Famous last words, “Don’t worry; It’s not loaded…”

If I’ve heard that phrase once, I’ve heard it a thousand times. And out of those 1000 times, 999 of them involved an act of extreme negligence, stupidity, or both occurring immediate before or immediately after those words were uttered by someone committing the aforementioned act. Today was no different.

I was wrapping up my Krav Maga workout for the day when a classmate indicated her car wouldn’t start. A young, recent college graduate, she did what many young, recent college grads do, he called “Dad” for help…And to the rescue he came. I don’t hold that against her…I was that kid too about 15 years ago and I too would have called “Dad.”  Dads are great and fortunately, I’d already helped the young lady get her car started by the time “Dad” arrived.”

“Dad” was a nice enough guy and very gracious for the help we’d extended to his daughter.  Both of them are indeed very nice people. After he’d expressed his gratitude, we continued exchanging pleasantries and talked about his daughter’s misadventures with the offending car that has left her stranded in some bad parts of town on occasion. And this is where things get “interesting.”

“Dad” attempts to illustrate the hilarity of being a worried dad in a bad part of town, trying to “fix” his daughter’s car while keeping his gun handy just in case.  “Dad,” in a series of goofy, unsolicited moves, struggles briefly to remove a small, .380 caliber handgun from his right front pocket with his right hand. It’s in some sort of “tactical pocket sock,” and he then shuffles it to his left hand before placing it under his left armpit.  All the while pointing the muzzle at a dear friend of mine standing a few feet forward and to my right, in front of my truck.

My friend is a pretty smart women with cat like reflexes who instantly removed herself from the direction of the muzzle before I said anything to her. Knowing the man meant no harm, it is still unsettling and I think he saw my demeanor instantly shift from jovial to borderline hostile (as it tends to do when people unnecessarily face me with a gun in their hand). With my friend now out of the way and my smile gone, “Dad” now sheepishly begins to put the gun back in his pocket and utters those familiar words, “Don’t worry; it’s not loaded…”

How many times do we have to say it? Always treat every gun as if it were loaded, period. No ifs, ands, or butts…All guns are assumed to be loaded even if Jesus Christ himself says otherwise.  And then there’s the fact it’s just plain rude and offensive gesture to unnecessarily face another man with a gun in your hand. To do so is typically viewed as a threat and legally interpreted as deadly conduct. Don’t be a rude criminal. Keep your gun in its holster. Don’t tell me “…it’s not loaded.”

As it happens, everyone I know who has ever been “accidentally” shot, was shot with a gun that someone thought was unloaded at the time. Don’t be a statistic or the next news story in which the media says, “…the gun discharged without warning.” You will win the lottery twice and be struck by lightning each time before a gun “just goes off.” Invariably, someone failed to treat the gun as if it were loaded, allowed their booger-hook to interact with the bang-switch, and the gun worked as advertised. Don’t be THAT guy!

-Gary

Pa. trooper’s pregnant wife dies in accidental shooting

The officer pulled the trigger while taking apart his .45-caliber handgun for cleaning but did not realize the gun was loaded, police said.

via Pa. trooper’s pregnant wife dies in accidental shooting.

 

Our thoughts and prayers are with this trooper, and his family.  A husband has lost his wife and child. Two children have lost their mother and an unborn sibling. That said, this didn’t have to happen. This is not an accident. It’s negligence on the trooper’s part and he’ll have to live with that for the rest of his life. No one who owns a gun wants to be in this position and it is preventable.

Even if he did everything else wrong, had he simply kept the gun pointed in a safe direction, we wouldn’t be reading about it. A safe direction can be defined as a direction in which a bullet launched from a firearm will cause no unintended personal or property damage.  Again, no UNINTENDED personal or property damage.  A guy breaking into your home at night need some personal damage so pointing a gun at him may in fact be the safest thing you can do at that moment. But this allegedly happened while the officer was “cleaning his gun.”

Assuming that’s what actually happened, here’s the process for those who don’t know.  First, while keeping the gun pointed in a safe direction, REMOVE THE SOURCE OF AMMUNITION. That means, remove the magazine for semi-autos or open the cylinder and give the extractor a full stroke for your wheelgun folks. Single-action guys will need to turn the cylinder and press the extractor rod all the way through for each chamber.  If you skip this step, will likely here a loud boom toward the end of this process. The very next step for semi-autos is to lock the slide open and check the chamber, breechface, and magazine well to be sure there’s no ammunition left in the gun.  Again, with the gun pointed in a safe direction and only after completing the steps above, you can close the action, align the sights with something that will safely contain a bullet (i.e. file cabinet, old CRT monitor/TV, ceramic toilet) and press the trigger to the rear to relax all the springs. Then disassemble as directed per your owners’ manual.

Here’s something else guys, we’re all human. If you are tired/fatigued, get some rest. Maintenance is certainly important but, incidents like this highlight the fact we often get our processes confused when we’re tired and not thinking clearly. Weapon maintenance can wait if you’ve just worked a double!

And be aware of distractions. Chances are with two kids in the house and a pregnant wife all demanding Dad’s attention, the trooper may well have been distracted from the process of unloading/clearing the gun. As a cop, there’s a six in ten chance his service weapon is a Glock.  So it is also possible that when he came back to the gun, without thinking, he picked it up and pulled the trigger to disassemble it. Folks, anytime a gun has been out of your your sight or you’ve been distracted from the process of handling that gun for even a brief moment, start the the unloading/clearing process again. Make sure you’ve removed the source of ammunition, opened and inspected the action, and never, ever, allow the muzzle to cover/cross anything you are not willing to kill or destroy.

-GM

M&P Shield Safety Alert – Smith & Wesson

M&P Shield Safety Alert – Smith & Wesson.

Head’s up folks! Smith & Wesson has issued a safety recall of ALL M&P Shield pistols manufactured prior to August 19, 2013. Full details of the recall can be seen here:

The description of the problem reads as follows:

Smith & Wesson has identified a condition where the trigger bar pin could damage the lower trigger in certain M&P Shields in a way that may affect the functionality of the drop safety feature of the firearm, potentially allowing the pistol to discharge if it is dropped.

Any unintended discharge of a firearm has the potential to cause injury, and we ask that you STOP USING YOUR PISTOL IMMEDIATELY UNTIL IT HAS BEEN INSPECTED AND, IF THE CONDITION IS FOUND, REPAIRED.

This Safety Alert applies to all M&P Shield pistols manufactured before August 19, 2013. We believe this condition is largely limited to recently manufactured M&P Shield pistols. However, out of an abundance of caution, we are asking all consumers of all M&P Shields manufactured before August 19, 2013 to immediately inspect their pistols for this condition.

If you’re not comfortable with inspecting your gun on your own, you can have a certified armorer do it for you. Lots of local dealers have certified armorers on staff who will be able to assist you. I inspected my M&P Shield (manufactured in March of 2012) today. No repairs are necessary for my personal copy of this gun.

– Gary