Gun safety: Loading and unloading the AR-15 (Except in California!)

I came across this video from NSSF on the steps necessary to safely load and unload the AR-15…

Now that you’ve watched the whole video, you California shooters go back and replay the video from about 2:10. Gunsite instructor Jay Tuttle tells us that to safely unload the AR-15, “The first thing we need to do is remove the ammunition source.” This is true for any semi-automatic firearm. Merely racking the slide or the charging handle loads the next live round in the magazine if the magazine is still there. Mr. Tuttle then reaches up with his trigger finger and, just like they do in Free America, he touches the magazine release and drops the magazine. Unlike us Californians, he doesn’t fumble for a tool of some sort to activate his State-mandated “bullet button”.

So for the non-shooters out there, let me be a little more pedantic about this. Here in California, the “experts” in Sacramento outlawed semiautomatic rifles with detachable magazines. Mind you, I’m talking about a feature that’s been on firearms for over a hundred years. More specifically, what the Legislature banned were centerfire rifles with magazines that can be removed without using a tool of some sort. The stated purpose of this law was to “slow down” the reloading process.

To get around this ban, manufacturers replaced the magazine release button on firearms such as the AR-15 with a shroud. The purpose of this shroud is to force the operator to use a tool of some sort to operate the magazine release. Since a bullet’s tip will suffice as a tool for the purposes of the law, these got called “bullet buttons”. There are after-market “buttons” that stick to the release pin using a magnet, but it’s illegal to leave these on the rifle. Others attach to the magazine itself. There are also rings one can buy with a small point for activating the release. None of these are anywhere near as efficient at the MK-I fingertip. (The magnetic buttons come close; but like I said, it’s illegal to leave these on your gun and you can be charged with a felony for doing so.)

“So what?” you may be asking. “Isn’t that the point of the law? To make reloading difficult?” That was certainly the intent of the law. However, one of the real effects of the law is that it makes it more difficult to unload the firearm to render it safe. If you compare the video above to some out there demonstrating various bullet button tools, you will see that Mr. Tuttle does something that the people in those other videos can’t: he unloads the firearm blind. Everything he does is by touch alone so he can keep his eyes downrange and on his target. In the other videos, the shooters are taking their eyes off the target and refocusing their attention on the side of the gun. Mr. Tuttle also keeps his rifle pointed safely downrange the whole time. The other shooters are moving their guns around to access the button in awkward, and potentially unsafe, ways.

So the end effect of a law that was marketed as a “gun safety” measure is to make operating a firearm less safe. Kinda par for the course when talking about the California Legislature.