Col. Jeff Cooper (1920–2006) was a US Marine, the creator of the modern technique of handgun shooting, and an expert on the use and history of small arms. He introduced the concept of the mental alertness color code which indicates the degree of peril a person is willing to act upon and which facilitates a person to move from one level of mindset to another (situational awareness) to enable the person to properly handle a given situation.
As a way of encouraging universal firearm safety, Col. Cooper also advocated a simple 4-point set of rules anyone can understand:
- EVERY gun is loaded until proven otherwise.
- Point the muzzle ONLY at what you want to destroy.
- Put your finger on the trigger ONLY when you’re ready to fire.
- KNOW your target and what’s behind and around it.