Are you an idiot? Do you own a firearm? Here is a quick guide to the seven best ways to “accidentally” shoot someone, including yourself. Alternately, you could use this as a guide to avoiding the act of shooting someone due to your own negligence, incompetence, and general stupidity. If you’re looking for more of my take on gun safety, check out the article “Let’s Talk About Firearms Safety” that Aaron at Weapon Blog graciously allowed to grace his website.
Busting a Cap in the Crapper
This one just happened recently, but it’s a fairly common occurrence. Since a lot of people attach guns to their pants, and since most people take their pants off prior to bowel movements, there is an interaction between human and machine when people with guns sit down in public restrooms. Some people pull their firearm out of the holster, some leave it in the holster, some take the holster and pistol off their belt – the best thing to do is to just leave it alone.
In the recent example, a man carrying an “old western style .357 revolver” sat down in a Walmart bathroom stall when his holster supposedly fell off of his belt and the revolver discharged as it hit the floor. This is possible, especially if he was carrying a pre-transfer-bar single action with rounds in all six chambers – a stupid move in and of itself – or if he was actually messing with the revolver while he did his thing in the bathroom.
On the same day, the same thing (supposedly) happened in North Carolina, but with a .38 revolver, and in a Cracker Barrel, not a Wal-Mart.
Any time you are manipulating a firearm, you increase the chances that you will discharge that firearm. If you have a good holster attached to a good belt and leave your carry weapon in that holster unless it is absolutely necessary to remove it, the chances that a bullet will come out of the muzzle and hit someone or something that you (presumably) don’t want it to are practically zero.
Fighting The Holster
This is a really popular one. Either when drawing from or reholstering to a holster, people like to shoot themselves in the leg, butt, or foot (assuming a waist-mounted holster). The most notable recent “Fighting the Holster” event was when this fat guy – ironically referred to by Business Insider as a “gun expert” – shot himself in the thigh while drawing his pistol.
Negligent discharges while drawing from the holster most often occur when the trigger finger snaps onto the trigger before the pistol is pointed away from the body. This can happen either due to user confusion as to how to defeat retention devices on the holster, or because of nervousness and haste to get a finger on the trigger before the pistol has been rotated up towards the target.
When reholstering, a finger can be shoved inside the trigger guard as it is pushed against the edge of a holster – if the finger is positioned improperly – or retention straps, most often seen on leather holsters, are allowed to enter the trigger guard as the user pushes the pistol into place. However, this can happen if any foreign object is allowed to enter the holster.
It’s important to remember that you shouldn’t fight your holster, whether you’re drawing or reholstering. If something feels wrong, stop and take a look. That’s a lot easier than dealing with the aftermath of shooting yourself.
Taking a Shot in the Dark
Home and self defense are major factors in firearm sales, but simply having a gun isn’t the only step that should be taken towards being in control of your own safety. Identifying your target is, simply, critical. This normally involves using lights – either handheld or attached to the walls of your house, depending on the situation.
The tragic example of the Florida man who shot his fiance the day before their wedding should be reason enough to identify your target before you pull, press, or squeeze a trigger.
Showing Off Your Pistol Or Its Cool New Accessory By Pointing It At Someone
Something that occurs with amazing frequency is when someone is examining or showing off a firearm, then proceeds to shoot someone with it. Sometimes it involves kids, which just plain sucks, but other times it involves adults, which is just plain stupid (although both instances can be traced back to negligence on the part of an adult). When it happens without someone being shot, we rarely hear about it – but here’s one example.
One of the most egregious violations of this basic safety rule was when an Arizona state legislator was showing off her pink Ruger LCP to a reporter, then proceeded to point it at the reporter’s chest in order to show him the laser attached to the LCP. This, she said, was okay, because her “hand was not on the trigger.” Not surprisingly, she also said that she had had no formal firearms training.
The solution to this is simple – don’t point guns at people unless you want them to die.
Cleaning Your Gun the Wrong Way
Another perennial favorite of the mentally challenged is when they somehow fire their weapon while cleaning it. I rarely clean my firearms, but on those occasions, the very first thing I do is properly clear the firearm. This normally involves removing all ammunition from the firearm, and all ammunition from potential sources within the firearm.
A highly publicized example of this took place last year, when a man who was reportedly cleaning his muzzleloader after a deer hunt fired it into the air, and the bullet struck a 15 year old girl who was riding in a buggy. Over a mile away.
While we normally consider “up” to be a safe direction when carrying firearms, it’s important to remain cognizant of where a bullet could end up if the weapon discharged at any particular point in time. Pointing the weapon towards the ground has its own set of dangers that you should also be aware of. The correct choice is often dependent on the situation.
When cleaning firearms indoors, it seems popular to shoot oneself, either in the hand, as the Wisconsin DOJ training director most recently did, or in the head, which is usually fatal. I must advise that determining if a firearm is clean by peering down the muzzle of a fully functional firearm is not an intelligent course of action.
As stated previously, whenever you manipulate a firearm, the chances that something bad will happen increase. If you take precautions, you are able to ensure that bad things will not happen – or, at the very least, that damage from whatever happens will be minimized. But if you fail to remain aware of the risks involved, you will injure or kill someone.
Trying to Imitate Stellan SkarsgÃ¥rd in Ronin, But With a Gun Instead of a Coffee Cup
This one isn’t talked about all that often, but I think it happens more than it is reported, or perhaps the reporting is not quite accurate. It is possible that the earlier Cracker Barrel discharge might have involved this, and possibly the Walmart one as well.
When a firearm starts to fall, do not attempt to grab it. The chances that it will fire from the impact alone – if it is a firearm that is serviceable and has been manufactured within, say, the last fifty years or so – are extremely small. The chances that you will, as your fingers clench around the weapon, pull the trigger – well, those aren’t good odds.
If you are unsure of your carry firearm’s ability to resist impact from a reasonable distance without discharge, contact the manufacturer. I would not advise carry of a firearm that will fire when dropped from only a few feet above the ground. The vast majority of new production firearms will not do so.
Not Knowing How to Load or Unload Your Pistol
Properly loading a firearm does not generally involve pulling the trigger, but this was apparently news to the Georgia man who shot himself with his new gun outside a gun show recently. Of course, details are scarce, but we can put two and two together here.
If you don’t know how to safely load or unload your pistol, go to a gun store and ask for help. If you are earnest in this request, you should not be looked down upon. As an aside, if the person who is teaching you about guns violates any of the firearm safety rules, seek instruction elsewhere.
Now You Know
There you go – the seven best ways to accidentally shoot someone, as determined by me (with the help of a bunch of careless people). Thanks for reading, and hopefully you got the real point of this article.