Safety Sensibility

The crusty Master Sergeant stood at the front of the room slapping his crippled leg with a whip-thin swagger stick he had removed from a dead enemy on Guadalcanal. His OD green army dress uniform was a perfect background for the seven or so lines of colored ribbons, especially for the one at the top with white stars on a field of blue. Most represented a violent moment in time in this man’s military combat life. He seemed to be 9′ tall when he spoke, but he was really a stretched 5’8″ with his shoes and hat on, all cased in a sinewy 145-pound body. I could only imagine the physical scars that old body held as he lifted the beat up US Property GI .45 to eye level and said, “This, gentleman, is the greatest pistol ever created by man, and the safest pistol on the face of this scorched earth.”

He continued, as we new recruits, awed in the presence of everything we teenage pups assumed a man should be in the late 1950s. “Today, men, we will talk about the safety of the Model 1911-A1, and how you can keep from killing yourself with it. First, the trigger is nothing more than a piece of metal until you put your finger on it. That, you pieces of #&*@%, is your first lesson.

“Second, the grip safety keeps the trigger from being pulled unless the pistol is gripped with a firm, manly hand. The thumb safety, when clicked to the up position, blocks the rear of the sear to stop it from disengaging from the hammer hook. When you click it to the down position, the pistol is hot, ready for bloody business. Then there is the hammer with a half-cock notch designed to catch the hammer before it hits the firing pin if the pistol ever falls to the ground with the hammer cocked. If I catch any one of you pukes dropping your pistol, you better be dead or dying.”

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