An Almost Deadly Mistake

Negligent Discharge

Negligent Discharge

I want to share with you an email from a gentleman named Roger. I got Roger’s permission to share this and I think it’s important for every gun owner to read.

Here’s what Roger sent me…

Jason,

After 56 years, I thought I understood the 4 rules about safe use of a firearm:

1) Always treat a gun as if it were loaded. Duh…
2) Always point a gun in a safe direction. Yeah Duh…
3) Know your target and beyond. Super Duh…
4) Keep your finger off the trigger unless you intend to shoot. Of course!

Not until the other morning did I fully understand how important and inspired they really are.

Just like every night, I take out my Glock, put in a full mag, lock and load one round, eject the mag, put in a second full mag, and place it close but in a safe location.

Then every morning I get up, eject the mag, rack the slide to eject the loaded round, rack the slide several more times to make sure it’s unloaded, pull the trigger, replace the loaded mag, and then put the gun away locked up.

Now, the other morning I was a little groggy and started the unloading procedure. In my grogginess I forgot to remove the mag when I racked the slide in order to eject the loaded round and when I pulled the trigger there was still a round in the gun. I had my first accidental discharge. Shot a hole right through the mattress!

Suffice it to say, it scared me to death! Luckily my wife was gone to work having just left 30 minutes prior. What if she hadn’t had to work that morning? I realized then that I had broken all four of those dumb gun safety rules! I took about an hour contemplating the whole situation as it really shook me up.

I have a new found understanding of the rules importance and a new dedication to their strict observance!

Stay safe,

Roger (I have removed his last name)

Well, there is no need to criticize, I’m sure Roger will never do that again. Obviously, everyone hopes to never have an negligent discharge, but as this proves, they unfortunately do happen. Also, I’m really glad Roger’s wife was at work and nobody was injured.

Since safe gun handling is so critical, I’m going to share with you what I do when loading and unloading my gun. First, I have a bulletproof panel that I use every single time. When I unload the gun I make sure it’s pointed at the panel so if I ever had an negligent discharge it would go into the panel and nowhere else.

The second thing I do may sound corny, but here it is: When I am loading or unloading the gun, or even when I am removing it from my holster to put it in a safe, I watch the muzzle as if a snake were about to jump out of it and if it catches me off guard it could kill me.

In other words, I closely watch the muzzle to ensure I am not pointing it anywhere it shouldn’t be. I don’t take my eyes off of the muzzle until it’s in the safe, pointed directly at the bulletproof panel or is loaded or unloaded.

Also, if you don’t already own one yet, I highly recommend you get yourself a bulletproof panel. There are many places online you can get these and they’re a very smart investment for all gun owners.

,

  • Ron De Roxtra

    I am a new gun owner and new to USCCA. I want to be as safe and prepared as possible and that means education and training. I have read this article at least 3 times: twice online and once in the April issue of Concealed Carry magazine. I plan on making it my required reading once a month for the next 6 months at least, along with a copy of the CHL laws for Texas, drilling into my mind what responsibility I have assumed by getting my CHL. Thanks, Tim, Jason.

  • SteveF

    When I was Marine Security on a carrier, before we left our statio we racked our weapons and test fired into a bucket of sand.

    • Ghost of Ramadan Past

      That works as well. Sadly I don’t think my neighbors (I’m in the middle of town) would appreciate it if I emptied a round into a bucket of sand everyday before I left the house. Sounds like an interesting experiment though! Not one I’ll likely undertake…

  • Greg Barnard

    So what did you tell the wife?

    • Ghost of Ramadan Past

      “Honey, remember how you’ve always wanted one of those fancy memory foam beds?”

      • schmoey

        Haha, good’n.
        A water bed in the story though would have added the right touch of humor.

  • I gotta ask, why unload and load it every day? Just stop foolin’ with it! Mine’s always loaded. If I shoot it, I re-load and it’s NEVER unloaded unless the bullets come out of the pipe or I’m cleaning it. If you want to lock it up before going to work, lock it up loaded.

