Tag Archives: Coast Guard

Don’t Ever Stuff a Gun in Your Pants

“Don’t ever stuff a gun in your pants”


The informant learned of this proverb from military officers and his peers during basic training for the Coast Guard when he was about 19 years old. He learned that this saying came about when safeties were common in guns (when you pull back a hammer before shooting). Now double-safeties are commonly built into guns that force disable you from pulling back a hammer without pulling the trigger so if it’s dropped of stuffed somewhere, it won’t go off.

While in training, the informant said he was trained with 9mm, which officers told him, was to help him and his peers get a fell for how to use a gun. When you graduate to become a full member of the military, they will issue a different gun with a double-safety to protect from accidental discharges (and because they are more accurate and efficient). He mentioned that the Harry Potter saying: never put your wand in your pocket is a direct reference to this proverb

Humor in this instance is a good tool to help people remember safety information. Personally, I’m unaware of the workings of guns, but this proverb is helpful in reminding listeners of the mechanics of certain types of firearms.

Weekend Liberties Admonition for the Coast Guard

“At the end of the sixth week of training… no at the uh… after the fourth week of training in the, in the Coast Guard, you get on-base liberty, which means you get an entire day to yourself where you can do whatever you want. You can go to the duty free shop, you can exercise, you can read a book, you can go to the computer lab… whatever. Then, um… during the sixth week of basic training, assuming you haven’t done anything to disrupt, you get off-base liberty, which means you get dressed up in your military dress uniform and you go off base—into the town, and you do whatever you want from eight to eight. Me personally, I went out and, uh, saw two movies. I, uh, I pigged out at a fast food place. Other people get hotels to, you know, sleep with other people on the base. Or uh, they go to the bars to get wasted—even though that’s not allowed, what they do is they get a hotel and they get roaring drunk before they have to get back to base—or at least, hide it enough so no one knows that they’re piss-drunk…

“There were six guys—they called them six pack—and they got so black-out-drunk that when they got back—they almost got away with it—they took a taxi up to the front gate, they managed to uh walk past the gate, and when they got to, to uh, their barracks, to their, to their private little room, they had to walk past their company commander office… and as soon as they walked past: bluuehhhh! [makes vomiting noise]. Their company commander was right there, they just, they almost made it, they just passed his office, and then [vomiting noise] everywhere. Guy came out, they all got busted for, like two weeks.”


The informant’s company commander told him this legend. The commander said that they tell this story to everyone when they are allowed to go out on weekend liberty. The commanding officers admonish the recruits: “don’t be like the Six Pack. This was a warning to training Coast Guard recruits that their position is tenuous as well as determined by themselves.

This is a good illustration of how the Coast Guard functions: part hierarchy, part brotherhood. The way in which the commanding officers disseminate rules and expectations to those under their command (done through folklore) is friendly enough to make it easy to accept as someone under the command of another.

Restarting Basic Training

“‘Don’t think just because you went though a ceremony and got your little certificate and your, uh, your pins—denoting your rank and everything—that, that you’re all done. That we’re equals. Your character reflects on us up until you leave sight of everyone at this base. It reflects upon you until you get, uh, your new billet. It reflects on, it reflects upon us—you and us—up until the end of your career. In other words, if you fuck up in such a way as to make people think ‘How’s this person, how could this person ever be in the military?’ they will send you back to bootcamp.’

“Their example—they don’t have any special nickname for him—but what happened was as soon as he graduated, he shook hands with all of his company commanders, and he got up on the bus, and the bus was leaving the gate. You know, it was just passing the gate, and the company commanders were watching the bus go by, and this guy, opened the window, stuck his hand out: [makes middle finger gesture] and did this to everyone on the base as he was leaving. They stopped the bus, and he had to repeat the entire eight weeks of basic training.”


The informant learned it from company commander on the day of his graduation (the beginning is the commander’s speech)  from the Coast Guard basic training. At the time, the informant was so elated that he made it though everything that he didn’t take it personally. He said he had seen other people in his group screw up (often badly), but he and his fellows and company commanders had gotten close so he held no malice toward his superiors.

When he was told this story, he recalled thinking to himself, “wow” saying they should kick him out permanently because “he’s the kind of guy that’s just going to grit his teeth and wait patiently until he no longer has to be put through this ordeal that is basic training, and then be like, ‘fuck you all!’”

Whether this legend is true or not, it allows the commanding officers in the Coast Guard to get their point across without unnecessary disciplining of misbehaving troops. By using a singular party (who may even be fictional) as a harsh example from which the recruits need to learn from, commanding officers can maintain the good behavior of a larger mass that identifies—at least partially—with the offending character. The commanding officers, thus, essentially make an example of one of the recruits’ own peers.