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Suppose that someone is pointing a gun right at you.

He's not really convinced about shooting, so you talk and manage to get very close.

You keep talking and you can actually put a hand on the gun, but he's not letting it go.

Now:

  • If the gun is a revolver type:
    • If the hammer is already all the way back, would it be possible to prevent the gun from firing by putting your thumb between the hammer and the body of the gun?
    • If the hammer is not already set, the cylinder has to turn to be able to shoot. Would you be able to prevent firing by having your hand firmly on the cylinder?
  • If the gun is a "slider" type (not sure about the actual type name), would you be able to prevent it from firing by having a firm grip on the slider?
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closed as off-topic by Mołot, Lio Elbammalf, SZCZERZO KŁY, StephenG, Bellerophon Jan 3 at 15:14

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ Fun question. Are you planning on this being a thing people regularly do in your world? I ask because if this is a worldbuilding question the answers are different to if you’re asking about real life (for starters, this isn’t the place to ask about real life!!) $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Jan 3 at 9:46
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    $\begingroup$ How is it a question about building fictional worlds? It looks like a perfect example of story set in a world, one of our close reasons. $\endgroup$ – Mołot Jan 3 at 9:52
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    $\begingroup$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because there are youtube videos that answer your question. $\endgroup$ – SZCZERZO KŁY Jan 3 at 12:44
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    $\begingroup$ I do not see this as "Too Story based" - I admit it is very close. It is asking not about a character reaction, it is not about a single character (though one is used in its example), its not even asking "how would somebody X" (it already states he did X) - as such it is asking if within his world's system (which happens to be similar to the real-world) would this be possible. <- which is not too story-based @Molot $\endgroup$ – LinkBerest Jan 3 at 15:45
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    $\begingroup$ @SZCZERZOKŁY, the existence of a youtube video is a good reason for downvoting due to lack of research, not for closing. Most of the questions here have an answer somewhere (e.g. all those involving orbital mechanics), but we don't close them "because there is an answer somewhere". To me this is not even too story based, but a perfectly fine reality check question. $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica Jan 3 at 18:34
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I agree with most L.Dutch says, including the point that only skilled and heroic characters should attempt this. One little issue regarding the semi-automatic pistol:

Racking the slide back and holding it open should prevent fire. Pulling it back ejects the unfired round in the chamber, holding it prevents the chambering of a new round. It might be possible (but painful) to jam a finger in somewhere to prevent the grip from slipping.

(Disclaimer: I don't know that from personal experience. Sounds like a way to the Darwin Awards. But the mechanics seem straightforward.)

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    $\begingroup$ if you hold your hand over the ejection port while racking the slide back, the unfired bullet will bounce back into the chamber double loading it and possibly jamming the mechanism. $\endgroup$ – ratchet freak Jan 3 at 12:40
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    $\begingroup$ I can't access it right now, but I think Darwin Awards committee excludes criminal and war activities from its nominees. $\endgroup$ – Mindwin Jan 3 at 13:08
  • $\begingroup$ @Mindwin, testing my description on the shooting range might be stupid but not criminal, depening on the legislation. $\endgroup$ – o.m. Jan 3 at 13:11
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    $\begingroup$ You don't need to hold the slide all the way back to prevent firing on a semiauto, pushing it even slightly out of battery is sufficient. This is by design, if the gun could fire "out of battery" (that is, not entirely closed) it would be extremely dangerous to the user. $\endgroup$ – Deolater Jan 3 at 13:19
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A somewhat silly solution:

A good bunch of handguns have a considerable amount of empty space behind the trigger. If you can slide your finger there, you'll prevent the trigger from being pulled at all, so no firing can take place.

enter image description here

Keep in mind that the possibility of pulling this off varies wildly with every trigger design. Some weapons have enough space to put a finger behind the trigger, others don't, others don't even have any gap there. Furthermore, as @JGreenwell points out, some modifications can change the weapon's behavior and cause the weapon to fire even when there is space to do such a thing.

That said, since this is your work of fiction, it is not hard at all to set up things to make this trick possible by choosing a proper handgun for the scene.

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  • $\begingroup$ The arrow points to the front of the trigger - don't you mean the back? So the trigger cannot move backwards? Or are you suggesting something else? $\endgroup$ – Erik Jan 3 at 11:52
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    $\begingroup$ @Erik Actually that was an oversight of my part. It was part of the original image, and it came with the cropped one I made. I'll fix it. $\endgroup$ – T. Sar - Reinstate Monica Jan 3 at 12:32
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    $\begingroup$ @Erik There, fixed. Added hand-drawn circles, arrows and text for improved silliness. $\endgroup$ – T. Sar - Reinstate Monica Jan 3 at 12:35
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    $\begingroup$ An adult's finger won't fit behind the trigger of most handguns, and the shooter's hand is already blocking the way entirely on one side. Especially if it is being held with both hands like cops do, both sides might be covered. $\endgroup$ – Mindwin Jan 3 at 13:11
  • $\begingroup$ @Mindwin it depends a lot on the gun. A DA/SA gun like the pictured CZ-75 definitely has enough room for an adult's finger behind the trigger (I can post a picture later if we insist). But you're right, on a Glock you might be able to hook a finger tip there, but not the whole finger, and on a 1911 there is no gap and it's impossible. $\endgroup$ – Deolater Jan 3 at 13:22
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Other people have answered but nobody has actually given reasons this is done/not done so let me relate my military police training:

First, yes to all of your questions with a bit of a caveat: there are small hammer and hammer-less guns which prevent blocking the hammer (see pg. 3 and 20 of police tactics document) so only option there is cylinder2 or slide.

