It finally happened to me this past weekend. Well, it happened in front of me, to be more accurate. I wasn’t the guy accidentally pulling the trigger, but I was less than three feet from the muzzle when it happened. Way too close for comfort — definitely a sphincter-tightening experience for my two new friends and me. Let me give you the details, and then you tell me: how would you have handled this situation? . . .

We were at the benefit match for the West, Texas volunteer fire department near Marble Falls, Texas. It was a beautiful day, and I was having a blast. So to speak. There was a bay dedicated to just fooling around where they had a full auto AR-15, and I had wandered over there to see if they would let me stick the upper to my new 300 AAC Blackout gun on their full auto lower and take it for a spin. The answer was yes, and the result was, as you’d expect, awesome.

While I was waiting around and schmoozing with the guys there, one of the other shooters on the line who had a heavily customized suppressed GLOCK handgun was showing it off to the guy running the machine gun. The slide was forward, on the gun, but the magazine well was empty. I assumed that the gun had been unloaded. I was wrong.

As he demonstrated each new feature, the muzzle of the gun moved around wildly. I didn’t consciously keep track of it the way I would a loaded firearm, but I’m pretty sure at a couple points it was aimed at human flesh of some sort. When the guy finally came to showing off the trigger, he held the gun vertically with one hand on the front of the silencer, and touched the trigger.

As usually happens when you pull the trigger with a round in the chamber, the gun fired sending a round through the tin roof of the range. And everyone froze.

Clearly, the gun still had a round in the chamber despite the magazine being removed. And as we assessed the situation, making sure that there were no injuries (besides the now-ventilated tin roof), the guy tried to continue his explanation of how awesome his trigger was, ignoring the fact that he had just sent a round sailing unaimed on a crowded range.

So there’s the scene for you. ND straight up through the roof, and the accidental trigger puller refusing to stop talking about his awesome customized GLOCK long enough to do anything about it. How would you handle that?

161 Responses to Question Of The Day: How Do You Handle a Negligent Discharge?

    • Seriously? I fail to see how that has anything to do with it.

      I have a 3.5lb connector on my Glock. It only fires when I pull the trigger. I don’t put my finger on the trigger until I’m ready to shoot. Keep your booger hook off the bang switch and don’t wave a loaded gun around like a buffoon and your good. I don’t think for a second that if this guy had a 5.5lb connector this would have gone differently.

      You must be be all about those 12lb NY triggers NYPD has to use.

      • “booger hook”, “bang switch”
        Geez, i get the giggles every time I read those words.
        Kinda like hearing a good fart. The day I fail to find humor in these things should be my last day…

        • I’ve wondered for many years how long it would be til butt-air ceased to be funny. It never will be unfunny. Ever.

      • Did the articles say anything about treating all guns as if they are loaded, not pointing the gun at anything you are not willing to destroy, keeping your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target, and being sure of your target and what is beyond it?

    • The reason Massad Ayoob suggests not having a gun with a lightened trigger be two fold.

      1.) If you are under stress and have bad training you might unconsciously place your finger on the trigger, even if you are normally mister safety when you are standing on the firing line (due to never been put in a life and death situation).

      2.) If you have to struggle with someone for your gun in a worst case scenario you don’t want the gun to go off till one of you has control over it (hey good or bad it would be worse if you accidentally shot someone).

      Now, this man is one of THE authorities on lawful carry and use of lethal force. That doesn’t mean you have to blindly obey his every suggestion. I know for a fact that I can keep my finger off the trigger til I am ready to fire even in those situations (been there done than, lucky for me I didn’t have to put my finger on the “bang switch”), so number 1 doesn’t apply to me. As for number 2, well that IS a good enough reason for me to want a slightly heaver pull so that influenced my choice of carry gun. I have use a single/double with a short reset trigger. First round goes bang at 5lbs, after that it is a nice short pull right around 3 or so.

      It is up to you to make your own choice, and that is the amazing thing about this country we live in. YOU get to make that choice because with firearms it’s “Big boy rules” which means you are responsible for your decisions so you get to be the one to make them.

      Now, for my reaction to this situation. First, I am one of those people who will curse at you for even sweeping me with the upper from an AR that has no lower or bolt in it. So I would have been going apeshit with him pointing at people with the slide back let alone forward. Second, the instant the weapon went off I would be telling him to place it on the table and step away from it (if you are at a range with other people you are as much a safety officer as anyone appointed by the range and any range that disagrees is not safe enough for me to patronize). After I made sure the weapon was cleared I would then ask him to accompany me to the office to make the owner/operator aware of the situation. I have done this 3 times here in San Antonio and will not hesitate to do it again.

      • Hey, as a seasoned rifle and pistol instructor and frequent range NCO, I couldn’t agree with you more (on a civilian range).
        However, on Parris Island, Camp Lejeune, Quantico, or ANY Marine Corps range, my actions would be quite different. To start with, the irresponsible maggot would be “jacked up” immediately. Then he would receive a tongue lashing that would bring Chuck Norris to tears, then ejected from my range faster than Billy Martin used to be from a baseball game. Hey, the old adage about “Charlie, Ivan, Osama, or Obama (which ever enemy you choose) is already trying to kill us. Don’t help him!!” is used a lot on my range. ‘Nough said.

    • Point and laugh. Then immediately followed by being kicked out of the gun club.

      It shouldn’t be funny, but it is. Gun safety isn’t a laughing matter, so I’ll have to remember: don’t be the guy who shoots off his gun while showing it off. Already ahead of myself…

    • Undoubtedly, not all women will be offended by comments like that, or the bikini pics and so forth. But why even make it a potential issue? The RKBA is for everybody, not just guys. Why not just have the site be about guns and gun rights, and skip the T&A? It’s not like pictures of hot chicks are hard to find on the internet if that’s what you’re looking for.

      We all bitch whenever someone starts up with the old bullshit about guns being a compensation for a small penis and so forth, but when we condone macho dickhead behavior, it’s a lot harder to refute those kinds of stereotypes.

  1. If that happened at my range, the range master would be down there so fast, you wouldn’t have to even ask this question. So, I wonder, where was the range master? Its his job to discipline the shooter.

    By the way, what moron kept listening to this guy after the ND?

  2. So lucky to have a personal private range of my own. Havent had to share a range with others in years, but vividly remember one of my last times at one, with a family letting Lil Jonny the 8 yo Ritalin kid run out uncontained onto a hot range, not once but continually. Guns are dangerous, especially in the hands of morons.

  3. Were I the shooter, I would have immediately stopped, ensured the gun was completely clear (which I should have already done) put the gun down facing downrange and apologized profusely to everyone standing nearby. I would have then packed my gear and DQed myself from any further range activities for the day.

    Had I not been the “shooter” just a bystander as you were. I would have asked him to clear and ground the gun, and if he tried to continue his dissertation on the awesome trigger I would have left the area immediately. I have actually done this on a range when I was witness to something I deemed very unsafe, I advised those involved as to my opinion, politely etc. and when the behavior continued I removed myself from the situation asap.

  4. Off-topic: I saw that video on your channel, I wondered if that was your gun with a giggle switch or someone else’s. I thought that your upper + someone else’s lower may have been the case. One more reason to use a full-auto bolt carrier, because you never know. If you’d had a semi-auto carrier, you couldn’t have done that. 😀

    On-topic: My reaction would have been moderately profane. It would have started with, “Dude, shut the fvck up. Are you really trying to play that off like it didn’t just happen?” From there I probably would have suggested, firmly, that he pack his shit up and go home, because he wasn’t shooting here anymore this weekend. If it became necessary to involve the event organizers to make that happen because I was “not in charge,” so be it.

