If a gun is on the mantle in the first act, it must go off by the third. Otherwise leave it out.
If a gun is on the mantle in the first act, and you want it to go off with deadly consequences, let it be a loaded gun that’s not locked up or anything.
If a gun is on the mantle because a specific character put it there, write that character as a roiling emotional sea of strident politics, antique traditions, and fragile masculinity.
If a gun is on the mantle or table or shelf at a gun show, any character of any moral quality can buy that gun, no questions asked.
If a gun is on the mantle because a character 3D printed it themselves, audiences expect that character to be the kind of repellent creep that even a gun show vendor turns down.
If a gun is…
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