Dennis Alexander, a teacher at Seaside High School in Seaside, California, as well as a city councilman and reserve police officer in nearby Sand City, California, made the news recently for causing a negligent discharge of his pistol in a classroom, injuring three students. Alexander was ostensibly demonstrating something related to firearm safety when the gun “went off.” It’s been reported that he was checking to see if the gun was loaded prior to demonstrating how to disarm someone.
Negligence like this is why we can’t have nice things. It also presents an opportune moment to brush up on the importance of good gun safety practices.
You probably already know Jeff Cooper’s four rules of gun safety:
- Every gun is always loaded.
- Never point a gun at something you’re not willing to destroy.
- Keep your finger off the trigger until you’re on target and ready to fire.
- Know your target and what’s beyond it.
You have to break at least two of them for something bad to happen. Perhaps this should be the fifth rule: don’t touch your gun unless you have a good reason to.
Granted, if you follow Col. Cooper’s rules fastidiously, you’ll never have a negligent/accidental/pick your adjective discharge. Still, the unofficial fifth rule bears mentioning. It’s kind of like driving; every minute you’re in a car, there’s a risk of an accident either due to driver error on your part, or on the part of others.
Similarly, the more you handle a gun, the greater the chance that something will go wrong. Murphy’s Law, after all, never takes a day off. Observing proper gun safety practices — and leaving your gat holstered until it’s actually needed — minimizes those risks.
If you read reports of some famous negligent discharge incidents over the years, one of the common threads is that someone was unnecessarily handling their gun, either to show it off or because they were carrying in an unsafe manner.
Remember this guy? The one who was the only one professional enough to handle a Glock 40?
Then there’s the case of Darryl Jouett, an off-duty officer captured on security camera shooting himself in the leg, which apparently occurred during a date night with his wife. He draws his pistol…for some reason…and tries to reholster, but fumbles it and ends up sending a round into his own leg.
Other examples abound, such as an October, 2015 incident in Kansas City, when the person carrying a gun was adjusting his it in his pocket and it “went off”, wounding him and ruining a viewing of Maze Runner: Scorch Trials.
Negligent discharges seem to be fairly common in movie theaters, as other incidents fitting the same description – fiddling with a holstered gun because they were uncomfortable – are easy to dig up. Such as one this past October, in Norwalk, Connecticut or a 2012 incident in Sonora, California. Worse still, the corrections officer in question was a grown man at a showing of “Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2.”
The takeaway: keep your hands off your gun unless you have a good reason to touch it. As a corollary to that, make sure you’re carrying in style and with a holster that’s comfortable for you. That should eliminate any desire to to fiddle with or adjust your gun while out and about. Be careful out there.