    I would be angry about the ND, but I would be much more angry at his refusal to acknowledge what just happened. Of course, add that on to the irritation I probably already would have felt at him showing off to begin with. An ND with the gun pointed downrange or in an otherwise (mostly) safe direction is one thing. An ND when you’ve spent the last 10 minutes muzzling people AND you try to play it off? Get the fvck out. Don’t come back ’til you can tell us what you did wrong.

    • ^^^ This^^^
      Only since my grand daughter would likly NOT be there, I would use many more curse words.
      I would demand that he be banned from the range until he attended and passed a safety course.
      But, since I’m a range safety officer at my club, maybe i’m a bit of an ass when it comes to safety….
      Now the next question, where did it land?

    • Well said. Thankfully there were no injuries. Irresponsible firearm user make matters worse for everyone.

    • Indian River range would just say “don’t come back”, or would have arrested him, as most of the range officers are local LEO’s. If you are going by the rules, even an “AD” could ONLY be downrange. Period.

      That was one lucky SOB to not have taken out an innocent. Imagine the MSM if it resulted in a fatality…

      No, will not post the headline possibilities. One of the few things I find no humor in.

  5. It would not have been a pleasant experience for the Poser ( Motorcycle background lingo required ) Sorry he / she does not have a clue. The range master or whoever was in charge should have sent the idiot packing. If there was a body of water near that gun should have been baptized if at all possible. Am I an Asshole ? So what, been called a lot worse.

    • +1. And I would remind the owners of the range I would not consider returning until I heard the RSO had counseled him, and what consequences were dealt to this nitwit, commensurate to the apparent lack of understanding or denial of the seriousness of his mistake.

  6. I concur – public shaming throat punch and shut the douchebag moron up of any further presentation of his wonderful free firing at will GLOCK… And Rangemaster should of been all in his face.

  7. should have been told to leave the range and not allowed to return until he addmitted his mistake in front of the range officials and the members refu at the next upcoming monthly meeting.refusal to do so would mean him being discharged from the range for life.if he owned up to mistake discuss preventive measures and place him on prbation for 3 months and he has to come in on sat to patch the foof w/ his own money.

    • I like this course of action.

      The only time I would overlook a stranger muzzling me is if I can see that that action is locked open. And even then I would probably chime in — although with slightly less urgency.

      • you should never allow anyone to sweep you.only time ill do is if firearm is broken down and incapable of firing.im in my workplace.you have to move parts around.but even then i take precautions like removing trigger box or firing pin.

  8. Well I have witnessed one very similar, I was at Shoot Straight Tampa when a guy walks up the desk to have his pistol checked the guy pulls the trigger the bullet flys right past my head. He makes another mistake by freaking out, and dropping the pistol it discharges again FML. I was kinda just thinking to my self Secure the Weapon, check for entry wounds check other people to make sure their ok. Bottom line it was an interesting day which ended in great range time. The Staff at Shoot Straight Tampa did the right thing by taking possession of the weapon, and verifying the customers and staff were not injured.

    • Recently? I was wondering why they stopped checking guns before range entry, this would probably do it. I never liked how they did it there. I was always having trouble extracting the 3-4 guns I’d be going to shoot from my bag, w/o sweeping the whole shop. The central desk was a nightmare for that, not to mention the guy who was having trouble with the slide on a CZ-75 trying to check it.

      Try Shooters world, it’s 200% brighter and doesn’t have the nasty carriers SS uses that are hit ALL THE TIME from how many dings and dents are all over them.

      • +1 to Shooters World, I’ll never set foot in Shoot Straight again. Safety has always been scary at SS.

    • Interesting, I was wondering why they stopped checking weapons also…strange I didn’t hear about that, one of my good fiends is a manager there.

      +1 on the range not being as good as shooters world, unfortunately SS is right around the corner from where I work, so it’s a bit more convenient. I will never shoot on their rifle range again though…

  9. I committed the cardinal sin of gun ownership myself back in 1995. It was a very cliché mistake where I did not double-check the chamber while cleaning my 92fs. The round went right into my brand new big screen tv. I was subsequently tossed out by my landlord for it. So, I lost my residence, and expensive tv, and was forced to sell several guns to pay for a new place to live. Stupidity has it’s price, but I am definitely super conscious of the status of every gun around me now, so lesson learned I guess.

  10. If I do it, I think a self-imposed DQ is appropriate, assuming nobody is hurt. I will then wear the “ribbons of shame” and shoot only airsoft until my colleagues were satisfied I learned my lesson.

    Is it a NG if the gun is facing in a safe direction (rule 2)?

    • Still an ND, but at least following rule two shows that you were somewhat conscious of basic safety rules. I’d forgive an ND that happened in a safe direction while the range is hot.

      • Hell I’ve had those; I was setting for the shot and sneezed while my finger was on the trigger guard. Gun went bang–guess the sneezing moved my hand enough.

        • [q]guess the sneezing moved my hand enough.[/q]

          I learned a lesson once, never sneeze with your foot on the gas pedal. Same root seems to apply here. Hands off when sneezing.

  11. as rangemaster he should have had him go home and not come back till he hand printed the rules of handleing a gun 100 times…or don’t come back…

  12. I would take his “awesome customized Glock”, clear it, and proceed to give him a beating about the head and shoulders with it until he had several “awesome customized Glock” shaped bruises and or welts. Hopefully the range master a range officer told him to pack up his gear and pound sand.

  13. This is exactly why “unloaded” guns are so much more dangerous than loaded ones. If the gun is always loaded, it’s not hard to actually treat it like it’s loaded. It’s when people “unload” that the discipline often slips.

    As far as what to do, I’ve always been a fan of shunning.

    • I like the shunning idea. The visual of this guy setting up on a bench and everyone else on the line packing up and walking away is kind of funny.

    • Agree wholeheartedly. The very first firearms training directive I ever gave my son:

      “There is NO SUCH THING as an unloaded firearm. If I hand you a weapon, if the Commandant of the Marine Corps hands you a weapon, if God himself hands you a weapon, and tells you ‘it’s unloaded’… you check and clear. Every time, without fail, always. If you set it down and take your eyes off it… it is loaded. If you are ever not sure it is loaded… it is loaded. Check and clear. No exceptions, ever.”

      He has never disappointed. Ruffled more than a few feathers at fun stores/ranges when he clears a weapon the salesperson/expert just cleared. Doesn’t matter, to him or me.

      • This is 100% correct. A gun is always loaded. That’s just a good default position to have. I’ve gotten some annoyed looks from sales clerks for checking a gun I just watched him/her clear, but it doesn’t really bother me. It’s just become a habit.

  14. While I would like to say that I would exact some sort of vigilante shooting range justice on the guy, in all honesty I likely would have just walked away and avoided him like the plague for the rest of the event.

  15. Tar and feathers, him and his Glock. And if I or G-d forbid my wife had been one of the people he covered, that supressor would have found a new home lodged in his colon.

  16. Never seen an ND, but at the open range that I used to go to, a couple of guys who apparently had too much money and played a few too many video games as the only two guns they brought to the range were a Desert Eagle and a SPAS-12 which I had never seen in person until then. The kid was too young to have acquired it himself before they stopped importing them, so I assume it cost him a pretty penny to get it from someone who had. Anyway, the kid shooting the DE did not have a good grip and therefore the gun wouldn’t cycle completely. He kept getting jam after jam. The first couple times, his larger friend would help him clear the jam, after he had seen it done a few times, I guess he thought he could handle it himself, so with rounds in the magazine, he turned to the side, muzzled everyone to his left and then began trying to rack the slide with his finger still in the well. After realizing I could have been perforated, I walked over to their bay and asked them to be more careful to which I was told to mind my own business with a few expletives thrown in for good measure. Before I could retort, an older gentleman who was there only collecting brass was in the kids face and told him off about his lack of safety and that he had no business being on the range. They packed up and left after being scolded by the man.

