John Farnham writes:

Ft Collins, CO –-(Ammoland.com)- An armed civilian in his 20s, on volunteer guard duty, unintentionally fired a shot from his AR in OH. Unnecessary Gun-Handling. Fortunately, the muzzle was pointed downward at the time, and the single errant bullet hit the pavement. It made a divot, but caused no additional damage nor injuries. The incident took place outside a military recruiting center. Someone apparently had asked to look at his AR. The voluntary guard, while attempting to comply with the person’s request, was in the process of “unloading” his rifle when the negligent discharge (ND) occurred . . .

Openly armed citizens started showing up at this and other military recruiting centers, acting as voluntary armed guards, in the wake of last week’s massacre of unarmed USMC and USN personnel at another recruitment center in Chattanooga, TN.

The Pentagon’s “solution” to such recurring massacres of unarmed troops is to strip them of their uniforms and tell them to “pull the shades.” I only wish they weren’t so predictable!

The voluntary guard in this case will face misdemeanor charges.

Last week, a USN recruiter in Atlanta was responsible for a similar ND, this time with a personally owned 1911 pistol. He was in the middle of a “safety lecture,” displaying to another sailor his “unloaded gun.” As he reholstered, he shot himself in the leg! His physical injuries, at least, were not serious. We understand the remainder of the “safety lecture” has been postponed indefinitely!

The foregoing are two examples are why we teach our students not to handle guns unnecessarily, regardless of their supposed “condition.” When armed, we don’t “show” our gun(s), no matter their ostensible “condition,” to other people, particularly for trivial reasons. In addition, we don’t discuss our gun(s), their ostensible condition, nor related subjects, with people who don’t need to know. Concealed guns stay concealed, out of sight and out of conversation.

In the former case, the correct response to casual questions about an openly carried rifle, is:

“I’m sorry sir. I can’t help you. Please stay back.” In the latter case, had the pistol in question simply remained in its holster and not touched, nor discussed, there would have been no incident, of any kind, and the media would have had nothing to talk about!

Our military’s love-affair with never-ending gun-handling, the vast majority of it serving no legitimate purpose, generates NDs on a regular basis. These unnecessary and unsafe procedures are a direct result of:

(1) A universal, morbid fear of guns throughout our military services
(2) A universal fear and distrust among military personnel of each other
(3) The common knowledge that small-arms training within our military is outdated, inadequate, and hopelessly parochial!
Personnel thus “trained” may know something about how a gun operates, but won’t have a clue with regard to how to live with one on a continual basis, nor how to actually integrate it, boldly and fearlessly, into his daily, personal security routine.

Instead, we run sterile, boring, cold ranges, even then only rarely. All the time, troops (all ranks) are told they can’t be trusted with guns. Guns, even in active combat zones, are only rarely loaded (at least intentionally), endlessly “unloaded,” and almost never carried in so-called “safe” areas (which are arbitrarily declared in an effort to disarm troops).

The result of our current philosophy:

(1) Massacres of our unarmed troops, on a continual basis, both overseas and within CONUS.
(2) Nonstop NDs, invariably involving “unloaded” guns in the hands of inadequately/incorrectly trained troops.
(3) Vain, self-absorbed politicians, in and out of uniform, who stubbornly insist that nothing change.

“When you don’t know where you’re going, any path will take you there!” ~ Anon

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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

51 Responses to Guns for Beginners: Eliminate Unnecessary Gun-Handling

  1. I’ve also been told that, no matter how bad a driver you are, you can’t crash your car if you never drive it – but you won’t get anywhere either.

    While I agree in spirit with the safety precaution of minimizing unnecessary handling, each such handling is an opportunity to practice, and internalize safe-handling procedures, and possibly educating others.

    • There’s a right time and right place for practice. Standing guard, in public, outside a recruiting station, under a national media spotlight, is neither.

      • I don’t disagree with you. But i submit that if you cannot safely handle your firearm, you probably shouldn’t be guarding anything.

