Over the years, I’ve had people tell me about their “Accidental gun discharge.” Hmm…is there really such a thing as an accidental discharge? Not usually. The truth is, if a gun goes off when the handler didn’t mean for it to fire, it was a negligent discharge. What does that mean? Well, it simply means the person handling the gun was negligent.The English dictionary definition of negligent is: (Adjective) Careless, without appropriate or sufficient attention. Now if you’ve had an incident in which your gun fired when you didn’t want it to, be honest with yourself and learn from the experience. Don’t slay the messenger.
Back in the day, my family had a gun range and gun store. We had guns for sale in the retail portion of the store. When someone wanted to handle one that was for sale, we would remove it from the display, lock it open, mag out and hand it to the person. Eight out of 10 people would immediately release the slide and put their finger on the trigger. Many of them would have it pointing at me or someone else and I’d have to politely correct the action. Some of you may be thinking: “It’s not loaded.” Yes, they are all loaded, period. If you don’t handle a gun like it’s loaded at all times, you will eventually pick up a gun that is loaded and act like it’s not and that’s when bad things happen.
- Finger off trigger unless it’s time to shoot
- Point it in a safe direction
In November of 2013, a man shot a women through a hotel wall in Irving killing her. The man who discharged the gun has been charged with Criminally Negligent Homicide, keyword is negligent. In December 2012 a man shot and killed his 7-year-old son in the front seat of his pickup truck. Investigators said the man told them he didn’t realize there was a bullet still in the chamber. “This happens all too often where people think the gun was empty,” Lt. Eric Hermick told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. I posted information about this shooting it my Texas Concealed Carry Institute Facebook page. When I mentioned how the father was irresponsible and should be prosecuted, etc… I was attacked because I wasn’t there. Some people said this father has suffered enough. Really? His son’s last thought was more than likely why did daddy shoot me? It wasn’t an accident. It was negligent handling of a firearm. Let me ask you this: if your neighbor was cleaning his gun in his garage and “accidently” shot your kid and killed him/her you’d be cool with it, right? It was an accident, right? Rules: treat all guns as loaded, finger off trigger, point in safe direction. I could go on and on. Just Google man accidently shoots his son. There are dozens of tragic stories that were all preventable.
Don’t Shoot Yourself!
Shortly before I arrived to set up for the last gun show in Mesquite, a vendor’s gun had gone off and he shot himself. From the witness accounts the gentleman had a Norinco 1911A1 .45 handgun in his vest pocket. A Norinco 1911 is a clone of the Colt 1911A1 .45. That model gun has a grip safety and a thumb activated safety on the gun. Apparently, the gentleman had the gun in a concealment vest pocket, he bent down, the gun fell out, discharged, grazed his arm and went through the roof of the building. He was lucky. That round could have easily hit him critically or worse an innocent bystander. No, I wasn’t there, but the gun couldn’t have fired if thumb safety had been engaged unless it was disabled, which would be even more concerning if that were the case.
Phil Ryan is a licensed Texas police firearms instructor, staff police academy instructor and CHL instructor since 1995.