    • You are lucky that he didn’t consider himself to have been “punked” like that bouncer in Florida.

  17. He blew all four gun safety rules in one fell swoop. If he had half a brain he would have at least pointed the thing down range first.

  18. Anybody can screw up. Considering that noone was hurt, that he didn’t’ acknowledge it is a bigger issue than the fact it happened.

    If it was me, I’d immediately clear the weapon, apologize profusely, await my throat punch….and then pack up for the day.

    If it was the guy mentioned, I’d summon the considerable vocabulary of swear words of the 4th generation sailor I am, and tell the guy exactly what I thought about what he did and his complete lack of concern about it.

    And then I’d mock the guy that blamed it on a 3.5lb trigger 😉

    • +1
      The refusal to acknowledge the wrong is what really bothers me here, because it shows that, not only is he a tragedy waiting to happen, he isn’t going to stop being a tragedy waiting to happen. Someone around him is going to get hurt.

    • Shiver me timbers!

      Were that scabrous cur to foul me deck with ‘is presence, first ‘e’d be kissin’ th’ gunner’s daughter an’ then ‘e’d be makin’ all cozy like with th’ keel!

      Aarghh!!!

  19. Pre-emptively threaten to kick his ass IF he is responsible for a negligent discharge, and then follow through with the threat if he has one. Then again, all NDs can be prevented with basic gun safety. A brass check takes all of half a second.

  20. I have been near a ND (not mine, another person’s).

    I was working security. Gun teardown/cleaning incident, and I was looking away from him so I didn’t see it happening until it was too late.

    That’s the bad news.

    The good news is no one was hurt (except for my ear drums, it was a room barely bigger than a walk-in closet). He also had the sense to stop what he was doing and realize the severity of what he just did.

    We all had mandatory gun safety training over it, and he eventually found himself out of a job. Needless to say, I doubt it’ll happen again.

  21. I never allow anyone to show me their new revolver without the cylinder open, a new pistol without the slide racked open and magazine out. Ditto for rifles.

    I just don’t. I don’t trust anyone. I have had people who have offered me to hold their guns and I have asked them to open the action first before I touched it. It has only been a single instance, but in that one instance their was a live round still in the gun. So, now I just force the other person to open the gun. Sometime I get a lot of crap for it.

    I have not had ND myself, but I have seen it at a range were I was RSO. I was not the RSO who called it, but a more senior RSO was on it as soon as it happened and called cease fire. Once everyone was stopped, he explained what happened over the PA system. Then he had the gentleman come forward and handed him the mic and said something like “Thankfully no one was hurt today, I believe you owe everyone an apology and then we can start up again” The guy manned up and apologized, then took his stuff and left.

    I think that is the only right thing to do, apologize and then pack up and leave so nobody is wondering when you will screw up again.

    To just make believe nothing happened and keep going is totally BS. I would also be pissed if the RSO did nothing.

    • “I think that is the only right thing to do, apologize and then pack up and leave so nobody is wondering when you will screw up again.”

      Yeah, you might as well leave, because to be honest, nobody is going to be comfortable around you the rest of the weekend. At least until the event fades a little bit into memory, you’re going to be something of a pariah. And that’d be true even if I knew you personally.

    • Pascal, the rule you seem almost apologetic about is SOP where I shoot unless the gun is pointed down range and the recipient is on the line.

    • Ralph, it’s a communicable disease: Just like Connecticut, you have apparently given LEO’s an exemption: If those Glock unholstering/holstering unintentional shots aren’t ND’s, what do you call them? TCM’s (Tired Cop Moments)?

  22. If it was any sort of authorized match, I’m surprised this question was necessary. Should have been an immediate DQ for the day, pack his stuff and go home.

    Mistakes do happen. But that’s why we have 3 (or 4) safety rules instead of just one. It’s the cascade of failures that kills – not just a single failure. Sounds like this fellow came very close to aligning all his failures at once, with potentially tragic consequences.

  23. I’d be like WTF man!! Seriously, you’d think owners of NFA items would at least be a small notch above everyone else regarding safety and weapons handling. Just because it wasn’t a loud ear-ringing discharge doesn’t make the ND a ho-hum event. What a poor attitude.

  24. Tell him point blank that if he can’t handle a firearm safely,
    if he has one he will not be allowed near me. Call it quits
    for the day and send him packing as well.

    I’m surprised that you didn’t say something or back off
    though.

  25. I guess first, my personal rule is no trigger when not shouldered and pointed down range in an aimed fashion (at the range). Ever. EVER.

    I always check that a firearm is clear before showing someone, and I always take a moment to show clear to the person I’m talking to. The same kind of way like in IDPA when you have to show the RO empty chamber, empty mag well, downrange+drop hammer.

    So it goes down like this:

    Some guy: “That’s neat, tell me about it”
    Me: “Sure” (I check clear)
    Me: “Please come here and verify we’re clear”
    Some guy: “ok” (I show them clear, or tell them where to look if they don’t know)

    Also, when handing guns off to others (or having them handed to me) I train everyone I’m hanging out with to check clear and show clear on both ends of the handoff. I’ll check clear and show clear, then hand it to you, at which point you check clear and show clear. This may sound redundant but it’s easy to remember and redundancy is your friend in this instance.

    I wish it was just standard gun courtesy to check and show each time a gun gets into a new hand.

    • YES! THIS! This is exactly what I do as well. Since I started requiring verification of clear on both sides of a handoff I have not had a single question as to my safety. In addition, since I show many people and mostly new shooters, quite a few have come back later and thanked me for showing them to verify clear and that they had found themselves or others to have made mistakes and that by requiring clear as I had demonstrated they were able to not only avoid tragedy, but also to teach it to others. Gun owners who are safe should be the teachers not only of newbies, but other gun owners, and in the event of an off day for anyone, to let it slide with no comment is the same as doing it yourself.

  26. I propose a new standard for all ranges. Anyone who discharges a firearm negligently at a shooting range should be required to leave immediately and be banned for one month or something like that. And they should be required to explain their mistake and proper handling before being cleared to use the range again. Anything other than sending rounds down range when the range is hot would be a negligent discharge. (I don’t care if a person sends a round down range when the range is hot even if they did not intend to do so … they put absolutely no one or anything at risk. While that would be an unintentional discharge, it would not be a negligent discharge.)

    Second, all ranges, gun stores, training programs, education programs, competitions, articles, blogs, firearm videos, and friendly meetings (amongst firearm enthusiasts) should mention the simple best practice of handling and transferring firearms: remove the magazine, cycle the action several times, and lock the action open when handling or transferring a firearm.

    However rare negligent discharges may be, they are not rare enough. We can get close to zero if we make it a point to educate people on the simple and safe best practices. It isn’t rocket science.

  27. “As he demonstrated each new feature, the muzzle of the gun moved around wildly.”

    Shouldn’t that have been the point to make him stop?

  28. I’d leave.

    That said, I’ve been around a few NDs – they all occurred when I was in the service and they all involved a clearing barrel. Clearing barrels are 55 gallon drums full of sand the military puts at entry control points and outside dining facilities, the PX, etc. downrange in an attempt to ensure that no one enters with a loaded weapon.

    The problem is that most of the time you’re clearing a weapon that is not locked and loaded. Since there is no magazine present, the “remove source of ammunition” step gets skipped. And you do that A LOT (3 times a day, if you’re someplace with a chow hall that serves hot food).

    Eventually, something happens and Joe actually has to load a magazine (guard duty, escort the local nationals working on post, etc). He then goes somewhere there is a clearing barrel. He’s been “clearing” his weapon with no magazine present several times a day for over a month now. Muscle memory takes over, and he shoots the clearing barrel. Then he gets a General Officer Memorandum of Reprimand added to his file and his career is over. Happens all the time.

