At work today, someone said “We’re really behind the gun on this project.” Hmm. We all got the idea, but the idiom wasn’t quite right. Seems like a mixture of “under the gun” and “behind the eight ball.”
It’s hard to tell from Google how common this usage is, since there are movies and songs that include the words “behind the gun.” But it’s not uncommon. For example:
But what if we’re behind the gun, people are coming over tonight and we have a full day of work ahead of us?
This sort of thing has a name: an idiom blend. This post gives some other examples: page-burner, “It’s not rocket surgery,” “That’s the way the cookie bounces.” Lots of these are funny malapropisms, but “behind the gun” isn’t quite that bad. Like “I have a pit in my stomach,” it may even work its way into standard usage.