    • Ghost of Ramadan Past

      It seems like it’s not his EDC just a gun he keeps around at night. I’m sure he feels safer with it unloaded and that’s his prerogative. Plus it’s pretty much loaded. Just needs to rack it since he says he puts the full mag back in before storage.

    • schmoey

      I agree.
      Leave it alone and in its holster as is (L&L).
      All that putzing around is dangerous.
      No one can go through a lifetime of a daily fiddling routine
      like that without asking for trouble.
      It only takes once.

      • xodimifejuj

        my neighbor’s step-aunt makes $85/hr on the computer. She has been out of a job for 5 months but last month her payment was $18560 just working on the computer for a few hours. Read more on  Zap22.c­om

    • Most if not all articles I’ve read and the gun locks I’ve purchased or that came with the weapon purchase, say: Do Not Lock A Loaded Weapon. If you do, there should at least not be a round in the chamber Part of this would depend on the type of lock you are using or if locking it up means putting it into a safe.

      • tionico

        he’s not talking about using the chinese gunlocks mandated to be sold with the new gun. No, he’s just putting it in the safe. I agree with those above.. STOP messing with it. It is an inert object,,,,, someone has to DO something with it before it can launch a round. The mnore you mess with it, the more likely you are to mess UP with it, as you did. LEAVE IT ALONE. Leave it always loaded, a round in the chamber and a full mag below that. Now you KNOW its condition at all times, and don’t have to mess with it. Don’t worry, it can’t discharge in the safe. Unless YOU squeeze the trigger whilst its still inside the safe. Leave it loaded and full. The way you do things now, what if you messed up and forgot to put the one in battery…. and someone comes into the house at oh dark hundred….. now you’ve got an expeisive rock to throw at the guy. Its locked up in the safe all day, sitting there, nothing can possibly happen with it.

    • rocketgeezer

      Yes I was woundering about that why the unusual ritual???????? nothing really against it, but just seems a little strange

  • Ghost of Ramadan Past

    Good article and something everyone needs to be wary of. Currently the only handgun I have is a Bersa Thunder .380. It has a mag disconnect so it won’t fire if the mag isn’t all the way seated into the gun. It’s a blessing and a curse. A curse because I could not have it all the way in and when I need to use it I’ll be screwed. Also, if I get into some sort of scrap over the gun the mag might come out leaving me with a small useless (almost useless) piece of metal. This might also be a blessing if the bad guy gets it away from me. The other blessing is I know that if I take out that mag at home it’s a lot safer to leave out at night in my nightstand. Keeping the mag hidden near, I know if someone else stumbles on to the gun it can’t be used. I can also just take the mag out, keep it with me and set the gun on my dresser and feel a lot better about it. Still no excuse for negligence but its a nice feature with both pros and cons. I just have to make sure that if my next purchase doesn’t have that feature I need to break the habit of thinking the gun is safer without the mag.

  • Tony Snesko

    Because I own a Glock and the safety is part of the trigger, I never have a bullet in the chamber because mistakes are made. It takes a fraction of a second to rack one as I pull it from the holster so I will just have to take my chances that 1/2 second delay.
    I will be buying a gun with a side mounted safety that will allow me to keep one in the chamber.

    • gejoslin

      I hope you never have to try and rack the slide one handed because your other arm/hand is injured or trying to keep the BG from choking you to death or fend off a knife attack. The BG is already attacking you. You’re already behind and he’s on you! You’ll want that 1/2 sec. and you’ll find it’s more like a full second. But it’s your life, just my opinion.

  • Van Phillips

    Jason and Roger:

    A few comments:

    A. Having had a round go off after cleaning when I went to lower the slide, I learned that having a safe place to point the firearm is essential. One type I’ve seen lately is a 55gal steel drum with the upper portion cut at an angle and the whole thing filled with sand.I t will absorb any round safely.