    • Old MP here. On my post we carried locked and loaded. Not only did we have clearing barrel NDs. We had a least one every couple months in the arms room.

      One armor shot. One round through a case of CS grenades, clearing the PMO. All in 14 months at that duty station.

      Had a SFC let off a round of 00 buck at a dwelling. Clearing a shotgun after an incident, instead of pointing it at a ditch next to the road, he levels it at the house, racks the slide. KABOOM!

      Not a good night.

      • One round through a case of CS grenades, clearing the PMO.

        Sorry – despite the seriousness of the topic and the event, I had to laugh a little at that one.

  29. Extremely important note:
    It is a felony in most, if not all, states to point a firearm at another person whether the firearm is allegedly loaded or not. There are no exceptions to such laws while at ranges or “showing off” your firearm to someone.

    If you see someone sweeping other people at the range, consider promptly informing the instigator that they just committed a felony. And if they cop an attitude, consider calling the police.

    I am about as tolerant a person as you’ll ever meet. However, I will not tolerate a person pointing a firearm at me. I hope no one else will, either.

    • Pulling the felony card on someone who clearly intends no harm is the opposite of tolerant. Besides, I bet everyone here has been on both ends of an inadvertent muzzle-sweep.

      For most people, a simple safety reminder should be all you need. If someone gets belligerent and/or continues to endanger people, then do whatever is necessary to keep yourself safe — the best response would probably be to simply leave the area.

      • Ing,

        I would agree with you if the stakes were not so high. Whether or not someone intends harm when they sweep their muzzle past you, there are examples of unintentional discharges that have injured and killed people.

        My point of informing the person that they committed a felony is to impress the gravity of the situation upon them. A lot of people blow-off safety comments. It’s a totally different matter to tell someone, “That wasn’t safe and you just committed a felony. Do it again and you are going to prison.”

        Please note that I did not advocate calling the police unless the offender copped an attitude … or sweeps someone again.

  30. Someone once told me that if you work with enough guns long enough eventually one will go off when you don’t wan it to. This is part of why you need to follow 4 basic gun safety rules and most importantly, KEEP YOUR DAM FINGER OFF TRIGGER. I’ve had one ND in my life. I was on a private “range” with my grandpa gun jammed and i was attempting to clear it. Luckily it was pointing down range at a safe direction . 1911 pistol we thought it didn’t chamber a round i dropped the hammer and bam. Followed the other rules though so no one was hurt. I’ve got a friend who always dry fires and cleans guns in front of his fridge or A/C unit so if a round does go off no one gets fragged. We’ve got a layered gun safety system so if you forget one rule but follow the others odds are still against anyone getting hurt. Me if some ass hat did this and tried to play it off. Id unload and clear the gun then beat him to death with it.

  31. When I was kid I was told that pulling the trigger on an empty gun would break it, so never do it. I later found out that wasn’t true but I’ve never pulled the trigger on a gun that was empty or that I thought was empty.

  32. Either the Safety officer tells Mr. ND to GTFO right then (especially after his poor muzzle discipline), or you head for the exit. The Safety Officer should have been all over his a$$ about waving the piece around anyways.

    Then public humiliation for Mr. ND until he masters basic firearm safety.

    • I’ll just point out to everyone (not singling you out, TheDabbo) commenting on how the RSO should have been all over this guy’s butt…

      one of the other shooters on the line who had a heavily customized suppressed GLOCK handgun

      Note the boldface text. Unless someone from the group flags down an RSO, it’s extremely unlikely that they’d notice an ND like this unless they were actually watching the guy as it happened.

      • You make a good point Alpha- the ND with a suppressed handgun would be less noticeable. I’m wondering why someone didn’t nip it in the bud when Mr. ND had the gun pointed in an unsafe direction. Maybe they did, and he kept it up.

  33. Looks like I’m in late on this one, but I’ll answer anyway since most of the response seem to be responding to the implied question “what would you do if you were the one who pulled the trigger?” Instead, I’ll respond to “what should Nick have done in this situation?”

    Upon witnessing any unsafe action — whether it’s a serious muzzle-safety violation, or as in this case, a negligent discharge — the action needs to STOP. Right fscking now. Not when the perp is done telling their story, immediately upon the occurrence of a safety violation.

    Sometimes, it’s a low-key thing for a minor violation where the experienced shooter helping the newbie in the lane next door stops the newbie, gets the gun pointed in a safe direction, and reminds them of the rules. No intervention by strangers or RSOs required.

    In this case, Nick, I would have called a stop to the action when he pointed the “empty” gun anywhere but downrange. Failing that, I absolutely would have used “command voice” to strongly request that the shooter freeze in his current position immediately after the ND, then asked him to point the muzzle in a safe direction, clear the gun, and set it down on the nearest bench. If at a range with RSOs (as seemed to be the case here) I would then ask someone else to go get an RSO while we all waited. Nobody’s allowed to leave until the RSO arrives. Then it’s over to the RSOs for incident investigation and next steps.

    The problem with the story as related above is that nobody took control of the situation when the Glock owner failed to exercise good judgment. Yes, it’s uncomfortable to do so, but spend some time leading Cub/Boy Scouts, a rifle squad, etc. and you’ll soon be rid of any compunctions about intervening. Yes, you may lose acquaintances whom you might have valued as friends — but I would argue that anyone who gets pissed about handling these situations promptly and correctly isn’t someone you should consider friend material.

    On a related note, I’ve always been ambivalent about magazine disconnects (i.e. magazine removed disconnects trigger linkage). Every story I read like this pushes me towards thinking “magazine disconnects… maybe not such a bad idea.”

    • The problem is, stupid people can learn to rely on magazine disconnects instead of proper safe handling and clearing procedures. Not all pistols have mag disconnects, so imagine what a careless lout who is handling an unfamiliar pistol without one might do.

      It is much better to pound the four rules into people than have them rely on the use of passive and/or active safeties.

      • These types of accidents–which appear to me to be the most common of all NDs–are precisely why California has mandated a mag disconnect for semiauto pistols. Never did understand why these devices are so widely hated, despised and disconnected. I mean, how many times have you heard of someone discharging a firearm while cleaning it, believing (as they all say) that they thought the gun was unloaded?

      • Michael B: you’re creating an “OR” situation when it should be “AND” — regardless of the existence of magazine disconnects, anyone handling a firearm must follow the mandatory safety practices. To take your point to its logical conclusion, we therefore should not have external safeties on guns because if everyone would just use good holsters and trigger-finger control there would be no accidental discharges. I don’t believe that, and I don’t think you believe that, but that’s where your argument leads.

        Mark N: I’ve heard two arguments against mag disconnects:

        The first is the (IMHO) wrong-headed false-assumption-of-safety argument put forth by Michael B, which assumes that having a mag disconnect relieves one of the responsibility to follow the safety rules regardless.

        The second, and this one is more of a head-scratcher, is that in a life-or-death situation it’s better to be able to get off even a single shot if your magazine isn’t properly seated or gets inadvertently ejected. I can sort of understand where those folks are coming from. However, weighed against the number of NDs and accidental shootings (many by kids) with a weapon which was believed to have been made safe by removing the magazine, it seems to me that society benefits from a requirement that all semi-auto handguns ship with a magazine disconnect but that there be no specific penalty for anyone who wants to invest the time/effort to remove same. That way your low-frequency-of-range-visit gun owner who owns a single Glock for home defense defaults to a safer baseline state, while someone like Michael B can remove the mag disconnect because he’s an experienced, safe shooter with enough knowledge of handguns to know what a magazine disconnect is.

        • Alpha, the main objection to the High Power’s mag disconnect among military people flowed from the notion that with a relatively high-capacity magazine, it was not a rare thing to want to switch magazines for a full one after ten or twelve rounds. During the mag change the fellow wants a round available. In non-combat non-“my rifle has failed” situations it is more difficult to sympathize with the objection.

