When it comes to not shooting something you don’t want to shoot, The Four Rules of Gun Safety are your friends. Master them, observe them religiously, and no one gets hurt. At least not by a negligent discharge. Ah, but there are rules for following the rules! Here are my top three . . .

1. Follow a proper handgun clearance procedure 

Some handguns have a magazine disconnect: the pistol won’t fire without a magazine on board. Some, like our old friend GLOCK, will.

You know the rule “treat all firearms as if they’re loaded”? Well, never assume that a handgun without a magazine is unloaded. 

To unload a handgun properly, remove the magazine first, then lock the slide back and visually inspect the chamber. (Some people recommend checking it with your finger as well.)

If you’re going to reinsert an empty magazine (to dry fire, store an empty gun or whatever), leave the action open.

Before inserting/re-inserting a magazine into a handgun make sure it’s empty!

I know a professional gun guy who touched off a .22 in his kitchen, burying a round in the hardwood floor, because he reinserted the wrong magazine.

Insert the magazine and check the chamber again. Then close the action.

2. PAY ATTENTION!

You know The Four Rules of Gun Safety. Of course you do. You know them so well you don’t have to think about them. Following has become automatic. There’s your trouble.

The more stimuli in your gun handling environment — the greater the number of guns, people, dogs, etc. — the greater the danger that you’ll lose track of what you’re doing.

You don’t necessarily need a sterilized environment to handle a gun, but you must pay attention to what you’re doing, to the complete and total exclusion of everything else.

By the same token, if you’re doing two or three things at once, like, say, eating while you handle, or dealing with child care, bad things can happen.

Slow down! The gentleman above may have avoided his negligent discharge if he’d slowed down and paid attention to what he was doing. Don’t be that guy.

3. Trust no one!

Again, you can file this one under “treat all guns as if they’re loaded.” But it’s worth emphasizing: people can f*ck you up, ballistically speaking. In all sorts of ways.

They’ll tell you a loaded gun is unloaded. They’ll “return” a loaded magazine when you handed them an empty one. They’ll hand you a different gun than the one you handed them (maybe even the same model).

They’ll load your gun when you’re not looking. They’ll distract you. They’ll tell you to dry fire a loaded gun. They’ll “dry fire” a loaded gun.

Yes, there is that. Not only are you responsible for your safe gun handling, you’re responsible for everyone else’s gun handling. After all, someone else’s negligent discharge can kill you just as dead as your own.

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Gun safety is no accident. Make sure your environment — mental and physical — is conducive to safe gun handling. If it isn’t, don’t.

28 Responses to 3 Ways To Avoid A Negligent Discharge

  1. The ‘trust no one’ idea is important. Story around the workplace: guy is practicing his dry-fire with a revolver with no one around. A-okay. Then he goes to the bathroom. Roommate comes in and, for reasons never completely explained to me, LOADS the first guy’s revolver. Guy comes out of the bathroom, goes to dry-fire again and… well, we can all guess.

    Of course, with stories like this you always have to wonder if it was concocted to cover something even stupider.

  2. “Drop the mag, and pull the slide. Take a look and feel inside”.
    One of you geniuses out there wrote that. I’ll use it on occasion with my customers. Always gets a smile.

        • Dry firing any firearm without making absolutely sure there is no live round chambered and preferably in the firearm at all is a very very bad habit . Do not go gangsta and you will keep all your body parts and those around you a whole lot longer . Dry firing is not such a good thing , practice trigger time with ammo and stop playing . I have had more times than I can tell you , sales people hand me a gun and say ‘ try that trigger ‘ , and I’ll politely ask them to make it safe first and even then , after they do , I’ll check it again . Look before crossing the street .

    • Video resolution is s bit rough, but looks to me like everytime he picks up a weapon, that’s the first thing he does – Puts his finger the trigger.

      Dumb ass.

    • I own a Henry Big Boy chambered in 357/38S and once you have lever chambered a round , believe me when I say you do not want to touch the trigger until you have acquired your target unless you are wanting one of those nasty negligent discharges . There are many firearms in my safes that don’t allow you the security of a DA revolver . I have a Savage trigger on one of my 30.06 rifles that will go bang almost at the thought but it’s perfectly safe until you TOUCH THE TRIGGER . Point , acquire target , then touch trigger ………….. bang .

  3. I watched the video with the sound off.

    I see at about 0:30 he opens the shotgun to make sure it’s empty. But he only opens it far enough to see the top chamber. Then he pulls the trigger.

    When you’re that careless, it’s really only a matter of time.

  4. The rule I follow as if it was the word of God Himself is that if the gun has been out of my control at any point in time I assume it to be loaded when it comes into/returns to my possession.

    If I place a gun on a table in front of me and no one else touches it I know it’s condition. It’s the way I left it there, loaded, unloaded or whatever. I put it there in that condition for a reason.

    Generally speaking if I do this with a semi-auto I lock the slide back and with a wheel gun I pop out the cylinder or leave the loading gate open. That’s kind of just a mental note to me. However, if someone else touches the gun, or I leave the room, or even just turn my back on the gun while doing something else where I could be distracted and not notice a sneaky bullet creeping into the chamber or those damn elves moving a loaded magazine into the gun then, when I return I assume it to be loaded and go through the procedure to unload/check if it’s unloaded again. Leaving the gun locked back/open makes this easier which is why I generally do that.