    B. When I teach Pistol Classes, I point out that those who make most of the mistakes are people who have no knowledge (and what they know comes from TV and movies) and those who have been at it for so long that they start to “assume”.

    C. I’m a Patron level member of the NRA and an Instructor, but I hate the new 3 point “Always” rules the NRA is currently using. I much prefer Col. Jeff Cooper’s, because of his #2, which are:

    1. Treat all guns as loaded.

    2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.

    3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.

    4. Always be sure of your target. And I add, “And what is beyond the target.”

    Then I add a 5th point from the Canadian rules:

    5. See that the firearm is unloaded and PROVE it safe. Such as a ECI, OBI, or Chamber Flag, based upon whose term you prefer.

  • Jim

    Jason another reason for a bulletproof panel; This happen to me about 40 years ago.

    I purchased a 22 auto pistol for my wife. I was showing her how the gun works (she did at the time have a Mass license to carry and was educated in proper gun handling). I loaded the magazine, gun pointing in what I thought was a safe direction, I loaded a round, when I let go of the slide the gun went off. At the time I had sliding windows, and all windows were open so there was four pains of glass. The bullet went through a wooden slat on the blinds, through the first window, the second window had a larger hole as well as the third. When it came to the fourth window the bullet was spend, maybe because of a steep angle. Outside was a safe area if the bullet exited the house.

    A strange thing, after I calmed down unloaded the gun, I found the 22 case. There was no mark on the case, the firing pin of the gun never moved; the gun was still cocked. I did contact CCI and explained the incident to them. All they said was “in about 4 or 5 million (maybe more) bullets made a 22 will have a VERY SENSITIVE primer, just the movement of the slide discharged the bullet. I did return the gun just in case. I never had that problem again even after shooting competitive for over 30 years and many hundreds of bricks of 22’s.

    A bulletproof panel would have been a good idea.
    Thank you again for the great class in Vermont (March 2013).
    Jim

  • Robert Vincent

    I agree with one of the previous comments about unloading the gun. Why? Especially when you are locking the gun in a secure location. “What if” you entered your home and you were confronted by an intruder? I would think finding your gun loaded would be the best scenario. Also, I own a few Springfield Armory XD models and on my XDS 45, there is a bar that raises slightly along the top of the slide when there is one in the chamber. Maybe this would be a good avenue for you to take. It leaves out the guess work. All and all, no one is perfect and no one who deals with guns for a long period of time without making some kind of mistake no matter how minor! Best rule of all is the one where you always treat a gun as it’s loaded. Even when you are dry firing. Also, if you want a safe place to discharge a round, the bucket of sand is a great solution and Acoustiblok makes a material that you can eliminate the sound of the muzzle blast with. All you have to do is assemble a small box in which you place your muzzle into when firing.

    • Ghost of Ramadan Past

      It clearly says he puts the loaded mag back in the gun before he puts it away. There just isn’t one in the chamber which is entirely fine. Read it again.

      • AZSDFT

        But,, this time there was.

  • Tuswecaoyate

    I have a few simple rules I follow to avoid such misunderstandings. If the gun is in the holster, it is loaded. If it has a mag in the mag well, it is loaded. If it comes out of the holster for any reason other than to fire it, It gets unloaded. Pulling the trigger is a step in the dis-assembly process, but not the clearing process.

  • I have a couple of problems with the above scenario. First I am a piece officer and have been using firearms since my eight birthday. I alway visually inspect to make sure my weapon is empty. Would you hand that empty weapon to your wife or friend without racking it and looking in to make sure there is not a round in the chamber. Same with a revolver. Visually inspect the cylinder or chamber always. Next, why would you ever, ever, I repeat ever dry fire a fire arm. I also store my empty semi autos with the slide locked open. All it takes is seat a magazine and thumb the slice lock and your good to fire.

