“A father is facing jail after his teenage stepson accidentally shot himself in the head while posing for a photograph with his illegal handgun.” I suppose the lead from walesonline.co.uk tells you all you need to know, really. Only not really. “Firearms enthusiast Mike Hole, 50, kept the banned .25 Beretta pistol at his home but allowed Lewis Bailey, 15, to play with it at their Newport home. Schoolboy Lewis held the gun to his head for Hole to take a snap on his mobile phone and the loaded gun suddenly went off.” “Went off.” All on its own. Anyway, Lewis recovered. His step-father is looking at five years in prison . . .
Obviously, Hole qualifies for TTAG’s IGOTD award for ticking all the wrong boxes. Mucking about with guns, generally. Not ensuring that his [illegal] firearm was unloaded. Allowing—indeed encouraging—his step-son to point a gun at his own head (what was THAT all about?). But the wider point is this: never give/show your gun to someone outside of a gun range.
Does that make me a paranoid gun safety Nazi? Yup. Guilty as charged. For example, my wife insists that her Glock is stored in a loaded condition with an empty chamber. She has to rack it before she can use it. That’s the way she likes it. That’s the way she trains. As do I. (For now.)
Because that’s how our Glocks are prepared, both of us regularly remove the magazine and rack the slide, to make sure there isn’t a bullet in the chamber. Even thought we know there isn’t. Even though we keep our fingers off the trigger. Even though we practice muzzle discipline. And keep all guns away from children.
When it comes to handling firearms, I’m all for a touch of OCD. You can check a gun too little, but you can’t check it too much. In any case, checking a gun to make sure it’s unloaded every time you handle one is an excellent starting point.
Referring to this case, here’s the problem: how do you know what someone else isn’t going to load your gun? If I don’t trust myself to make sure a gun is unloaded, and I don’t, why should I trust a bud or family member not to load it? And if they load it, they just might fire it. ‘Cause you can fire a loaded gun, or so I’m told.
Unlikely? Well, let’s say you’re showing your gun to your friend Charlie and you step out of the room for twenty seconds. “Honey? We’re up here!” Chuck has twenty seconds to load it.
He wouldn’t do that! Besides, there’s no ammo around right? Are you sure? What if your old pal brought their own ammo? Was Charlie really such a good sport when cleaned him out in that poker game? What if the pissed-off ghost living in your attic brought them some and whispered in Charlie’s ear that you need to be a memory in his head? I dunno. Shit happens.
Quite simply, any time you hand a gun to someone, you’re risking catastrophe. And if there are a room full of someones (Hey guys! Check out my new AR!), the risk increases exponentially. Frankly, I don’t know how the guys down at American Firearms School keep their cool—even though they’re mostly combat veterans, carry sidearms and wear body armor. And experienced (that’s what they do for a living).
Mister! I’m talking to you. Don’t do it. Don’t show off your guns to anyone—never mind use them a photo props—unless you’re holding the weapon at all times (think twice about that), alone (webcam) or can point the weapons downrange and keep control of the situation. Why would you do it any other way? What are you, gorffwyllog?