes helpful to deal in absolutes to simplify a basic lesson.

We hope that as people get older, wiser, and more competent, that they develop discernment and maturity. Perhaps that is a bridge to far in Mr. Siler’s case.

Wes Siler let his clear personal and political disdain for Ted Cruz get the better of him, and in so doing, showed that he could chant Cooper’s rules, but that he clearly didn’t understand them.

Here’s the full explanation of the four rules in Col. Cooper’s  own words, from Coopers’ Commentaries, Vol.6, Number 2.


The only exception to this occurs when one has a weapon in his hands and he has personally unloaded it for checking. As soon as he puts it down, Rule 1 applies again.


You may not wish to destroy it, but you must be clear in your mind that you are quite ready to if you let that muzzle cover the target. To allow a firearm to point at another human being is a deadly threat, and should always be treated as such.


This we call the Golden Rule because its violation is responsible for about 80 percent of the firearms disasters we read about.


You never shoot at anything until you have positively identified it. You never fire at a shadow, or a sound, or a suspected presence. You shoot only when you know absolutely what you are shooting at and what is beyond it.

Ted Cruz unloaded his shotgun, had it in his hands, the action open and chamber empty, and knew it to be unloaded.

He is not in violation of Rule 1.

Cruz’s empty pheasant gun was not pointed at any man or beast within the range of the firearm, even if it had been loaded, which it clearly wasn’t.

He is not in violation of Rule 2.

I left a comment for Mr Siler at his blog.  It was stuck in moderation the last I saw it.

I am a firearms instructor and constant student. For more than 40 hours ever week, I write about, talk about, or shoot firearms. They range from various kinds of handguns and carbines to machine guns to precision rifles and shotguns.

It is perfectly acceptable to carry an over/under shotgun in the manner as Senator Cruz is doing above, with the action open and the both chambers clearly empty, the muzzle pointing away from anyone and anything within 200 yards.

Further, I’d note that your practice of aiming your shotgun at your own feet while climbing a hill as pictured increases the likelihood of you earning the nickname “Stumpy.”

I’d also note that the four rules—created by Col. Jeff Cooper of Gunsite Academy, from whence I’ve recently returned—are not absolute, and are to be used intelligently by human beings capable of reason.

You’re a naif, Wes.

Even worse, you’re letting your political biases destroy your credibility.

Frankly, I’m embarrassed for you.

Hopefully Mr. Siler will learn from his mistake, though reading through his disdainful responses to critics, I rather doubt he is capable.