    • schmoey

      Not to be a wiseazz, but come on…

      A “piece” officer?
      If you truly are one, shouldn’t you know how dumb this looks?
      I can’t even finish your post.

      • Sorry about the auto correct. Who I am is easily verafied through the link connected to my name. If you have a question about my comments please ask it. If you are just tring to show that one of us is ignorant, you have done so.

        Gary P Rogers
        Constable Goodsprings Township

  • Mark Cline

    So, his manual of arms with the Glock is to remove the magazine, eject the round, rack the slide several more time to be sure it’s unloaded, pull the trigger and reinsert the loaded mag? It seems to me that there is one step too many, pulling the trigger, and that’s the one that got him. Why would he do that? Under those circumstances the only reason to pull the trigger would be to remove the slide

    I own several Glocks. I am a certified Glock Armorer, NRA Pistol and Personal Protection Instructor and my carry gun is a Glock 27. It’s rare that I unload it for any reason other than a quick cleaning to get dust and lint out of it. Other than to clean it, and practice with it occasionally the trigger doesn’t need to be pulled.

    So, here is the proper manual of arms:

    Assume all guns are loaded, period.

    To Unload:

    1. Keep muzzle pointed in a safe direction. 2. Keep finger out of trigger guard. 3. Remove magazine. 4. Rack slide and lock open. 5. Inspect chamber and magazine well.

    To Load:

    1. Keep muzzle pointed in a safe direction. 2. Keep finger out of trigger guard. 3. Remove magazine. 4. Rack slide and lock open. *5. Insert loaded magazine. 6. Release slide to load round. 7. Remove magazine and top off. 8. Reinsert magazine. 9. Secure firearm while keeping muzzle pointed in a safe direction, and finger out of the trigger guard.

    *Alternative: 5. Release slide on empty chamber. 6. Insert loaded magazine. 7. Secure firearm while keeping muzzle pointed in a safe direction, and finger out of the trigger guard.

    The only reason I could think of for pulling the trigger in the circumstances of the letter would be a misunderstanding of the Glock Safe Action Trigger mechanism. Some people believe that the trigger is partially cocked, or being held back by a spring. Neither is true. In the reset condition, the the trigger is reset with the trigger safety retarding any backward movement unless the trigger safety is deactivated by the finger pulling it. The striker/firing pin is held back by the blocking pin which is spring loaded downward.

    The striker/firing pin is not under spring pressure, and the only spring which is compressed with the trigger in the fired position is the blocking pin spring. So, why pull the trigger?

    • WESLEY LAGOMARSINO

      100% agreed!! Why pull the trigger? There’s no benefit to that step in Roger’s list of procedures, only risk. You can take all kinds of other precautions but, when you habitualize a dry press of the trigger every time you put a firearm away, you’re just one distraction away from having a negligent discharge.

    • MakerMarked

      Yeah, it’s a bad habit to have when dealing with Glocks, Walthers, XD’s, etc. I leave the trigger alone, unless I’m handing it directly to someone. That case i’ll eject, lock slide back, present unloaded chamber, close slide, dry fire (down range), then hand over.

      • Jack B Nimble

        You just stated his pulling the trigger is a bad idea, but you then said you dry fire it as a matter of course before handing it over to someone.

  • J.C. King

    I understand , what Rodger is talking about , as I too , Had a misshap of this kind. Only I was wide awake , and simply got too comfy with my self and training , early one moring I was after a wild cat tearing into my chicken house, I had my Mossberg 590 pump, I hit two rounds at him much to far away, but in the heat of the chase I did not remove my finger from the trigger, ! While going after him , I stepped into a hole in the ground, an fired the shotgun, !! Almost blow off my dang foot!! , Funny too me now but it took the fight right outta me at the time, Needless too say It hasn’t happened again .

  • Texas Jazz player

    The things people do to get a new Sleep Number mattress.

  • Tony

    Mine is always loaded, but not racked. It only takes a second to get one in the chamber, so why do it. I you practice you can pick up your gun and rack it in one motion.