        • And a High Power without the mag disconnect has a better trigger pull. I don’t know if it works like that with all makes but it would seem that way with the Browning.

        • To me, there are a lot of “stupid” (or untrained) gun owners out there who have never had a safety course and never learned the four rules. The mag disconnect is for those “idiots” who believe–and if I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it hundreds of times–that a gun is unloaded when you drop the mag. Manufacturers always build to the lowest common denominator for the general market, and there is a good reason that they do.

    • I’d do the same, and at risk of being accused of being a d1ck by some, if it saves a life, and sets the example for someone else to do the right thing later, its worth it.

      I’ve been warned myself at a good local outdoor range about being in front of the firing line, messing with things on the bench, when range called cold, and didnt mind a bit when someone intervened.

      You can be diplomatic but firm and do the job.

  34. I would be interested to know if an SO said or did anything. From my perspective I shouldn’t have to get involved in this situation. It should be dealt with PDQ, starting his ass being eighty sixed out the Fvcking door.

  35. Well, first things first, I hate the phrase negligent discharge. It may be descriptive, it was in fact negligent, and it was a discharge, but to say to someone “oh that was a negligent discharge” seems to divorce the negligent person from their act. It isn’t as simple to say, but it is better to simply own it. It was a guy at the range who acted an irresponsible fool and is lucky he didn’t kill someone. If you need a short phrase for it, just call it gunstupid, cause that is what it is.

    When you drive a car you have to monitor and maintain hundreds of rules of the road, and multiple sensory inputs at a high rate of speed making fast accurate judgements to avoid collision. With a gun, there are four rules you must maintain, and to me, if you get those wrong, you are a safety risk to others and should rethink your training and if you think it is just “no big deal” maybe you should rethink gun ownership…and perhaps driving.

    1) All guns are always loaded
    2) never place you finger in the trigger guard until you are on target and ready to fire
    3) always be sure of your target and what lies beyond
    4) never point a gun at anything you are not immediately ready and willing to destroy.

    How do you screw that up? Well, I did it once long ago, and I took myself back and put the training wheels on. And yes, that made me a bit of an a$$hole. Because of my experience I added a fifth rule –
    5) whenever there is a gun present it deserves 100% of my attention when it is being touched.

    I was very lucky, as was your compatriot in this example. I was new to guns when I had mine, and it was a bone stock Walther, and there were extenuating circumstances that distracted me at the precise moment that it took to cause the incident, but I own that I could have 100% avoided my gunstupid moment had I taken seriously that it only takes being distracted for a single moment when handling a gun to cause someone to perhaps DIE. Never to be taken lightly.

    You ask what is the right thing to do in this event? I’ll tell you what I did with mine.
    1) I recognized that I was gunstupid and I, with great focus removed my mag, removed the bullets from the mag, and in a safe direction, cleared the chamber, and put the bullets in a box, and took the gun apart and put the pieces in a bag to transport them home, I was too stupid to be a gun owner that day.
    2) I went to the property owner and informed them of my stupidity and asked them if they would allow me to repair the damage to the wall at my own expense, and what other actions they may wish to pursue.
    3) I drove myself to the Sheriffs office and made a report against myself and clarified that I had negotiated to repair the property that was damaged and that no person or animal had been harmed.
    4) I accepted that my report would be submitted to the DA for potential prosecution (which thankfully the DA felt was unecessary)
    5) I left my gun at home in pieces and started practicing the 5 rules of gun safety everywhere I went using an airsoft model fitted with a laser (to see where I pointed the muzzle) carrying concealed as I normally would until I NEVER caught myself breaking those fundamental rules.

    Among my shooting and non shooting peers today over a decade later I am respected as the safest gun owner (they know) and the most willing to call people out anywhere for unsafe practices, and further to offer to take the time to teach ANYONE of good moral character and intent the rules and practices necessary to be a safe and responsible gun owner.

    My carrying is to protect myself and the lives of innocents from other lethal force, and I negate that by being the fool. I hope that if ever I make a mistake again, there is a brave gun owner or other well versed person there to call me out for being gunstupid.

    To sit there like nothing happened….I would never allow that person back to shoot with me or at my range ever again. They clearly do not feel a connection to the responsibility that is firearms ownership. He is just a fellow with more money than common sense, and racing stripes on his hot rod death machine that he is obviously not a master of.

    • I think you’re overthinking your objection to “negligent discharge.” The usage there is precisely NOT to divorce the operator from the action, but to tie the two together. The other common usage is “accidental discharge,” and that is almost always incorrect. Accidents come out of nowhere, usually without outside intervention. If you’re walking through the woods and a tree falls on you, that’s an accident. The discharge happened because you were negligent, not because it was an accident. Therefore, negligent discharge.

      ETA: I realize you weren’t speaking in favor of “accidental discharge,” I was just using it as a contrasting example of why the ND term is used.

      • I appreciate the feedback and maybe I could explain a little more. That is of course true, tying the two together may bring the point home to many. The problem I have found with calling it a negligent discharge is that for a self respecting gun owner that is a true mark of shame, for the newer gun owner or the uncaring one, it is simply a term they can forget about.

        I have talked with a couple ND’s at the local range and when called out on it, they seemed cool, like ok it was no big deal “I guess I’ll try better”. When I explained that an ND was them acting stupid and selfish and trusting that no one would be hurt that the look of emotional appreciation came over their features. Some argued, and got booted, others respected their failure and seemed to feel the weight of the experience and were allowed to stay under direct supervision. I feel the lesson stuck better when I pricked their pride.

        When I was going through my search and rescue training, we were placed into a no win scenario in order to force us to fail at great cost. When doing our after action I asked the CO what was the point of forcing us to fail. He replied that people forget their successes, and they will eventually find less fault in their failures, but to be emotionally involved in the memory of failure will seat the lesson.

        Ten years of psychology training since and there is massive truth to that statement. Think on your most potent memories and they will likely have strong emotional connections. THere is a biochemical reason I wont bore anyone with that makes this true.

        Calling an ND gunstupid might shake you up a bit as a newbie, particularly if those words come from an RSO or other authority. I personally believe that calling like I see it has had more positive long term effect than the simple descriptor of negligent discharge. I may be considered too harsh in that way, but I would rather be harsh than dead.

        You make a valid point though in that to known honorable and safe gun owners I might use ND, but then again, so many of them who know my stance and my story, and that I am not afraid to apply the label to myself that they simply accept that to shoot something when not intended is extremely stupid and so gunstupid is simply the truth of the moment.

  36. Gun handling rules at our range: (1) the only time you are touching the firearm behind the shootiong benches is when you are taking it out of the case and moving it to the firing point bench, WITH THE MUZZLE UPWARDS. (2) Lay the firearm on the bench, be sure the bolt/slide/cylinder is open, insert the “open bolt indicator” flag into the chamber.(3) Step back behind the yellow line, behind the shooting points, and do NOT touch the firearm until the rangemaster tells you to go forward to your firing point and says the range is open. (4) Fire at the targets only, do not fire at other objects downrange. If you finish before the cease fire, clear the firearm and move it immediately (muzzle up) to the gun case on the back bench. Put it in the case and do not touch it or show it to your buddy. DO NOT go forward of the shooting line to pick up brass. (5) When “cease fire” is called, clear the ammo out of the firearm, open the chamber, insert chamber indicator, and step back behind the yellow liine. (6) When everyone is back and no one is near the firerms on the shooting benches, the rangemaster will send the shooters forward to post/retrieve targets and pick up brass that is forward of the shooting line. NO ONE is to be forward of the yellow line while shooters are downrange. NO ONE is allowed to handle a firearm under any conditions other than those described.

    If you violate the rules, you are told to leave the range. If you will not leave, we call the Sheriff and have you removed for trespassing.