        • That’s fair. No disagreement here on that point. If anything, I’ll go further in agreement and say that if he was really just there to show support, express defiance, what have you, then actual ammunition was probably superfluous.

          Of course, I’m not a fan of bluffing as a go-to tactic for self-defense (though it may well have its place), but if the primary purpose of this guy’s presence at the recruiting station was just to make a solidarity statement, then it’s not a serious defensive situation anyway and, you’re right, he shouldn’t have been there at all, and certainly not with live ammunition.

    • If you always follow the fours Laws, you’ll never have a problem. Seems many forget that or are too stupid to follow them in the first place.

  2. If you are actively guarding or carrying for self defense why on earth would you willingly disarm (unload) simply for a show and tell? Better to do your show and tell with an entirely different firearm than the one you have already ready. And better yet to be in a safe environment like a range where you can be sure of a safe direction.

    • Because as a mall ninja (or should that be strip mall ninja), he wasn’t serious about being there to guard the facility. He was out there to make a political point and be seen in public with his rifle.

      • Before this recruiting station ND, that Ohio jackwagon had a prior ND resuting in another misdemeanor charge, too.

        Apparently, not only can stupid not be fixed, it’s pretty tough even to treat.

    • The guy went from 0 to 9000 in half a second. His hyperbole is pretty hilarious and makes me wonder if he ever spent time in any branch of service.

  3. My “firearms training” in the USAF was pretty much non-existent.
    We fired the early 22LR M16 conversions at basic training. This was quite some time for rifles like the M&P15-22 were available as a production quality rifle.
    Jams were frequent.
    Nothing about firearms for another 3 years until I had to ‘qualify’ again. Sit in a classroom. Range rules for a couple hours. Then fire 100 rounds of 223. The guy next to me shot my target too so I got a ‘marksman’ ribbon that I never wore.
    The only people in the USAF that regularly handled firearms were LE, SP, and Para rescue units.

    • Compare that to my training as a POG in the Marine Corps. I lived, slept, ate, and shit with my rifle for several years. If I wasn’t actively working on trucks, I had my rifle on me. Even then, I still had my rifle on me many of the times I worked on trucks when out in the sandbox. Working with rifles is second nature to me.
      In garrison, we had yearly qualifications, monthly trips to the field, and weekly interactions with rifles and machine guns. The Marine Corps I served in was a Marine Corps that had been embroiled in war for nearly 10 years with no end in sight, and acted as such. The only thing I didn’t get regular exposure to was the M9. I got to qualify with it once, and the privilege of cleaning our officers and warrant officers M9s after trips to the field. Thankfully, when I got out, I took a job for two years as armed security at a place that encouraged the use of our firearms to include monthly laser ranges and biweekly live fire ranges. I got pretty used to handguns as a result.
      Maybe some members of the military haven’t had the same opportunity as I did, but NDs were not a thing that “happened.” Firearms are familiar, respected, and trusted. We didn’t have a fear of them, we trusted each other with our lives, and I think the training we got was solid enough to get there, do our mission, and bring everyone home. If that isn’t enough, I don’t know what is.

  4. I’ll never stop dressing in costume and twirling my rifle like a baton and high stepping. NEVER! It’s just too useful a skill to let degrade.

  5. I abide by rule #5. If you carry a gun it should remain holstered until you are going to fire it or secure. No show and tell.

      • @Don–If a gun is always holstered that could lead to the third greatest threat to a firearm, which is rust. The greatest threat to firearms is the ignorant and comfortable cowards followed by the politicians they elect and re-elect.

        • Uhhmerica – Most of my guns that live in holsters are Glocks. I’ve never had an issue with rust. Even in leather holsters.

      • For a safetyless pistol like a Glock keeping it in the holster adds a needed layer of protection. I store my Nano in a holster when I am carrying it frequently. For a pistol with a real safety it is superfluous. You can handle a Springfield or 1911 without depressing the grip safety. The only issue I have with the Springfield system is that you have to release the grip safety when you chamber a round or clear it. This is where many if not most NDs occur. You can rack a 1911 without releasing the grip safety. With two safeties it takes a “special effort” to have an ND.