    Now, the exception to leaving the gun locked open or whatever is if I’m cleaning a bunch of firearms. I don’t just sit in my house with a dozen guns in front of me for cleaning without having one loaded and sometimes it’s my EDC that’s part of the group getting cleaned so my holster is empty. In that case I’ll pick another handgun, have it fully loaded and ready to go and I’ll lay that gun out on the table with the slide forward/cylinder closed. Again, the closed action is a note to me: that gun is ready to go if I need it to be. All the empty guns awaiting disassembly will be open.

    Really I think #2 is the big one. Know what you’re doing and pay attention to not just what you’re doing but what other people are doing as well.

  5. I believe in the ammunition elves. If I ever let a firearm out of my hand, the elves will load it. That ammunition will disappear when I check for it but if I do not check it wll be there ready to fire.

    Many laugh at me and my “ammunition elves”. I do not care. I check and clear any firearm before I set it down and again when I pick it up. No exceptions!. The elves have not gotten me yet.

    • I think the elves around my place look more like the gremlin from that movie “Cat’s Eye”. They haven’t touched my ammo yet, but it appears everything else is free game.

  6. I’ve seen far too many close calls and actual NDs over the years, at ranges both public & private, shows & shops, downrange & in people’s houses. And that’s why I don’t do ranges, shows, or hang around people who like to handle/show off their iron in public…. especially if there’s been drinking going on. After a few beers and I hear someone say “Hey! Wanna see my new pistol??”, is when I make myself scarce.

    Personally, I use the “Drop the mag, and pull the slide; take a look and feel inside” method without fail (I feel OCD-weird if I don’t); I also set them down & leave the actions open whenever I’m at a pause in firing/cleaning/etc, and always step back from the table to load mags or anything else. Finally, I rod my rifles off the range…. so basically I run things like my BCT instructors did. And on the rare occasion a friend visits to do some shooting, they know the rules; and that I won’t hesitate to shut things down if I catch em slipping. They don’t take it personal, and the ones who did don’t come around anymore.

  7. It was because of a Negligent Discharge (years before I started competing there) that my range has a rule you do NOT leave the firing point until you have been cleared TWICE.

    The person who NDed and the person who cleared them were given a six month suspension from the range. Neither have ever returned.

  8. A gun store/range I used to go to was too cavalier with people taking out their guns and showing others *in the store* part of the building.

    While I *know* what MY safety practices & training are, I don’t know these other people and how they go about handling their firearms.

    That changed when they were having an IPSC(?) event there. An off duty COP was showing his gun off to someone and *BOOM* – hole in a chair/the floor LUCKILY.

    Cop was actually upset when they wouldn’t refund his entry fee. Ummm how about I CALL **YOUR** boss and talk about how you DON’T SAFELY HANDLE GUNS…. (as I understand it, they did say that to him and he left)

  9. You guys are hilarious.

    Guy tells me the gun is empty, I know the guy, I believe him.
    If I need to know if the gun is unloaded for a reason, I check it.

    Its not really much more complicated than that. I dont believe in bullet fairies, Quantum Physics loading techniques, etc.

  10. Lhstr, I have all my handguns loaded. Rifles are always unloaded. When I hand some one a weapon reguardless which one I hand out, I always open it up and show that it is empty and I put mag. in my back pocket. When he or she hands it back I always ask them to present the weapon to me the same way I presented to them period. We all know unloaded guns are the ones that kill ya. Be safe out there and watch your six.
    p.s. I have no children in my house nor guests with children.

    • My handguns are all loaded, and I assume my rifles are as well.

      I prefer to check for clear and set the gun down on a table w/ muzzle in a safe direction. Makes it less likely that someone will put his finger inside the trigger guard and muzzle me.

      • That works to, always safety first. My son in law mixed booze while camping and got careless and my daughter lost him because of carelessness. These weapons are weapons of death, but they are savers tooooo.

  11. When returning from the range, and all other times, we use two person integrity for all weapons.
    We take all weapons outside on the deck and one at a time clear each weapon.

    Remove magazine. Lock open slide.
    Visually check and verbally say: Mag clear, breech clear, chamber clear. Hand to second person.
    Visually check and verbally say: Mag clear, breech clear, chamber clear. Close slide and fire weapon aimed at sand bucket and then lock open slide. Second person, “This weapon is clear”. First person, “This weapon is clear”. The cleared weapons are then placed on the kitchen table for cleaning. No ammunition is allowed inside until cleaning is completed on all weapons and they are being reloaded for storage/use. This is our ritual and it is followed to the letter every single time.

  12. “After all, someone else’s negligent discharge can kill you just as dead as your own.”

    This is why teaching kids real gun safety is super important. Keeping them forced into ignorance won’t save them from someone else’s kids. Or someone else leaving a gun out. We should prepare them for anything instead of pretending bad things don’t exist.

    I need to do so much better at that.

  13. When I was a teenager I was driving a Honda XL185 dirt bike with a friend on the back when there was an explosion and sparks hit my face. So I thought the engine had exploded and hit the brakes and stopped but the bike was idling fine. I was confused and looking at the engine when my dads Ruger super single six fell off​ of my lap into the dirt. I then realize what had happened I had loaded all six Chambers and stuck the gun into the holster which the retention strap was broken in the inside pocket of my jacket and the gun must have vibrated out with the bumps and fell out and hit the gas tank almost shooting me in the head. I’ve never carried it again with all six Chambers loaded.

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