You may wonder why I’ve chosen a man accused of capital murder as TTAG’s Irresponsible Gun Owner of the Day. Judging from the description of his trial at 2.oanow.com, Courtney L. Lockhart is a bad, bad man who did a bad, bad thing. Although the story doesn’t reveal whether or not Mr. Lockhart owned the revolver used in the heinous crime, the chances of winning today’s Powerball are only marginally worse. Still, as we’ve said here many times, if you’re holding a gun, you own it. And Lockhart’s actions provide an important safety lesson for us all . . .
Lockhart maintained during the interrogations he didn’t intend to shoot Burk. He even asked police if she was dead.
But Lockhart approached her from behind with a loaded revolver. He told police it was cocked the entire time.
He claimed to be surprised when the gun fired unexpectedly and Burk jumped from the vehicle.
“Where did you shoot her? Where did you shoot her?” an investigator asked in the initial interrogation.
“I don’t know. I was holding the gun like this and it went off,” answered Lockhart.
Lockhart’s account is entirely plausible. The moment he cocked his revolver, putting the weapon into single action mode, the gun was only a finger twitch away from an accidental discharge.
Assuming (as we must) that Lockhart lacked any concept of trigger discipline and didn’t know how to safely decock his weapon, it was only a matter of time before the revolver revolved. (You might say it’s a shame the gun was pointed at his head at the time, but I couldn’t possibly comment.) This fact doesn’t appear to have made it into the trial:
Katherine Richert, director of the state forensic firearms and tool marks lab, testified the revolver was dirty, but functional. She said the pistol’s internal safety feature would have likely prevented a discharge unless the trigger was pulled.
Ms. Richert’s testimony implies that the trigger pull required conscious effort. Responsible gun owners must understand the extreme danger of thinking that way, and guard against the lethal complacency the thought engenders.
If you accept the idea that you might put your finger on the trigger and fire a gun without thinking about it, then you fully understand the importance of muzzle control. Few shooters realize that this safety rule applies to self-defense situations. Never challenge anyone with a gun with the weapon pointed at the perp. Point the muzzle in front of their feet.
I repeat: just as you should never put your finger on the trigger of a gun until you’re in the actual act of shooting, never point a gun at someone until you’re in the actual act of shooting them. Sure, you could change your mind in a split second with your gun pointed at someone with your finger on the trigger. But it’s not bloody likely, mate.
Equally important, practice drawing your weapon and NOT pointing the muzzle at the target. If you go to the range and practice drawing your weapon, aiming straight at the target and firing thousands of times, by God that’s what you’ll do when the target isn’t made of paper.
Finally, if you’re planning on using a revolver for self-defense, never shoot it single action mode. Never. Ever. Despite what the movies say, you don’t need to cock your weapon to show you’re really serious. Pointing a gun in front of an attacker’s feet or, if necessary, at them, is enough. Or, in this case, WAY too much.