        • It says in the article above that one of the NDs was with a 1911. He must have been putting forth some of that “special effort!”

        • And that is why I used the phrase. You gotta extra dumb to shoot yourself with gun that has two safeties

    • +1 to tdiinva

      Keeping your handgun in its holster, as an official rule, would eliminate negligent discharges and should appeal to opponents of carry in “sensitive locations” like schools.

      I would be willing to accept an actual law as such in exchange for unfettered carry in schools.

      Unless you are unholstering to address a deadly threat, your self-defense handgun (whether carried openly or concealed) should remain in its holster in public locations.

  6. I’m a fan of condition 3 (chamber empty). Its benefits far outweigh its risks in many situations. Standing “guard” in a strip mall waiting for a terrorist to attack a recruiting station would be one example where condition 3 makes a lot of sense.

    • +1 Chamber empty makes a lot of sense in the right situations. Its how I carry my XDs.

      If the act of chambering a round, is the difference between winning and losing a fight, other elements of your operational plan have probably failed.

      Be sure though that if you carry empty chamber you put in the practice on the range to work through that condition

    • “I’m a fan of condition 3 (chamber empty)”

      If you have fast hands and know you are about to be attacked that is a good plan. In condition 3 you have to make a diversion, in order to get your hammer transformed into a loaded firearm. If you can’t trust yourself not to be responsible enough to not negligently pull your weapons trigger, then maybe that person is not who I want carrying a gun around. Thankfully the 2nd Amendment is based in Constitutional Law and not based upon others emotional feelings.

      “Its benefits far outweigh its risks in many situations.”

      I pay a fee for the government privilege of carrying concealed pistols not hammers. When seconds count I would rather use the muscle memory from training to shoot accurately and quickly, instead of wasting precious moments getting a weapon battle ready after combat has already been forced upon me.

      The Negligent discharges are by people who haven’t taken the time to responsibly bear arms. A guard does not surrender his weapon but a peacock would, and did in this case.

      • +1
        Racking the slide may seem like it wouldn’t take that long, but it really could be the difference between life and death. Additionally, I have caused my gun to jamb before while racking the slide to chamber that first round. That would suck to have to rack the slide, AND clear my weapon before I could pull the trigger for my first shot.

        If you have a well-made handgun from a reputable company, and you follow the four safety rules, and keep your gun in it’s holster unless you’re using it against a deadly threat, then you will not have a negligent discharge.

      • “If you can’t trust yourself not to be responsible enough to not negligently pull your weapons trigger, then maybe that person is not who I want carrying a gun around.”

        I’ll bet dollars to donuts both of the men who popped off rounds while guarding the recruiting stations had never had a negligent discharge before and had every bit the confidence in their gun-handling that you have in yours. Carrying and storing a firearm with a round chambered increases the risk that a bullet will go someplace the shooter doesn’t want it to go versus carrying and storing without a round chambered. Sometimes it makes sense to run this increased risk. Sometimes it does not. Reminds me of an old Emerson quote . . .

        • “A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is braver five minutes longer.” That is a quote I prefer from Emerson.

          “I’ll bet dollars to donuts both of the men who popped off rounds while guarding the recruiting stations had never had a negligent discharge before and had every bit the confidence in their gun-handling that you have in yours. ”

          If I had any luck other than bad I would take your bet. It was one of the peacocks second negligent discharge. The real patriots were concealed and they were discretely guarding the American servicemen and women.

          “Carrying and storing a firearm with a round chambered increases the risk that a bullet will go someplace the shooter doesn’t want it to go versus carrying and storing without a round chambered.”

          It is called gun control brother. I carry multiple firearms as tools of my trade, and they are all secondary weapons to my mind.