Now for what officers and military teach for this situation:

  1. Gross-motor skills are limited in "fight or flight" situations (pg. 14). So reaching, grabbing, and trying to stick fingers or remember to hold a weapon "just so" are not skills you want to rely on. What we do teach is to use your elbows and knees and grab the weapon with both hands. Part of the reason is that if I have both hands on the weapon I at least have a chance to stop the slide, hammer, or cylinder.1

  2. Use improvised weapons - for officers this involves getting them to know that "if I have a heavy radio/clipboard/pen it will hurt when I swing it" (pg.9-11). So the tactics would be more to ensure the muzzle is not pointed at you - again with gross-motor skills this involves more of a push or grabbing the wrist for better control - then bashing the suspect with whatever you got or even just throw stuff at him to distract and confuse so you can either get away or get in close. In fact, we advise against grabbing the actual gun3 because if it does fire - your hand will now be damaged (burned or "bitten"1).

So yes, yes you can stop the hammer, cylinder, or slide and have a handgun not fire but if it happens it would likely look more like the above than anything like hollywood shows.

Police Survival Guide, Police: the law enforcement magazine

1 Search for beretta bite if you want to know what that pain looks like

2 There is a story in Ip Man's biography (and portrayed in the movie from it) that he once knocked the cylinder out of an old (pre-WWII to WWII) revolver - unknown validity

3 At this point, the idea would be once the suspect is in pain/distracted - then try and take the gun using standard hand-to-hand techniques. However, I've actually seen another officer grab a suspect weapon when doing this and manage to both stop the gun from firing and pop the magazine out (he admitted it was dumb luck, surprised him as much as suspect, but it happens)

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  • $\begingroup$ Even if what you say is correct, it does not actually answer the question IMHO. Still it is a good addition to what has already been said. $\endgroup$ – Pierre P. Jan 3 at 15:21
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    $\begingroup$ @AzirisMorora The first paragraph says yes it could work, answering the question, the rest is just the "why don't officers/military/other people trained at handling situations like this grab weapons like this" or "how is it more likely to work". $\endgroup$ – LinkBerest Jan 3 at 15:27
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For a revolver type, blocking the hammer or the cylinder can prevent firing. I think these are two of the reasons why a revolver can get jammed and fail to fire.

For an automatic or semi automatic gun, the slider moves after the shot has been fired to allow the expulsion of the muzzle. So, even if you were able to hold it in place, the bullet would already be travelling to its target.

In both cases, considering that the gun won't be calmly in place but its holder would probably attempt to shake it free from your grip, I think it's, to put it mildly, a rather daring attempt.

Addendum: incidentally, I just watched City Hunter, season 1 episode 35. They prevent the bad guy from firing a revolver exactly by holding the barrel.

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    $\begingroup$ Actually, and if I am not mistaken, it is the way to go to to 'safely' de-arm some models which does not feature a decocker - hold the hammer while pulling the trigger slowly releasing the hammer afterwards. $\endgroup$ – wondra Jan 3 at 12:10
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    $\begingroup$ For a semi automatic pistol, the slide moves after firing due to being driven by the recoil, or in some pistols, by gas pressure. The movement of the slide controls the cycling of the action. If the slide is pushed partway back before firing, the action is unlocked and the weapon will not fire. If the slide if forced fully to the rear, the action is cycled and the round ejected, but the hammer or striker is also rechecked, so if the slide is allowed forward again, a new round is chambered and the weapon is ready to fire. $\endgroup$ – Thucydides Jan 3 at 13:21
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TL;DR : Most of the time, yes.

It is actually very possible for both type of handguns.

A semi automatic handgun (the one you call slider) can, on its own, fail to go into battery. I'll let you look for pictures but the point is that the slide did not complete its travel to "close", even by as few as 1 or 2 millimeters. The striker then can't hit the primer on the bullet therefore gun not firing. Applying pressure on a loaded gun with your hand to get slide slightly back would effectively partially disarm the firearm.

Blocking the hammer on a classic revolver pistol will have the desired effect. Why do I precise classic ? Because some revolvers, mostly subcompacts only have internal hammers which can't be grabbed.

Another solution could be engaging the safety or blocking the trigger but those are even more complicated and risky.

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I see lots of speculation here, but there is no need. Infantry soldiers are trained to deal with this situation. If someone is pointing a loaded and non-safety firearm at a person and has a finger on the trigger, there is no way to disable the weapon from firing.

The proper way to handle such a situation is to push the firearm down in the direction opposite the hand on the trigger. That is the direction in which the hand is weakest and least likely to cause an accidental discharge. Needless to say, it is very risky and your hero would do good to jump in the opposite direction as well as push. Keep in mind that the weapon will likely discharge, so don't do that if your daughter is standing to that side. Just take the bullet yourself in that situation.

To make the task easier, have your hero distract the weapon-holder. Perhaps the hero could glance at a non-existent object behind the weapon-holder, causing the weapon-holder to momentarily glance rearward.

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Whilst doable in real-life, this has some "precedence" in fiction. Spoilers for Neal Stephenson's Reamde, below:

Towards the end of the novel 'Readme', the character Zula is being held hostage in the classic pose of "the bad guy being behind her, holding her close with one arm and using the other to point a gun at her temple".

At some point during the negotiations between the bad guy and Zula's allies, the bad guy "cocks" the hammer on the gun to be more menacing and to make his threats seem more real.

As Zula comes from a family of self-professed gun-nuts she is familiar with the exact gun being used, and, whilst the bad guy continues to negotiates with Zula's allies, she puts her thumb into the new gap between the hammer and the striking cap. I can't remember if if the ally understands the implications of this or not, even with Zula trying to hint to him that it's now "safe", but the end result is that when the pistol is fired Zula only suffers a broken thumb instead of a giant hole in her skull and both the bad guy and the ally are confused about what just happened.

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