About a month ago I had a very good friend of mine have a negligent discharge of his firearm just as he was preparing to clean it. He shot himself. Thankfully his injury was only a flesh wound in the palm of his hand. After making sure he was alright and after poking fun at his pain (as any good friend would do) I thought about all the potential pitfalls involved with cleaning your firearm. Certainly we try to be as cautious as possible when cleaning but there are times when we get complacent or hurried. It is those times when we are most vulnerable to have a negligent discharge.
There are a few things we should always do when it comes to cleaning your gun. I’m not going to try and reinvent the wheel here but maybe just give you, the reader, some food for thought.
I would refer to these reminders as the ABC of weapons cleaning.
Always, without exception, clean your firearm in a separate room from the one where you have your ammunition. Most everyone removes the magazine from a semi-automatic and then racks the slide to eject the round if you have a round chambered. In the case of revolvers when you eject the rounds from the wheel make sure you hold the empty wheel up to a light source and you are able to see light through every chamber in the wheel. Do either of these in the very same room where you have the rest of your ammunition. By doing this you will know you have emptied your firearm of ammunition prior to going into another room to clean it.
Be sure your firearm is empty before doing anything to it. I mean anything. Check and recheck to make sure there is no round chambered or pop out the wheel and carefully examine each chamber to make sure no round escaped notice. Only after making sure there are no rounds in your firearm should you begin disassembly. This step is especially important with those firearms that require a trigger pull as part of disassembly (as was the case with my friend’s negligent discharge).
Come up with a routine. Routines are good and when it comes to cleaning your firearm a routine is crucial. One definition for routine is an unvarying, habitual, and imaginative procedure. Having a routine means a set of steps done in a specific sequence. This is of the utmost important when it comes to cleaning your firearm. When you have a specific routine and follow that routine you feel a certain uneasiness when those steps are done out of order. It’s like going on a trip. You have a mental checklist. But if you forget something on that list you have a sense of it. You find yourself feeling like you forgot something. This is the same feeling you’ll experience if you stick to a routine. When you do something out of order or forget a step you’ll have that feeling of “I forgot something” and that feeling could prevent a negligent discharge. And potentially serious injury to one’s self or loved one.
There can be several factors involved with a negligent discharge. These can be complacency, fatigue, distractions of various types (dog, wife, television, or even children), or even just rushing through it. Remember it is a process. You must be “fully involved” when cleaning your firearm. Negligent discharges are 100% preventable. Take the necessary steps to assure this does not happen. The Liberals out there are always seeking a way to show firearms in a dangerous and negative light. Don’t give them any more ammunition by having a negligent discharge where someone is injured or someone’s life is taken.
Also I would like to mention I heard recently there was a recall on Smith and Wesson Shield firearms. There is supposedly a defect in the trigger safety that could result in an accidental discharge should the weapon be dropped. Please visit www.smith-wesson.com for more information. And as always, God Bless!