    • Justin

      Do not carry WITHOUT a round in the chamber. No one is good enough in a self defense scenario to take that chance!

      • Seymore yo

        He wasn’t carrying was he? He was at home and I agree with Tony, in your home with knowledge and practice. it takes a fraction of a moment to rack a round.

      • I agree with Justin, locked and loaded, quicker than being disturbed from sleep in the middle of the night, reaching for your weapon and forgetting it’s not loaded or having the muscle and hand coordination out of a deep sleep. Much easier to just pick it up and aim or release the safety.

      • MakerMarked

        I agree. I carry 100% of the time with chamber loaded. But when i leave it in my nightstand, it is loaded but unchambered. My personal choice, mainly because when I wake up I’m a bit clumsy and do NOT want to make the mistake of my finger slipping into trigger guard when I reach for pistol in a BumpInTheNight situation.

        Roger’s fear is not ejecting the round, mine is trigger safety because when I was 15, I improperly carried my .410 for a second and my finger was in the trigger guard. I tripped over a tree root and missed my foot by about 5 inches. Today I carry a German-made pistol with the mag release on the trigger guard, and it forces me to pay 1000% more attention when I unload due to being trigger-shy.
        As long as that finger doesn’t touch the trigger, it won’t go off. Unless it’s one of those murderous guns that Liberals seem to be convinced exist.

    • mike

      I agree i carry a gun with nothing in the chamber i can have one in a chamber and pulled out in one motion…

  • larkayr

    As a gunsmith for over 50 years. I had many occasions to load and unload all types of firearms. I never used a “bulletproof panel”…. I’m not even sure what is meant by the term that might not cause a bullet to fly off, who knows where?

    While I used a 35 gal. steel drum loaded with phone books in the bottom and sides, a simple waste basket with several phone books would certainly be quite effective and convenient.

  • My first mistake is I think I remember everything when it comes to my gun. I don’t. Too many maneuvers in this story for my simple mind including pulling the trigger. It almost reads like let me check to see if the gun is loaded by pulling the trigger. Huh?

  • Gee, there’s really a quite simple solution I learned at my Utah Permit Class from the NRA certified instructor that taught the class. Release the magazine, rack the slide, rack the slide, rack the slide. If a round of ammo pops out the first time and second time, it means you likely forgot to eject the magazine. Always rack the slide more than once. Just as I always push the ejector on my revolvers twice, occasionally one gets hung up and goes back in. Not often at all, but once is all it takes to take a life by accident.

  • My only concern is why wouldn’t you look in the chamber while racking to see if there is one in the chamber. I had a mishap once too as I was making sure my pistol was empty I racked the slide 3 times and failed to look in the chamber and sure enough one shell did not eject. I did point it in a safe direction and pulled the trigger and Blam. I look every time now.

    • bet it was a striker fired gun, suckers are dangerous, because you will always feel the need to uncock the gun, so you pull the trigger.

  • Spike Dawg

    It’s easy to become complacent with a gun. The four rules should always be followed to the letter. Tragedies happen when we stop treating every gun as if it’s loaded.

  • JJ_Swiontek

    I recommend this for my students:

    An inexpensive bullet-proof panel is to create one using several thick telephone directories duct-taped together. You can even put a target on it for your dry-fire practice.

  • tionico

    Jason, your words on muzzle control are exactly right. I am in unstructor with Appleseed, a rifle marksmanship program. Before ANY rifles can be taken out of the cars and brought to the line, we have our safety briefing, wherein we teach our Four Rules of safety. Number one… ALWAYS keep the muzzle in a safe direction. Note, we do not say “always POINT the muzzle in a safe direction….. consider.. the mussle is ALWAYS pointed SOMEWHERE. The rifleman’s first duty is to KEEP it pointed in a SAFE direction. In saying “always point”, it leaves a large hole… because many times one is not AWARE, or deliberately consciously pointing that muzzle. So, when one DOES knowingly point the muzzle, it must be in a safe direction.. which is fine. BUT< that only covers those times when the shooter is consciously pointing it. What about all the OTHER times? What WE teach is to ALWAYS make certain that muzzle IS POINTED in s SAFE direction. Whether we deliberatly piont ot or it just "happens" to be pionted somewhere. It is ALWAYS pointed in a safe direction. Our red-faced friend here probably made sure that when HE pointed the gun somewhere it was a safe direction. He failed to ALWAYS KEEP it pointed in a safe direction.

