Some people seem to doubt that it’s really important to keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot (#2 in the NRA list of safety rules). I was looking through the Big Picture’s collection of news photos from the Hunduran coup, and I can’t find a single trigger finger where it shouldn’t be—in pictures of young soldiers in a third-world country deployed in a coup that is at least possibly illegal; arguably not likely to be the best-trained soldiers on the planet, and perhaps not as focused as is ideal. But they’re still getting this bit right; this suggests it’s deeply ingrained in the training they got.
I’m picking this as an example of proper gun handling because you so rarely see it on TV; it’s nice to see it right now and then. The question of whether they’re morally right or legally right to use deadly force (or its threat) in these conditions is another matter entirely, which I’m not raising here.
I’m not going to reproduce the pictures here what with copyright and all; they’re over there.
Picture 4 (ORLANDO SIERRA/AFP/Getty Images) is the one that first caught my attention. The soldier in the foreground very clearly has his trigger finger indexed along the frame, up off the trigger. Then I started looking around, and realized that at least two others in the picture can be seen to have it right. Three others I can’t tell about (one, mostly behind the front soldier, you can’t see his hands at all). And the guy on the far left might possibly have it wrong, but I can’t be sure at web resolution.
Picture 5 doesn’t show any hands on guns close enough to have any idea. 6-11 show even less.
Then in #12 (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo) there are two clear samples, both right. Even the soldier in the middle, mouth open yelling, and gas grenade in his left hand, has his finger properly indexed while holding his rifle one-handed.
#13 (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo) is a quite striking photo of a soldier prodding a civilian in the back with the muzzle of his rifle, with his finger neatly indexed up on the frame away from the trigger. And, um, no magazine in the rifle, so far as I can see. The guys back in #4 definitely have magazines. Huh, #12 doesn’t seem to either. (There could still be a round in the chamber.)
#18 (REUTERS/Oswaldo Rivas) definitely has a magazine inserted, and his finger is on the trigger. But he’s also described as firing his weapon, and an ejected casing is shown in the air. One might argue about rule #1, but there’s no doubt he intends to shoot.
And I don’t find any other pictures of soldiers holding rifles at the ready in this set, so here endeth the lesson.