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Alaska Department of Fish and Game (courtesy

“Alaska State Troopers say a 43-year-old state Department of Fish and Game worker sustained minor injuries after a coworker’s shotgun unexpectedly discharged while they were out in the field,” reports. Nobody expects the unexpected! But responsible journalists should be expected not to perpetuate the bizarre notion that shotguns discharge on their own (by deploying the passive voice).

Like any gun, a shotgun has to be loaded, the safety disengaged and the trigger pressed to discharge. And at least until SkyNet goes live, that requires some form of human intervention. Not that you’d know that from the headline — Troopers: Worker hurt after coworker’s shotgun discharges.

Troopers say John “Chris” Ford of Petersburg was treated and released following the Aug. 17 incident in the Stikine River drainage in southeast Alaska.

Troopers say their investigation continues, adding that no foul play is suspected. According to troopers, three Fish and Game employees were working in the area when the shotgun discharged.

Fish and Game spokesman Ken Marsh says the agency routinely issues shotguns to employees for bear protection.

How are bears protected by irresponsible Fish and Game officers wielding shotguns? From who are the officers protecting the bears? And why not name and shame the officer who blasted his two-legged cohort for the negligent discharge? Because guns!

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    • Our chief weapon is Fear, and surprise!

      Sometimes they report the weapon went off and when they do, I always wonder where it went, and if it shot the unfortunate person on the way out, or on the way back. So many wayward firearms!

      • I blame the Glocks. Bad influences, the lot of them, on good all-metal guns…. grumble chew grumble…

        Hey, you! Get your bullpup off my lawn!

    • So, that gun hauled off and shot the poor guy. Malicious, untrustworthy thing! Did he badmouth or harass that shotgun beforehand? Be kind to your firearms. You’ll be glad you did.
      In automotive parlance, it was probably caused by a loose nut behind the wheel.

    • RF, I got the joke, but my question is, if they are carrying shotguns for protection FROM bears, what kind of loads are they carrying? It would seem to me that a shotgun loaded for bear should do some serious damage to a Fish & Game officer.

      Double 00 buck for bear? I would think a nice slug makes more sense. Seems like the recipient of this ND is a very lucky fellow, if you discount the fact that he was shot at all.

      • There are specialty loads designed to scare a bear off for the 12 ga. I can picture a shotgun with a mix of non lethal and lethal loads for this job.

        Maybe he got shot with a non lethal.

  1. I am watching my Benelli very carefully to see if it u n expectedly fires on its own. This is getting boring.

  2. Have you seen some of the Alaskan men? Wouldnt be surprised if he walked out of the tree line/tall grass and got mistaken for a bear. . /sarc

  3. Yeah, if this was just some random rag picker, the news would have a photo, first, middle and last name, age and what city he or she lives in.
    .gov? Nope.

    • It decided to identify as the world’s greatest bolt action rifle. But all great things have their problems.

  4. If he didn’t “expect” it to shoot when he pulled the trigger, maybe it was a Kel-Tec. <zing>

  5. Late at night, I can hear the tumbler turning from the inside of the gun safe! I’ve started putting the couch against the safe door. I’m scared, any ideas?

      • No, they are pretty quiet, which makes me more suspicious. My wife is really concerned, sometimes when I open the safe she swears there is another gun in there. I don’t know how that happens.

  6. Grammar Nazi here. “The shotgun discharged” is active voice. Of course it also means that the shotgun was capable of discharging itself without outside intervention — it released its safety, chambered itself, and pulled its own trigger. Correct passive voice would be: the shotgun was discharged (by the negligent handler). Correct active voice would be: the negligent handler discharged the shotgun. Mom was an English teacher. I can’t help myself. This active-passive voice used by journalists is worse than B- grammar. It conditions readers to believe that guns can “discharge themselves” as if by magic.

    • ProTip: If you can add “by zombies!’ to the end of the sentence, it is passive voice. “Mistakes were made by zombies!” is a standard .gov statement.

  7. Contrary to what most folks think, there ARE guns that WILL ‘go off’ by themselves, with the safety engaged and without a trigger pull. 30 million + of them have been made by Remington, and have the Remington Common Fire Control. The best known is the 870. . .
    It’s pretty uncommon, but how it happens is easy: An RCFC only ‘safes’ the trigger, and nothing else. That means that the sear, hammer, and firing pin are free to do what THEY want to do, whenever they want to do it. 870 firing pins are spring-retracted intertials, and when the gun’s in battery, the pin is free to move. The interface between sear and hammer is only .026″ deep–and the sear is free to disengage from the hammer at any time, as there is no mechanical lock of any kind. Usually, unless the gun is dropped ‘just right,’ the firing pin doesn’t hit a primer. Usually, the sear and hammer stay firmly ‘attached’ under the pressure of the sear spring due to the machined-in recapture angle of the cuts on the sear and hammer notches. Usually, that is. SOMEtimes, the firing pin can be slammed forward with enough force to strike a primer. SOMEtimes, the sear and hammer can come apart under stress loading, or through wear, or debris, or just plain filth, and the hammer can fall–without a trigger pull, and with the gun ‘on safe.’
    This is why one doesn’t carry an 870, or any OTHER RCFC gun (and many similar guns that only ‘safe’ the trigger, mostly shotguns nowadays) with a round in the chamber unless you REALLY intend to fire it.
    Now, there’s a dearth of information in the article; It’s more PROBABLE that the fellow with the shotgun, the ‘bear guard’ guarding the people FROM the bears, had a chambered round and managed to unsafe the gun, press the trigger, and then act surprised at the loud noise. However, it IS just possible that he was bitten by the Curse of the 870.
    The semi-standard for Alaska bush guides and bear guards in brush is to have a buckshot load as the first to chamber from the tube (or in the chamber already), and the rest slugs; The idea is that the first buckshot load is for wrecking the eating end of said bear at very close range, to interfere with vision, smelling, and gobbling; The slugs are to ensure that the rest of the bear is rendered harmless shortly thereafter. Some like all slugs. In any case, if there’s bear sign about, a round gets chambered; If there’s less chance of a bear being in the immediate area, safety says to keep the chamber empty. Chambering a round doesn’t take much time, really, if you absolutely HAVE to do it NOW.
    Yes, ‘hazing’ rounds (less-lethal, such as cracker shells or ‘beanbags’) are available; They’re chambered individually when needed, not normally from the magazine, and the best practice is to have a backup gunner with slugs nearby if one intends only to ‘haze’ a bear and not prevent one from killing folks by killing it first. The ‘hazing’ gun isn’t supposed to carry any lethal rounds in the tube–it’s too easy to load a lethal round immediately after firing a ‘hazing’ one out of sheer adrenaline, followed by inadvertently killing a bear that didn’t need killing. Most of the time, folks in bear country don’t worry about hazing; Having the gun is to save human lives, not the bears’. Hazing is a bit of a ‘specialty’ to use when one has enough of the luxury of time and space to NOT have to kill the bear.
    At really close range, by the way, ‘crackers’ and ‘beanbags’ can kill people and bears; Nothing that comes out of a gun muzzle is ‘less-than-lethal.’
    Muzzle consciousness is rather important no matter what, obviously.
    Yes, I teach bear hazing in a place where the bears also come in basic white as well as casual brown.

  8. “Like any gun, a shotgun has to be loaded, the safety disengaged and the trigger pressed to discharge.”

    My understanding is that most shotguns do not have drop safeties. As in, there is nothing that prevents the firing pin from hitting the primer if the sear is released without the trigger being pulled, i.e. if the gun impacts something very hard, it’s possible for the sear to disengage and the gun to fire.

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