    If you don’t like the rules, find a gravel pit.

    We have nearly 60 shooting points on our range, and we enforce these safety rules stringently.

    • Why don’t you have folks case/uncase guns right there at the firing line? Seems like you could remove a step and increase safety, namely the part where you permit people to transport the gun between the firing line and some location elsewhere to encase the gun.

      • I was thinking the same thing. And forgive me, but I find the open bolt flags inane. Take it to the line, uncase it, keep it pointed downrange at all times. Safer, less complicated.

      • This is similar to one of the ranges here. There are no benches but there are some rifle racks behind the line for uncased long guns. During a cease fire, all guns are left unloaded, actions open, but you don’t case them for each cease fire. When you come and go, the guns are cased/uncased at the line, but if you want to leave after getting your target you need to remove your gun from the line before the cease fire is called, otherwise you’ll have to wait for the range to re-open. This prevents anyone from handling guns while there are people down range.

      • Sorry, that wasn’t clear on my part. When they arrive, they can take the gun to the firing bench in the case, uncase it there, and move the case back to the bench or rack behind the line. We get quite a few folks who are sighting-in more than one rifle, so there is some back and forth between the shooting line and the back bench.

        Why the chamber flags? Because we had some idiot (10 years ago) who left a round in the chamber when cease-fire was called, and then proceeded to fiddle with the gun while people were downrange. He did not hit anyone, no thanks to his idiocy. The chamber flags are a quick visual check for the rangemaster to make sure that the gun is unloaded before 30- 50 peole walk downrange. If we were dealing with 2 or 3 people at the range, it would b easier, but we are running a large public range near a city with lots of gun owners, some of them pretty new to the process.

        You have to manage the range for the lowest common denominator.

    • Pete. On our range you cannot handle any guns during a cease-fire. You must be standing behind the line and you cannot even uncase a firearm during a cease fire. Once the range goes hot, you can bring the firearm up, work on your scope, shoot, etc. I’m a range officer and all of the range officers enforce the rule to the max. Zero tolerance. If you are deemed as “unsafe” you are asked to leave and could face being booted from the club. We have five hundred members and can’t afford an ND accident.

  37. Curious, how did it even get to the ND point without one of you “experienced” shooters ensuring all firearms were in a safe condition, pointed in a safe direction at all times (not at people), and finger off the trigger?

    Honestly, given the text and substance of the story, at the very least you should have known better. On the range, any one can call an unsafe condition and immediately cease operations. The person that pulled the trigger and each of you are responsible. Loaded or unloaded, you ALWAYS maintain muzzle awareness. Frankly, I’m shocked. Refresh yourself with NRA Safety Rules. Refresh yourself with USPSA Safety Rules. Refresh yourself with 3 Gun/MultiGun Safety Rules. Just about all of them were broken by all of you.

  38. I have seen more negligent discharges with the m9 pistol in the Army than any other weapon system including open bolt m249 and m240 weapon systems. If you were lower enlisted that happened to commit the offence on a range you would be beating your face until you wished you had popped that round off in your head, if you did it on deployment UCMJ was the punishment. With officers it was kind of laughed off.

    • Is the high rate of M9 SD’s due to the system of operation for a DA/SA pistol vs rifles and squad automatics, or is it because of something particular to the M9?

      • No it is operator error. Most people that carry them get very little trigger time with them, because why use a pistol when you have an m4. It isn’t anything mechanical, just the operator not knowing how the weapon functions.

        Same with open bolt machine guns a lot of guys haven’t fired one since basic so when they get assigned when after being so use to the m4 and closing the bolt, they do the same thing with the 249 with a belt in the feed tray.

  39. I really don’t know; for the most part, words fail me of this.

    At the very least, either he planned to let off the remaining round, in which case his waving the piece around is unforgivable – let alone that a descending bullet represents a quite real danger – or he didn’t, in which case his blundering on without pause was stupidious and wrong.

    I hope that at least he was banned from the range, but I’d like to see him in pillory.

    At the very least, I hope that you publicly called him out on being the Dweeb of the Day.

    Crike!

    • Deer hunting many years ago, had a friend who had been grouse hunting clear his 12 ga. by putting a hole in the ground one foot from my left foot. Our rule was “clear and safe the gun preferably chamber open, as you return to camp”. I had just asked him if he cleared it…then he did. It got real quiet around camp after the ND. I was so stunned then angry, then glad that I was alive, that I couldn’t even speak. He was not invited back.

  40. I didn’t consciously keep track of it the way I would a loaded firearm…

    All firearms are always loaded.

    I think I read that in a book once, Nick – author’s name escapes me, but the title is “Getting Started With Firearms In The United States”…

    If I’m at a range, and somebody’s muzzle-flashing people, loaded or not, I’m leaving and letting the safety officer know on the way out. A day at the range ain’t worth getting shot by a moron.

  41. When I was 15 0r 16, over 40 years ago, I put a hole in my bedroom ceiling (and roof)with my Stevens 311C Double 20ga. I was treating it as though it was loaded by pointing it in a safe direction when I pulled the trigger. It was an unusual chain of events that got me there but I was very consciously obeying the one rule that is a life saver. What to do? Learn from it.

    Mea culpa, Mea culpa, Mea Maxima culpa.
    Admit to your self the serious mistake, no excuses, incorporate it into your being and go forward, KNOWING, it can happen. Now I would say, I’m in the 99th percentile of safety because of it.
    In the 40 years since, the closest I’ve come to another ND or unintentional one is with sights on target the light second pull on a DA/SA went a little sooner than expected.

    So the other half of the question is, what did you do when you were the ND’er?

  42. If it was me: I’d clear the firearm and offer a simple apology. Assuming I wasn’t beaten to death I’d exit the range quietly and never return. For a period of six to eight months I’d extricate myself from the local gun community. After the exile ended I’d join a different range, go only on non-busy days, and shoot in the farthest corner away from other humans.

    If I was present: Well, there’d be a chain of expletives *after* the retard put the gun down. You never know when some idiot’s machismo and foolishness will collide. He might shoot me, or he might freeze under the avalanche of profanity and squeeze the trigger again.

  43. I had a rifle go off by accident at a competition one time. This rifle was on a rest and pointed at the target but I was closing the bolt and moving it forward to contact the stop on the rest when it happened. Light, light trigger (1.5 oz) and my finger may of contacted the trigger when I closed the bolt. It went off before the range master said commence firing. I was thoroughly questioned about the safety of the gun, shamed a little, I felt like hell, but safety was maintained and I continued. I broke the rule, not purposely, of keeping the finger out of the trigger guard until ready to fire but obeying all other rules kept everyone safe. You could say this guy kept all the other rules in play and despite paying for a hole in the roof, he will just have to put up with the shame for awhile and no one got hurt.

  44. I need make no suggestion, as good ones have been offered. I am astounded, though, at how many weak-minded people think they need fancy guns, suppressors, and such, without acquiring an absolutely grooved set of safety habits first. Astounded.

  45. At Chabot range I was sitting at my bench on the line working a Lee Enfield. I glanced to my right and at the next bench over a 12 yo with daddies .357 magnum was pointing said magnum at me. I bunched and got ready to come off the bench when the RSO got his hand on the revolver and proceeded to bless daddy out and call a cease fire. The kid was not pointing the gun with murderous intent but was just playing around with it while his daddy was standing behind the line preoccupied with a conversation with another shooter.

    Daddy and child were escorted back to the raqnge office. From there i lost sight of them. The RSO came by in a few to thank me for not over reacting. I did not see daddy or the kid again.

    • What is it about newbies and .357 revolvers?