    • I had an instructor tell me once, that if you are carrying your personal defense gun in condition three, you have a “handS” gun not a “hand” gun, because it takes two hands to make it ready. The example used was if you are fending off an attacker with one arm, you can still draw and fire with the other hand.
      I also like rule 5, “Don’t remove it from the holster unless you are going to use it or store it.” And the corollary is pretty good, too: “Don’t talk about the fact that you carry (or ARE carrying) with others.” My kids also know not to tell their friends or anyone else about the fact that I carry.

  7. I hammer this into my students during class.

    The example I give is that at the end of the day, when I take off my carry gun, I remove the holster from my body and never actually touch the gun. Untouched, holstered guns don’t go off.

    Yes, I know that if I practice safe gun handling practices, the gun also won’t go off. But why bother even inviting the opportunity?

    The other reason is that while my wife and I know to treat any gun as loaded, if its in a holster we can COUNT ON IT being loaded.

    Don

    • If I followed that approach, the moment I needed my gun it wouldn’t work, after a few days’ carry.

      This is to point out that your treatment of your carry gun is highly dependent on where you live and work and what you do. My basic handgun training instructor emphasized this to us, and it makes far more sense than the “Neglect it religiously” approach you describe. My first hunter safety instructor, a former Marine instructor with an entire wall of awards for sharpshooting and more, pounded into our heads that if you haven’t emptied it, cleaned it, oiled and reassembled it in the last day, you have no reason to be confident it’s even going to fire — unless, as he put it, you live and work in a clean room where nothing at all can possibly affect your gun.

      What I see advocated here is a method of inviting the attention of the demon Murphy: what you aren’t familiar with, you’re more likely to make a mistake with, and what you neglect, you’ll never know if it stills works.

    • “Yes, I know that if I practice safe gun handling practices, the gun also won’t go off. But why bother even inviting the opportunity?”

      A new gun owner could mentally associate your words to mean “if the instructor thinks guns are too dangerous to unholster and handle, then how am I going to successfully use a gun in self defense. I know the weight of mu gun loaded, unloaded, and I can tell how many rounds are in the mag by the weight. I know this by being comfortable with my defensive tool.

      “The other reason is that while my wife and I know to treat any gun as loaded, if its in a holster we can COUNT ON IT being loaded”

      The old saying about assumptions being the mother of a mistakes comes to mind. A person treats an unknown gun to be loaded, until they physically expect the gun to make sure. When a gun is known to be unloaded it is just a hammer, and sometimes is treated as such. When road hunting birds there is a shotgun pointed at my head or chest while I’m driving, but there is nothing in the chamber. My gun isn’t capable of functioning as a firearm until the dog jumps out of my door and I’m bailing out racking a round into the chamber.

      • This is moronic. Having a shotgun pointed at your head or chest whether or not you think you know it doesn’t have a shell in the chamber. You’re willfully admitting to violating one of the most important gun rules. You’re creating bad habits by not practicing safe gun handling 100% of the time. What happens if you get distracted at one moment and forget that the chamber does have a round in it? You go to grab the gun and your hand accidentally slips and hits the trigger when grabbing, or your dog bumps into your hand as you attempt to grasp the gun, but instead you grasp the trigger. You’ll be dead, and probably get the irresponsible gun owner award here.

        • “This is moronic. Having a shotgun pointed at your head or chest whether or not you think you know it doesn’t have a shell in the chamber. ”

          Please don’t be a range Nazi. I am not an FNG and a paper weight can’t discharge a round into my cranium. It is a common practice for road hunting and I have no issue having a paper weight aimed at my head. The only way the paper weight could kill me is by impaling me.

          “You’re willfully admitting to violating one of the most important gun rules. You’re creating bad habits by not practicing safe gun handling 100% of the time.”

          I handle firearms safely but I am not concerned about a paper weight harming me. When I have a loaded firearm then it is back to the 4 rules.

          “What happens if you get distracted at one moment and forget that the chamber does have a round in it?”

          If I don’t have the cognitive ability to know when my gun is loaded and when it is a paperweight, in that moment safe handling of a firearm is the least of my worries.

