Here we have a classic case of complacency in the world of firearms. You see, when you work on the other side of the gun counter it can be easy to get out of the habit of safe firearm handling procedures. Handling new, unfired (other than the factory’s single proof) guns day in and day out, it can be easy to fall into the trap of forgetting exactly what you are handling. The same thing unfortunately can be said for a person who carries a gun on their hip everyday of their working career. It can be easy for a professional to view a firearm as any other piece of equipment they carry on a daily basis, radio, handcuffs, ect. When this police officer went into this gun shop to checkout a new handgun, you would think between the two of them you would have had a shining textbook example of gun safety. Unfortunately nothing could be further from the truth. What you DID have however, was a series of failures which resulted in the officer shooting himself in the hand after a negligent discharge on his part. Notice I said negligent discharge over “accidental” discharge. I once witnessed a true accidental discharge, and it didn’t look anything like this.
The rules broken here were the most basic and fundamental.
- The first mistake is that ammunition was even allowed near a display gun. This should have never happened, but in truth it isn’t truly a contributing factor here. Had the other rules been followed, this would have been caught before the firearm was handed over to the customer.
- I kinda gave this one away, but the first thing the salesman should have done is cleared the gun. This should be more than simply running through the process of cycling the action (even several times as if the first time didn’t “get it”), but you should physically look in the chamber to ensure it is in fact empty. Extractors can and will fail, and the soft brass of a cartridge can get very stuck on even the smallest of imperfections.
- The salesman shouldn’t have had the gun pointed at his own hand. Take a look at the hand off and you will see that this story could have just as easily ended with the salesman catching a bullet. There is a correct way to hand a firearm off to someone grip side out. Sandwiching the meat of your palm around the muzzle isn’t how it should go.
- The officer did not ensure he was not holding a loaded gun. Had the action been locked back by the salesman, this would have taken less time than he spent reaching for the gun in the first place. All guns are loaded until YOU prove otherwise.
- The officer probably shouldn’t have pointed the gun his own hand while dry firing (firing) the gun. If you stay in the habit of always keeping a firearm pointed in a safe direction, this kinda stuff is much harder to happen.
- Here is where you could also say he wasn’t aware of his target. We can all agree that he wouldn’t have pulled the trigger knowing he was about to shoot his own hand. Imagine if he had been pointing the muzzle in the general direction of the customers and staff at the other end of the counter.
As you can see, there should have been many times for this to have been caught. Complacency is a killer! The purpose of this short article isn’t to beat up on these two, but instead use it as an opportunity to learn from others mistakes. Never assume anything when it comes to firearm safety! Treat it as if it is loaded, keep it pointed in a safe direction, keep you booger pickers off the bang switch until you are ready for it to go boom, never trust mechanical safeties as they can and will fail, when you finally do make the decision to shoot know your target and what is behind it. Bullets can miss, and they also can pass through a target and keep on going. I want to stress that the purpose here isn’t to preach to the choir, but remember these two folks probably just the day before considered themselves part of the choir and should have known better…
Till next time