      JWM, don’t know if you recognize these folks or not, but… Last time I was at Chabot there was a family group in the lane next to me. They were shooting a .357 with a 4-inch barrel and, if I’m any judge, .38spl loads. A teens/20-something female, clearly on her first shooting expedition, egregiously lasered me with the revolver when she was done shooting because she held it in her hand and pivoted away from the target instead of putting it on the bench. Fortunately one of the other members of their group caught that and stopped things before it got ugly.

      Prior to that, on a trip to Reed’s indoor range, I was compelled to have a friendly word with the father/son pair in the next lane because they were using both thumbs to cock (you guessed it) a .357 revolver with a finger on the trigger. Every. Damn. Time. And the gun was pointed down at a 30deg angle while they were cocking it. Can you say “ricochet”? I guess I should be grateful they at least knew to keep it pointed downrange.

      The funny thing is that they thanked me after I pointed out the safety issue and invited me to fire a few rounds. It was a great opportunity to demonstrate good gun handling, stance, etc. without lecturing them on it, and I was gratified to see that they picked up on the cues and changed their practices thereafter.

  46. All Negligent Discharges should be reported to the Range Marshal ASAP after assessing if there are any injuries. And then I would leave the range immediately following the negligent discharge because it has now become an unsafe environment.

    A solid Rule of Thumb is to never stick around an area where you are taking Fire…whether it be a Negligent Discharge or actual incoming rounds.

  47. The clearance procedure I was taught involves working the action three times after removing the mag (if any), then locking the gun open, and visually checking the mag well, and visually and physically checking the bolt face and chamber. That goes for all guns, every time. I don’t see how you could have an ND after that.

  48. “I didn’t consciously keep track of it the way I would a loaded firearm”
    Betcha don’t make THAT mistake again.

    Rule #1 All firearms are LOADED.

  49. Well, i just the read the other article about the gangbanger shooting his friends in the head after a practical joke. I assume the same rules apply: after negligent discharge, reload and shoot everyone nearby. That way you wont be lauhed at.

  50. This is why each and everyone of us is issued with a stacking swivel, so that we can be snatched up by it in the event of ignorant or unacceptable or clueless behavior .Carry on and be safe.

  51. “How would you handle that?”

    You mean,..after he regains consciousness? A lifetime ban from the range,
    to represent the life he could have taken from his irresponsible handling
    of a firearm. Then a handcuffed frog-walk to the nearest police cruiser for
    reckless endangerment. Sorry, I have no patience for wanton stupidity.
    Not when it involves a ND that might have led to a ND(Negligent Death).
    It’s happened twice here in Florida, and at a range where I shoot. A week
    before, I was standing where one guy was killed. Humor? I’m missing it.

  52. Check for leaks, then apply the proper amount of social pressure to make sure teachable opportunity isn’t lost. I don’t mean being rude but it’s happened around me and I ordered the gun handler to put the gun down and recite what he did wrong, why, and how to avoid it in the future in the company of whatever witnesses were listening. Then went back to shooting. If he has bucked my order to recite out of pridefullness, I’d have forcibly removed him, but upon witnessing the surprise amount of contrition, I saw no reason we couldn’t continue our shooting session as friends.

  53. I witnessed a ND recently (last year, pre-craziness) at a gun show here in Austin. I was in the process of converting my wife and took her to the show as a way to show her guns were nothing to fear once you become familiar with them.

    We are walking around casually in a crowded aisle and the ND happens two aisles down from us, probably no more than 15 yards or so, right in the middle of the exhibit. Apparently, a customer was having a conversation with one of the vendors about how to carry their weapon, so the dealer took out his concealed carry piece, dropped the mag, and promptly fired the loaded round into the concrete floor.

    What I find most amazing is given that there were easily 2,000+ people in very close proximity to that event, no one got hurt and no one freaked out. Everyone just stopped dead in their tracks and turned their head to the dealer who by that time probably felt about 5 inches tall and was trying to physically shrink himself to that size through sheer force of will.

    It took right about 8 seconds for every LEO on the premises to bum rush his table. They IMMEDIATELY confiscated his weapon, cuffed him, and removed him from the building. The cops then began (very unceremoniously) throwing all his guns and other items on the table into boxes, gave them to the dealers other staff members or partners, and told them to GTFO. As I understand it, his business is now blacklisted from participating in any future gun shows and who knows what actually happened to him.

    It really illustrates that this can happen to anyone who gets careless with the rules of gun safety and why it’s important to go through the motions of safety each and every time regardless of how “unloaded” you think that gun is. This was a well respected dealer and firearms expert that pretty much ruined his career and livelihood thanks to this one incident and he really should just be thanking his lucky stars that no one was hurt.

    • As if it needs to be said more. Never pull your carry piece except under threat of death. Using it as a demonstrator when you have tables full of safe weapons is a true face palm moment.

      • Well, even so, I’ll correct you. No it doesn’t. The 1A prevents the government from passing a law restricting your speech. It does nothing to protect you from a site owner removing anything he objects to, nor does it protect you from the people on that board calling you out or ostracizing you over your uncouth behavior.

  54. Had a bit of a kerfuffle at my NRA trainers course. Classroom work with a designated “down range”. One of the student instructors was giving a presentation using a real demo gun. Demo guns were all slide locked on empty chamber or cylinders dropped. Each was verified by at least one other person as clear before using them in any demo.

    The presenter muzzled me with the gun two or three times in quick succession. I interrupted and asked him not to do that again. He reminded me the gun was verified clear. I told him I NEVER cared to have a gun pointed at me, period. He continued his demo, I got up and moved from in front of him.

    Instructor finally intervened for a brief discussion over whether I was overacting or not. Class was probably half LEO and ex military types. And came up about evenly divided on the issue. Interestingly enough the guys with seemingly the most experience were generally the least bothered by the conduct. Including the instructor. (Except for me, shooter since the 60s)

    Was going to ask for feedback from the class, but that is pointless. I don’t like it. I’ll never like it. I won’t allow it. It’s just bad practice. It flies in the face of Cooper’s 4 and the NRAs 3 rules.

    If I never point my gun at something I am not willing to destroy, I’ll never have a tragic ND.

  55. I would like to thank TTAG for their IGOTD. I can’t count the number of times I’ve found myself in the exact same setup as one of the stories and said to myself, “I remember how this story ends.” I.e. In a closet with someone that wants to show me a new gun.

    I always avoid “fondling” my gun. Fondling is any handling of the gun that is unnecessary, i.e. any handling that isn’t for the purpose of shooting, storing, dry-fire practice, or cleaning. Accept the aforementioned handling of my own CCW, I don’t touch loaded weapons, accept to unload them.

    For instance, yesterday a friend of mine removed his holstered CCW, pulled out the mag (there’s still one in the chamber:), reinserted it and re-holstered, in the middle of a office room with several other people, just to show me that he unwittingly bought a box of JHP instead of FMJ. It was kind of fast, and my attention was initially elsewhere, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he muzzled myself and 1-2 others. Words would have sufficed.

    Another instance that I called the guy on. My friend just got a nice Kimber 1911. I have little hope of ever owning one myself, and have been dreaming of handling fondling one. He took it out from his quick-access safe and his first choice in directions is at my wife. As he starts to hand it to me, I calmly asked if it was loaded (it was obviously in condition 1). He said, “yes” and I told him in a less than friendly tone that he “just shot my wife’s legs off” (figuratively, I consider it one and the same) and to put the gun back in the box before he shot someone.

  56. The guy showing off the Glock needs to get religion on gun safety before somebody gets hurt.

    I would request that he clear the gun and place it down, facing downrange. After the gun is safe and not in his hands, I would explain to him the Four Rules and how he just broke three of them. After talking to the shooter, I would find the RSO and explain to him what happened and let him make the call.

    If the shooter refused to safe the gun and place it on the table, I would go over and fetch the RSO and have him enforce the rules. It dows not pay to get into an argument with a fellow holding a gun.

