Simunitions training, neat and tidy (courtesy courierpress.com)

A wise man once told me “you are you own worst enemy.” In which way does that pronouncement not suck? It doesn’t mean my enemies aren’t terrible; it just means I’m a greater threat to myself than they are. How great is that? Not so great. Add firearms to the mix there are lots of ways I could claim the ultimate victory over my ultimate enemy. You know; by inadvertently taking myself out of the picture. To avoid that fate, I’m a safety Nazi [sic]. I clear and safe guns like an OCD sufferer checking the gas stove before leaving the house (if, indeed, they can). OK, it’s not that bad. But the Four Rules are a code that I must live by. The One Rule to Rule Them All: always point the gun in a safe direction. [NB: pointing it at a bad guy is a safe direction.] Here’s how that can go wrong . . .

Lassiter Basket bought his .22-caliber handgun in 1963 and in recent years has fired it just twice a year — on New Year’s Eve and the Fourth of July. He says he uses blanks for safety and shoots in the privacy of his Forest Park row house.

“Other people fire firecrackers,” the white-haired 82-year-old said. “It’s just a noisemaker.”

You know where this one’s going. There’s a whole ‘nother discussion here about protecting yourself from people who don’t always point a firearm in a safe direction. And another one about when and how and whether to remove Dad’s or Grandpa’s access to guns.

But let’s leave that for another day and follow this one to its logical conclusion via baltimoresun.com:

He said he had walked out of his bedroom on the second floor, pointed the handgun down the hall and pulled the trigger, confident he had loaded it with blanks he keeps in a purple cloth bag that once held a bottle of Crown Royal whiskey. He said he keeps his real ammunition separate, in a Remington box.

To his surprise, the bullet wasn’t harmless.

“She said, ‘Granddad, I’m hit,’ and I said, ‘You can’t be,’ ” Basket said.

Doctors tended to Holley’s wounds and X-rayed her wrists but found no life-threatening injuries. Holley sat on the front porch of her house Friday with gauze bandages around both wrists, which were resting in her lap over pink Snoopy pajama pants.

“I wasn’t surprised when it happened, but I was surprised when I saw the blood,” Holley said. “I’m glad it’s all right.”

Keeping blank ammo in the same universe with real ammo is a bit of a problem. Make that a “challenge”; the challenge being to examine each and every bullet before you load it into the gun. Because the safe thing to do is to assume that a bullet is a live round until proven otherwise. And maybe even then.

If eyesight is an issue, it’s probably a good idea to forget the whole thing, celebratory gunfire-wise. In fact, a firecracker beats a gun for that sort of thing ten times out of ten. But that’s not my point. I’m simply pointing out that insanely rigid safety protocols—storage, cleaning, labeling, transporting, manipulating, slavishly following the Four Rules, etc.—aren’t so insane.

In fact, obsessively eyeballing other people’s safety habits isn’t a bad idea either. I once saw an ex-military trainer take out a full magazine of hollow points from his Glock carry piece and lay it on a table littered with both boxed and loose Simunitions cartridges [not shown]. So I guess I’m not always my own worst enemy. Then again, I was paying him for training.

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23 Responses to Self-Defense Tip: Be OCD on Safety

  1. “Keep your finger off the trigger till your sights are on the target. This is the Golden Rule.”

    Jeff Cooper

  2. completely off topic. But I found actual 9mm ammo at my LGS yesterday. First I’ve bought in months. Maybe the worst is over?

  3. About 5 years ago my National Guard Brigade was training up for a deployment down at Ft Bragg. One of the units going through a CQC or urban ops range had this happen. It was one of those ranges conducted in a typical crawl, walk, run progression. Soldiers would start by practicing dry fire, then move on to blank fire, and finally to live fire. If I remember correctly one of the blank magazines issued to a soldier from the ammo point had at least one live round in it. The soldier was firing at a target when the live round went off, destroying the blank fire adapter in the process. I can’t remember if he or any others were injured, but needless to say the SHTF. The brigade shut down all ranges for the rest of that day. The LT who was in charge of the ammo point was reprimanded. And memos and briefings ensued. I believe the investigation said that there was inadequate separation of live and blank ammo with soldiers at the ammo point loading magazines with live rounds while others were loading blank. Which resulted in at least one live round getting mixed in.

    • “…. the investigation said that there was inadequate separation of live and blank ammo with soldiers at the ammo point loading magazines… dreamed up a lame excuse to cover for the field grade commissioned ass-hat who thought training with blanks and live rounds on the same range and day made sense.

      Fixed it!

  4. RE the trainer mixing live rounds and Simmunition, I was under the impression that a Simmunitions firearm would not chamber a live round (chamber/throat dimension or some such). Is that incorrect?

    • I don’t know what they run now but until recently you got the real deal M-16 with a bright red blank adapter over the flash suppressor. You could put the real deal 5.56 up in that mag but if you did that 16 was going to get ruined and you would probably get hurt in the process.

      • The BFA is only used with conventional blank ammunition. Simunition uses a specially adapted bolt to fire a paint marking or blank round.

  5. I cringed reading that. Bringing live ammo to a simuniton shoot. That should never be allowed!
    I’ve been to a couple of funerals where there was only supposed to be sim or blank ammo.
    We always had at least 3 pat down checks of each other during sim shoots.

  6. Can I just say — “celebratory gunfire” is one of the most stupid-ass things anyone can ever do! For the love of all that is holy, STOP IT with the stupid, idiotic, moronic, dangerous, and pathetically ridiculous practice of “celebratory gunfire”.

    Thank you. You can now return to your regularly scheduled programming.

  7. The last couple of days I’ve been able to buy 9mm and .45 jhp at my local wally world. 3 boxes per day for 2 days in a row. Kinda thought I’d hit the jackpot.

      • Here in Cleveland, big ol’ cans of .22LR for $115 have turned up (1,000 rounds). CCI stuff.

        The end of the shortage is nigh.

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