  8. I do believe that it was mostly in “gun free zones” in Afghanistan that Taliban acting as Afghan soldiers commonly massacred Americans and real Afghan soldiers. Yet, they still want soldiers disarmed unless engaged in full battle and American citizens disarmed in any public place they go. They will never learn and I’m tired of telling them.

  9. “Last week, a USN recruiter in Atlanta was responsible for a similar ND, this time with a personally owned 1911 pistol. He was in the middle of a “safety lecture,” displaying to another sailor his “unloaded gun.” As he reholstered, he shot himself in the leg!”

    “But but but grip safety like my XD!? That prevents NDs on holstering!”
    “The thumb safety is second nature. I won’t own a GLOCK or any gun without a thumb safety”.
    “I bet it was a GLO…what? A 1911?, Well, that guy was an idiot.”
    “[Your safety is between your ears] is not a safety!”

    Hey GLOCK haters! Did I leave anything out?

    • If it was a Glock, the shot would have gone through the floor and killed five people below, after the gun was carried undetected past the metal detectors at the airport.

    • I use to be a Glock hater, but now I carry one every day. I don’t really like the Glock trigger. I really like to shoot 1911s and Springfield XD_, but you cannot beat the Glock as a CCW. It’s light weight, concealable, high capacity, and easy to deploy under pressure. Glocks are just great CQB, self defense hand guns … no question about it.

  10. So we have an article here that is half lecture for new gun owners about unnecessary gun handling, and half diatribe about ill-conceived military policies, without so much as a clumsy segue between the two parts.

    Geez, man. Pick a topic and write something useful about it.

    • I agree. It reminded me of essays I would get when I was teaching remedial reading comprehension and basic writing for college freshmen, where it was plain the student had run out of things to say and realized that another couple hundred words were required, so he or she latched onto the first hopefully related thing that came to mind and proceeded to address it in order to pad the essay.

      It would have been far more useful to examine environments where exposure to them would urge at the minimum an examination of your gun at the end of the day, if not a basic cleaning. Crap, just hunting rabbits in west Colorado rimrock canyons for an afternoon is enough to make disassembly and cleaning a very, very good idea; the opportunity for grit and other unwanted material to get into even a holstered gun was too high to ignore.

  11. As we taught our girls around the age of three (and as my parents similarly admonished me): Want to see something? We look with our eyes , not with our hands .

  12. Never loan out the things that you use to make your living. I learned that wrenching on cars and it still applies now that I’m an IT guy.

    If you are standing a guard post with your weapon don’t loan your weapon to anyone.

    • No argument here, but the dude couldn’t even unload the rifle without it going “bang.” He needed more training and weapon familiarity before he appointed himself to guard anyone.

  13. Keep your triggers close… and your trigger fingers closer! oops! BANG! ouch!
    I always *prefer* to unload my weapon through the muzzle at a target down range, but I understand there is a safe way to do it without contacting any primers and firing pins at speed.

  14. I definitely agree with being afraid of other service members. I remember in boot camp watching other recruits in my division practice their quick draws with their M9s – they were blank firing versions only, but still loaded with blanks. Then there was the time I stood watch with another guy who decided he wanted to unload his spare magazines and count his bullets – after that point I stopped watching the gate and started watching him.

  15. I heatd the French army removed safety catches off their rifles and made a Negligent Discharge a court martial offence of attempted murder. The result? NDs dropped to almost zero.

    I would trust a civilian competitive target shooter before many grunts and cops on safe firearm handling practices. Fudds on the other hand are another matter.

  16. Well I don’t know what the hell this guy is talking about. I’m down range right now and the time you have a weapon is “always (unless you don’t want one during PT, which is understandable),” the time you have a mag in is “always,” and the time you go red is “when shit goes down.” Not that bad considering everyone is armed all the time.

    ‘Cept the Afghans and (very few) certain contractors. For obvious reasons.

    We have lots of “no bag zones” though. Hard to counter bombs with firearms.

    Hasn’t been an ND in a hot minute. I’ve heard them talked about, but that’s it.

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