    I also believe he should just quit fussing with it twice a day. That means two times per day he has multiple opportunities to mess up. Leave it loaded, a round in the chamber, at all times. It wil sit quietly in the safe all day, never ding anything to protest its captivity… loaded or empty. Every time he handles it, he risks missing his steps….. and now has a hole in his (probably expensive) mattress to prove it. Leave it loaded. You KNOW it is loaded, and will ALWAYS KEEP that muzzle in a safe direction. Far too many steps in his daily drill. Eliminate them all, except for the daily round trip between the safe and the bed. KNOWING it is always loaded, AND always keeping the muzzle in a safe direction, will go a long way toward this ND being the last one.

  • Matt_R2

    This story is one reason I like pistols with a distinct, loaded chamber indicator. (XD for example). I know, I know only you don’t NEED a loaded chamber indicator because the real safety is the one between your ears….but it doesn’t hurt to have a secondary indicator just in case the one between your ears has a malfunction.

    • Jackie b

      The Glock has a loaded chamber indicator

  • Eric

    There is no reason to pull the trigger on a striker fired pistol unless (1) you need to do so for dissassembly (Glock), (2) you are practicing dry or live and have taken all the safety precautions associated with practice.

    I used to do as Roger did, pulling the trigger after emptying the gun. But there is no reason to do so, it won’t harm the gun to keep it that way. And by eliminating the one part of your routine that involves the trigger, you greatly reduce the chance of an AD/ND.

  • Sparta

    This guy

  • Sparta

    Hard to believe. I wonder what he defines as a safe place if willing to go through a self imposed routine that makes no sense. Not likely a biometric safe. More like a dresser drawer.

    And why the need for a magical 15th round if for home defense? Like the extra round is critical, the delta b/w life and death? An article like this is a fantastic wake up call for everyone that reads it, myself included. I never thought of the need for a specific backstop. Will get one now.

    At CCW class, I witnessed incredibly dangerous handling on the range. One guy staring straight down the barrel of his revolver to ensure a round was not in it. Very hard to trust anyone’s expertise and rigid safety adherence these days.

  • SteveB

    I did the same thing unloading my Springfield on night. Luckily, bullet hit mag I had just dropped on bed. Ruined mag, but no damage to bed. Lesson learned.

  • ANYBODY can have an unintended discharge of their firearm.I’ve put two rounds into two different ceilings by not paying bloody attention to what I was doing.And I own revolvers so no racking and magazine changes were involved.
    It can happen to you..and you and you and you,too back there coloring.(I see you!)

    • Sure I guess it can happen, almost happened to me once handed my friend a loaded gun once and he failed to check it which I thought he would always do, i politely took it back and cleared it. close one though.

      • Actually, the fail here wasn’t your friend. It was you. Never hand over a loaded gun. Drop the mag and rack the slide, lock it back and only THEN hand it over.

  • the problem is 1) he does futz around too much with his pistol.2) its a glock and I can see an accidental discharge with type of weapon easily. If I were him and i was going to continue with the ritual he performs Id change weapons to something with a decocker and long trigger pull. like my sig sauer.double action. striker fire is just too easy to have a miss fire. one reason i don’t own one.

  • As for keeping a live round in the chamber. I do always.why? because some can cross the room and stab you before you can rack a round and aim and fire. Its a proven fact.remember drivers ed. class? how long it takes to recognize the threat, then how long it takes to react.

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