  57. for myself: condition two.

    for others: I avoid people who use props in advertising their expertise. If they haven’t been in at least a dozen gunfights then to me they aren’t really experts. If they have been and are seeking attention and adulation from others, i don’t want to be around them, and besides i don’t have any to give.

  58. The only time I’ve been near an ND was in basic training. Fortunately my Kevlar and a favorable shot trajectory saved my life. By the time I woke up, the idiot responsible had already received wall to wall counseling for his actions.

    Were I in the situation you described, I think that I would have had some choice words for the guy in question, staring with “Put the F-ing gun down you moron!”

  59. The potential for disaster – a death or very serious injury – in an ND situation is obvious. The ways in which we can act to avoid such an occurrence are also well-known to most of us. But even the most experienced practitioners of any activity make errors of judgment or have lapses of attention, and sometimes those errors have tragic consequences.

    Example (based on some of what I’ve read above): How many of you, when involved in a mostly-minor auto accident caused by someone’s inattentive driving (no drunkenness, no blatant texting, no stupidity, just a little distraction and a bad call) – an accident which could have but mercifully didn’t result in loss of life or serious injury – would react by hauling the offending driver out of his car, beating hell out of him, confiscating the vehicle, banning him from driving for months, publicly ridiculing him, and then forcing him to move to a different town so the local driving community wouldn’t have to worry about him being on the road anymore?

    • Cars are mostly safe. There are painfully few minor gunshot wounds. But I get your point.

      My preferred reaction to really bad drivers would be to stop, walk up, reach in, take their keys, and throw them into the bushes. Tell them to think about what they’ve done while they look for them. Then get in my car and drive away. If it was an accident, add “fill out police report” to that list.

    • No. Wrong. Period. Gun malfunction from unseen circumstances can and does happen. As an active USPSA, IDPA, and 3 Gun participant and RO/RSO, I have seen it more than a couple times.

  60. It’s happen to me both as the shooter and the bystander. I once put a load of 7 1/2 shot into the ground next to my foot attempting to disengage an M500 so I could open the action without all the ‘bother’ of actually pressing the switch. I managed to shower everyone around with ricocheting shot, gravel, dirt ect. There were no injuries but to my pride and sense of responsibility. I cleared the action, left the chamber open, laid the gun on a bench and apologized into excess to anyone who would listen and who was fortunate enough to have hearing protection on when the ND occurred and thus could hear my entreaties. Once calm myself and having gotten the nod from everyone involved I resumed shooting. I wouldn’t have blamed a range officer for nixing my day at the range had it come to that.

    Having been a bystander on several NDs (including one that hit a junction box and left us all in the dark in a public building) I’ve yet to have it occur that the shooter wasn’t apologizing profusely and demonstrating in excess that they understood the gravity of the incident and were sufficiently self chastened so that no further action was necessary. (Incidentally when 7 armed men in a small concrete room suddenly have an unexpected shot ring out while simultaneously the lights go out the whole thing is more dicey than a Cuisinart.)
    The larger problem I’ve experienced is other sorts of unsafe behavior at the range. I’ve left them before, I’ve asked people to display more caution, I once informed a fellow that if his kid was going to keep turning back and sweeping me with a loaded pistol I was going to hold mine on him (the father) so that when his kid shot me I was in position to return the favor (they left).
    I’ve seen sworn officers ride a desk due to failing to qualify by being DQed for safety violations during qualification.
    The man who taught me most of my early tactical handling of a handgun used to stand behind us and occasionally slap someone in the side of the head for breaking various handling rules but that’s not exactly appropriate for a civilian range.

    To finally answer the question asked; Keeping in mind I’ve been a gun guy a very long time and I’m used to a leadership position I’d have had to tell the shooter to put the thing away and not bring it back out while I was around. With a contrite apology and an demonstration of safe practice I can forgive, but to pretend like it didn’t happen is unforgivable. If the shooter wouldn’t comply I’d be in the office or on the phone to the range operator ASAP.

  61. A couple of cases from my own experience.

    I was handling a friend’s gun, one I was unfamiliar with. I had an ND. However, from a lifetime of habit, the muzzle was pointed downrange. No harm, but still it was embarrassing. Now I’m even more careful about finger on trigger.

    I was at a flea market in Turkey. I saw an old “pepperbox,” a multi-barrel black powder handgun. I thought my son, a black-power enthusiast, would like it, so I picked it up. It probably hadn’t been loaded in a century. I was holding it in a safe direction while examining it, when suddenly the vendor stepped in front of me. By reflex, without even thinking, I pointed it skyward. Decades of drill on “Muzzle downrange” kicked in.

    Keeping the muzzle pointed in a safe direction is the first rule. Then a ND won’t do any harm, other than being extremely embarrassing. Keeping finger off trigger is the next rule. That way there won’t be an ND.

    I’d be reluctant to shun someone who has an ND, because it has happened to me, and I wasn’t being a show-off at the time. However, pointing out the importance of keeping the muzzle in a safe direction would be in order.

  62. Given that the circumstances will always be different I think the only SAFE action would be to THINK first then take command of the situation in any way you can.

    I’ve had ND’s happen around me 3 times in my life all at the same(only close) outdoor range in the area I used to live. All 3 times were within 2 benches of me and all 3 times I immediately cleared my weapon and went straight over to intervene in any way I could. All 3 times were completely different.

    The first was an old(ancient) man with a Mauser that “slipped” off the edge of the table while he was getting settled in. The rifle “just went off” as it was falling and showered several of us with concrete chips from the impact point INCHES FROM HIS FOOT. It scared him so much he fell out of the chair rifle in hand. I’ve owned a few Mausers so I cleared the empty and removed the bolt before I helped him up then I helped him pack his gear while he apologized profusely to everyone close(including the RSO). It was obvious that he KNEW the gravity of the situation and most of us gave him a bit of a pass that day, he had to sign a few papers inside and they let him leave without too much guff. I probably would have had a few harsher words for him if I hadn’t seen the VET hat he was wearing and the look in his eyes. He probably saw combat YEARS before I was a gleam in my dads eye but that single mistake destroyed his pride instantly, no help needed from any of us.

    The second time the offender was a smart mouthed moron who was dragged(yes dragged) off by the RSO before his mouth and attitude got him lynched by several of the regulars that walked over immediately. He apparently made a threat towards the RSO and left in cuffs. His guns left in the back of another squad car soon after. The 00 buck holes in the tin roof however stayed around a while.

    The third I’m not at all proud of. It scared the s*&t out of me, so I immediately started yelling every 4 letter word I’ve ever heard. Guy with guns takes hot gun newb girl to the range to impress….anyone see where this is going? He handed her a Ruger 10/22 LOADED out of a case while the range was COLD then turned back around to retrieve another gun case. There were people downrange hanging targets and before anyone knew what happened she was SHOOTING AT TARGETS downrange(4 or 5 rounds!). Some people scattered, some people froze, the RSO had his hand on his CC but never drew…. I was on the “safe” side of the action so I just freaked out and started yelling. The owner of the rifle grabbed the rifle, cleared it and took my ample piling on of s&*t until the RSO got there and ripped BOTH our a$$e$. The police were involved, no-one was injured(luckily!) and several of us gave a statement to the sheriffs. The RSO told me he chewed my a$$ to “regain control” of the situation before anything else happened….. For the record, I completely understand and agree with his actions in hind site though I was a bit pissed at the time. I lost my cool so he found it for me.

    The 2 things I see in common between the 3 events(all scary as hell) are that MULTIPLE rules were broken or ignored and that someone took control of the situation.

    I hear the range has gotten extremely organized over the last several years, upped the amount of staff and implemented very strict safety rules but I still won’t go back. Ignoring a potential problem that moves 1000+ f.p.s. is likely not the best way to avoid it.

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