Firearm safety should always be the cornerstone of any Firearms Q&A site. Which should mean that any question that involves a safety violation indicates that the OP has a lack of understanding of Firearm Safety.

A question such as "How to disable a gun so it can be used as part of my halloween costume?" is in regards to an extremely unsafe firearm practice. By an overwhelming majority, it was voted as off-topic.

It's important to consider that the proposal phase was meant to identify questions that were on topic and off topic, not questions that were asked by people who were inexperienced, unsafe, or otherwise lacking in basic common sense.

By including questions that indicate the OP practices unsafe firearm handling techniques, our community has an opportunity to perhaps save lives by educating the OP on the proper safety procedures in hopes that the OP will serve as a good example to others around him or her.

By immediately deleting questions such as this, we don't prevent firearm safety dangers; instead, we discard our responsibility as leaders and leave these individuals to their own devices.

If Firearms is going to move forward, Firearm Safety must also be included since every contributor to this site should be an expert on Firearm Safety and help moderate by reinforcing these safety procedures when necessary.

Proposal: Firearms

  • 3
    "extremely unsafe firearm practice". And illegal too: i recently heard about someone who was carrying a .38 with no firing pin for self defense in a state that doesn't allow you to carry firearms, and even though it was unoperable (no firing pin), the judge ruled it was legally a weapon Aug 3, 2011 at 23:09
  • @Nate - I can understand. When someone has what others perceive to be a loaded and functional weapon, it can put that person in danger, as well as other people who react to the site of that perceived weapon.
    – jmort253
    Aug 12, 2011 at 18:57

4 Answers 4


The question could have been posed intentionally off-topic or in jest. It doesn't read very serious to me.

I would think a smart guy like OP Adam Davis wouldn't go around with a handgun on Halloween.

But, of course, you are right, people who respond with unsafe answers on the proposed site should be downvoted or flagged.

From Comments:

...it seems like some sites need an omni-present disclaimer to prevent reckless people from blaming the site. If we ever have legal or medical sites we'll probably need the same thing.

  • 4
    Adam was trying to show a creative example of a great safety question we might encounter. Another one is "Is it okay to point a weapon at someone if both people have verified the weapon is unloaded?" It's a question that's not covered in gun safety manuals, but those of us with experience and common sense know the answer. People less experienced might not understand that the rule is immutable. You just don't point a weapon at anyone, period! It's important that community leaders clearly explain the what-ifs in this situation. Deleted questions don't educate the inexperienced.
    – jmort253
    Feb 9, 2011 at 8:22
  • 2
    @jmort253 - good points, it seems like some sites need an omni-present disclaimer to prevent reckless people from blaming the site. If we ever have legal or medical sites we'll probably need the same thing. Feb 9, 2011 at 16:33
  • @Mark - Very good point about the disclaimer. We should make sure that gets put in place when this goes to beta. :)
    – jmort253
    Feb 10, 2011 at 4:18
  • @Mark - Can you add the disclaimer note to your answer? Thanks!
    – jmort253
    Feb 10, 2011 at 4:24
  • @JMort I agree that unsafe answers should be downvoted, etc; but I don't see how this addresses whether the question is on/off-topic?
    – mfg
    Mar 10, 2011 at 14:49
  • @mfg - Sorry for the delayed response. I simply had the impression that most voted it as off-topic because they thought it demonstrated lack of firearm safety awareness. Instead of the community deleting this question, I'd sincerely hope that the community would answer this question with safety in mind and leave that question as a sign-post to discourage this or other ridiculous ideas that concern safety. (I know Adam Davis doesn't intend to do this as he's a smart guy and it's a sample question, but if someone asked it "for real", I would hope the community would set that person straight!)
    – jmort253
    Aug 12, 2011 at 19:04

Perhaps I'm misreading why this should be off-topic. It seems not only on topic but exemplary in defining how not to treat guns and gives an opportunity to explain why.

With respect to matters of safety and idiocy, I would want a site that doesn't close these things as off topic. Many questions on cooking for instance involve addressing food-safety. I agree with Jengu's response: Scary question to delete. If someone wanted to learn how to do this, I would want them to find the overwhelming screams of "DON'T DO IT!"

If I were just 5% dumber than I currently am, I might go ask on Seasoned Advice, "hey, is it okay to eat my fried chicken off the cutting board that I prepared the raw chicken on to save on clean-up?" In this case, I might be too dumb to even realize the potential risks. If this question is considered off-topic and closed, or not a good example of a question, then it sets a precedent for not allowing for many teachable situations.

I know in some cases off topic questions are answered and closed, but I think this should not be one of those scenarios. The problem with this approach is that then, someone looking for topically similar information won't likely come across this question, or may be confused as to why it is closed. It should be left open so that it is a relevant search result.

We should see the value in situations where someone asks a question, and not only gets an answer the behavior in check, but further explains the problems associated with the risks inherent to the behavior. I would think that a Firearm stack would take every opportunity to explain not just that, yes in fact that is a bad idea, but furthermore, *here's why...*.

Those are the really rewarding and valuable questions/answers.

  • Regarding your analogy: food safety is not only on-topic, but has a tag on Seasoned Advice. Apr 2, 2011 at 2:20
  • @and right, that's why I would want this question to be on topic, I think off topic would might define the site in a way contradictory to its purpose and audience
    – mfg
    Apr 2, 2011 at 4:25
  • I totally agree about avoiding the automatic "closed - off topic" if the question warrants a serious answer. I see too much of in another site that I am involved in that is controlled by a small segment of specialists who think that unless they think it is "on-topic" it should be closed.
    – drj
    Oct 30, 2011 at 6:05

It should have been voted "not a good example" rather than "off-topic." It's not a good example of on-topic questions, nor a good example of off-topic questions. As your very questions show, voting it off-topic might confuse people into thinking firearm safety isn't on-topic.

Many people misunderstand the purpose of the "great off-topic" voting option.

  • 1
    Looking back, I got caught up in this a few times I think. I probably saw things that were "absolutely NOT on-topic" and voted them "off-topic" in a zealous attempt to find enough on and off topic questions to push this to the next phase. Thinking about this more, I agree. There's a huge middle road of not ideal on-topic questions that absolutely are not off-topic.
    – kbyrd
    Feb 8, 2011 at 22:50

By that logic, would "How do I parse HTML with regular expressions?" be off-topic for Stack Overflow? Or is the fact that the gun question could cause real-life harm the difference?

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .