Negligent Discharge Excuses vs Righteous Gun-Handling Attitude

By John Farnam

Smoking Gun
Negligent Discharge Excuses vs Righteous Gun-Handling Attitude
Defense Training International, Inc
Defense Training International, Inc

Ft Collins, CO –-(Ammoland.com)- Stupid gun-handling:

“Better that men should be held to consequences of their own culpable carelessness, than that ‘courts of equity’ should undertake to relieve them therefrom.” ~ State Bank of Drummond, 93 Wis 2d at 161

When I’m involved in the investigation of an accidental gunshot injury (usually self-inflicted), I make it a point ask the shooter, the person who was holding the gun at the moment of discharge, why he had the muzzle of the weapon he was controlling pointed in an obviously unsafe direction.

As with counseling alcoholics, the first response is usually denial. However, when re-confronted with the evidence, the person eventually says something like, “I had no idea I was doing that.”

Like all bad/careless habits, inadvertently pointing guns at your own body parts (mostly hands, feet, arms, legs) is probably not something that will beget disaster the first time you do it. No, like all bad habits, careless gun-handling is a “time-bomb.” But, you don’t get to know how long the fuze is! Sometimes, people handle guns carelessly for years, decades, with nary an unhappy “incident.” Then, during one inconvenient moment, the fuze runs out!

And, after unintentionally shooting himself, the person will be heard to say, “This is so unfair,” or this particular gun is “inherently unsafe,” … ad nauseam.

With the “unfair” part, I conditionally agree!

I explain to the shootee that he has been “unfairly lucky,” right up to this point! After pointing guns at himself a thousand times, ten-thousand times, the lines finally crossed, and the inevitable finally happened!

Righteous gun-handling is an attitude, more than a “method” or “practice.” Righteous behavior always proceeds from principled mental posture, not a “set of rules.”

The wonderful weapons that it is our honor and prerogative to “keep and bear” are, yes, “inherently dangerous!” That is a given, and not a subject for debate. I don’t believe it is possible to handle any of them “safely!”

The best we can do is handle them “carefully,” with the reverence and respect they, and we, deserve.

Even then, there are no guarantees! But, “keeping and bearing” arms represent a risk some of us gallantly and audaciously take upon ourselves, in the process of claiming our own magnificence!

“Practiced gun-wielders had too much respect for their weapons to take unnecessary chances with them. It was only with tyros and would-bes that you heard of accidental discharges, or ‘didn’t-know-it-was-loaded,’ injuries” ~ Wyatt Earp

/John

About John Farnam & Defense Training International, Inc
As a defensive weapons and tactics instructor John Farnam will urge you, based on your own beliefs, to make up your mind in advance as to what you would do when faced with an imminent and unlawful lethal threat. You should, of course, also decide what preparations you should make in advance if any. Defense Training International wants to make sure that their students fully understand the physical, legal, psychological, and societal consequences of their actions or inactions.

It is our duty to make you aware of certain unpleasant physical realities intrinsic to the Planet Earth. Mr. Farnam is happy to be your counselor and advisor. Visit: www.defense-training.com

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Dave in Fairfax
Dave in Fairfax (@grammar)
4 years ago

This does NOT account for discharges caused by manufacturing shortcuts or poor design. At least two major manufacturers have had problems related to those problems, neither of which had anything to do with incorrect handling, dropping, or rule breaking. There are Accidental Discharges, at least as far as the gun owner is concerned. I suppose you could call them pre-ordained discharges, but AD is more easily said.

Guit
Guit
4 years ago

I had one ND when I was about 15. We got out of the vehicle to walk a field for pheasants. As my Dad was getting the dogs out, I walked a few paces off to the side to practice drawing my shotgun to my shoulder to be sure I was clearing my over-sized jacket. As I was drawing, by habit, I disengaged the safety and pressed the trigger instinctively as if shooting a bird. The gun fired and startled everyone. Everyone was safe because I was pointing the weapon in a safe direction always. Of course this is no… Read more »

Vanns40
Vanns40
4 years ago

One of the best columns in quite a while. We all, and I mean every single one of us, make mistakes in handling items day to day. With firearms you do everything you possibly can to mitigate negligence. Break one safety rule, you usually get away with it. Break two and someone gets hurt. There’s a reason we don’t call them AD’s anymore. Safe firearm handling comes from repetition, hundreds and hundreds of repetitive motions; from picking up a gun and making sure you index to always knowing where the muzzle is going on the draw, it’s all repetition to… Read more »

joe martin
joe martin
4 years ago

The two people I know personally who were victims of negligent discharges resulting in injury were both long-time shooters and competitive shooters. We are all careful with guns, but what happens, as in the case of the two gentlemen I mentioned, people become over confident, lax and careless over time. New folks learning you expect to make mistakes, but old timers, you don’t, and unfortunately, neither did they and that’s how it happened.

Bill
Bill
4 years ago

Im sorry but I respectfully disagree with your opinion that there is no way to handle them safely. Everytime a gun is handled, from the time its removed from whatever storage to the time it is returned, handled by solely you, me, or multiples while alone or among 2 or more others and used, handled if you will and then returned to its storage without incedent other than those intended is due to the proper and safe handling skills of all those present and it is repeatable and predictable. Yes, familiarity often breeds contempt but it also often breeds skill… Read more »