Victim Didn’t Shoot, Safety Was On

AR Burglary Victim
Victim Didn’t Shoot, Safety Was On

By Dean Weingarten

Dean Weingarten
Dean Weingarten

Arizona – -( An Arkansas burglary victim’s pistol did not fire when he intended it to, because the safety was on, and he did not realize it.

Wayne Murrey, above shows some tactical sense as he cautiously peered through a doorway, exposing little of himself while he looked to determine what was happening.  When he saw that a curtain was disturbed, he realized that someone was trying to break in.   That is when he accessed his firearm.


“I got up, walked over here and I peeked like this, and I see the curtain kind of pulled back a little, so I said to myself…somebody is trying to break into the home,” said Murrey.

Alleged Burglar, Wendell Hilton Giles
Alleged Burglar, Wendell Hilton Giles

The alleged burglar, Wendell Hilton Giles, above, was wanted in eight other burglaries and was a parol absconder.

Murray had the police dispatcher on the phone when he tried to pull the trigger, just as the dispatcher told him not to shoot. Giles was already partway through the window. But Murrey’s gun would not fire. The safety was on. Giles fled, but was caught by the police a few blocks away.

The police said the suspect was unarmed, but Giles left this brick that was used to break the window.
The police said the suspect was unarmed, but Giles left this brick that was used to break the window.

It is not uncommon for people to forget that the safety is on. I have seen it happen dozens of times with students who are not very familiar with their firearm. I recall practicing taking off the safety as I brought the gun to bear, thousands of times, in order to make shooting a smooth reflex. The problem with having the safety on or off is one of the reasons that double action revolvers, most of which do not have manual safeties, and Glock pistols, which have the safety on the trigger, are so popular.

It is the “keep it simple” principle.

Murrey was glad that he did not shoot Giles. He hinted that he might have been scared out of a life of crime decades earlier, when he said that it could have been him:

“I didn’t want to make an example out of nobody’s child and I didn’t want it to be…you know it could have been me at one time…but God saved me.”

Perhaps God will work a miracle in Giles life as well. Wendell Hilton Giles came very close to losing it. Murrey was aiming at his head, and the shot was not a long one.

Safety Off
Safety Off

Know your equipment, and practice, practice.   Dry fire practice is cheap, and does not harm most modern handguns.  You can use a snap cap or fired casing if you need to, to cushion the firing pin when it hits.

Make a ritual of keeping the firearm that you are dry firing separate from ammunition, preferably in another room, while you are dry firing.  There have been accidents where people are distracted, just after reloading their firearm, remember that they were dry firing, and start “dry” firing with a loaded weapon.   Do not become one of those people.   Another worthwhile precaution is to aim at something that will stop bullets.   A TV is not a good target.   Many have died in the name of firearm proficiency.

Familiarity with your equipment can make a big difference when you have to use it.

c2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included. Link to Gun Watch

About Dean Weingarten;

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

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Experience, is invaluable if you survive it. I was in bed at 3am when someone kicked the back door. Boy, your senses come alive… I never knew bed sheets made so much noise as I reached for my revolver then leveled it at the bedroom door under the sheets… and waited. Same thing when there was a stern knock at my rural front door around 11:30 one night. I picked up my 1911 to check it out and found myself flicking the safety on and off 2 or 3 times to orient myself and when I got to the door… Read more »