lee paige negligent discharge
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lee paige negligent discharge
One of the most famous negligent discharges of all time (click here to view).

An “accidental discharge” is more accurately known as a negligent discharge (ND). One second you’re admiring a brilliantly designed and executed piece of wood (or plastic) and steel and the next, your ears are ringing, you’re blinking furiously, you smell smoke and the unmistakable odor of gunpowder. Your first conscious thought: “Oh s**t!”

If you’re fortunate, the only holes present are in furniture, walls and appliances rather than yourself or someone else. If it was a rifle round, there will tend to be rather more holes than if it were a handgun round. If you’re really fortunate, no one else was aware of your ND, somewhat minimizing the damage to your self-image . . .

Police officers are often thought to be experts in the handling of firearms. This is, as I explained in another post, it ain’t necessarily so. Police agencies are severely handicapped by being limited to recruiting solely from the human race, as these anecdotes reveal:

A Sweetwater, Fla., police officer was recovering Monday after his holstered gun discharged and hit him in the leg while he was chasing shoplifting suspects at Dolphin Mall.

The officer, Joel Bosque, was responding to a shoplifting report at the mall when he was injured. He was taken to the hospital and is “doing fine,” police spokesman Jorge Fernandez de Lara said.

Bosque, who has been with the department for a year, will likely be placed on administrative leave while Miami-Dade police investigate, the Miami Herald reports.

Ah yes; another of those mysterious cases of a holstered gun going off all by itself.

The Winchester (Va.) Police Department is taking a close look at its officers’ weapons holsters after an officer’s gun accidentally went off in a special needs school bus.

The incident occurred Monday morning when a middle school student reached for a police officer’s gun, reports TV3Winchester. Fortunately, no one was injured.

The officer had been dispatched to the bus to calm down the student. While the officer was sitting next to him, the student reached over and put his finger on the trigger of the weapon. The bullet went through the seat and hit the floor.

A close look at holsters? Good idea.

The veteran Lloyd (N.Y.) Police officer who accidentally fired his service weapon in a high school hallway has resigned after an internal investigation faulted him for the incident.

Sean McCutcheon, a school resource officer at Highland High School, had been placed on leave following the incident.

A departmental investigation concluded that the discharge was unintentional and a result of “officer error,” reports the Daily Freeman.

In professional law enforcement agencies, there are consequences for NDs. Unfortunately, the consequences aren’t always so benign:

A Dallas Police Department officer fatally shot himself while cleaning his service weapon at home on Monday afternoon, the department announced.

Officer Christopher Pasley died as a result of an apparent accidental discharge.  Officer Pasley, a five-year veteran, was assigned to the Central Patrol Division.

“The department’s Employee Relations Team has been activated to coordinate assistance to the family during this traumatic time,” said Chief David Brown in a release. “I request the citizens of Dallas keep Officer Pasley and his family in their thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.”

This case is particularly painful:

Police released the identity of a pregnant woman accidentally shot to death Friday afternoon in Montgomery County, Pa., by her husband, a state trooper.

JoAnne Miller, who was 22 weeks pregnant, was taken to Mercy Suburban Hospital with a gunshot wound to the upper body. She died soon after she was admitted. Doctors performed an unsuccessful emergency cesarean. “The baby never had its own breathing or heartbeat,” Montgomery County coroner Walter Hofman told the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The shooting in the home on the 3000 block of Stony Creek Road in East Norriton occurred around 2:30 p.m. Friday, police said. The officer pulled the trigger while taking apart his .45-caliber handgun for cleaning but did not realize the gun was loaded, police said.

“He’s been distraught, cooperative,” said Kevin Steele, Montgomery County first assistant district attorney.

I’m not picking particularly on police officers here. Citizens have more than their fair share of NDs. However, when police officers make that mistake, there tends to be no hue and cry for citizen disarmament. Anti-liberty forces take maximum advantage of the NDs of citizens, citing them as clear evidence that Joe Average American is too untrustworthy to be allowed to keep and bear arms.

Since a substantial part of the foundation of the anti-liberty argument is that guns should only be possessed by the police–the “experts”–they can hardly capitalize on police NDs, which tend to remind those paying attention that every one of us is all too human.

This raises the question at the heart of the issue: are NDs inevitable?

There is a venerable saying among those who carry guns every day, which goes something like this: “There are two kinds of gun owners: those that have had a ND and those that will admit to having had a ND.”

Full disclosure: mea culpa, but if you’re looking for true confessions, try Oprah or the Hallmark Channel. Most, if not all of us, can tell a ND story, or know of those of friends or acquaintances who’ve had one. Another way of phrasing the question is to ask if NDs are preventable.

Theoretically, of course, they are. Absent mechanical faults that virtually defy the laws of physics, a holstered handgun with its trigger and trigger guard completely covered by the material of the holster, as long as it remains holstered, is not going to “go off” by itself. A semiautomatic firearm with no seated magazine, with the chamber checked visually and physically, will not fire a bullet if the slide is closed and the trigger is pulled.

Similarly, a revolver with all cartridges ejected, its cylinder carefully visually and manually checked, will not fire if the cylinder is closed and the trigger is pulled. Yet, supposedly cleared firearms somehow manage to shoot all the time.

Following the four rules of firearm safety such as keeping one’s finger out of the trigger guard and off the trigger until a millisecond before firing, always keeping the muzzle pointed in a safe direction, never pointing the gun at anything you’re not willing to destroy, physically and visually clearing any firearm before handling it, and doing the same before handing it to another, etc., will, if followed, absolutely prevent NDs. Yet they happen every day.

It’s human nature, of course. One of the first things I tell my students at the beginning of every school year is they must, from that moment, pay attention to paying attention. It’s a life-long pursuit. From the moment we’re born, we spend about 1/3 of our life asleep. If we live to 90, we’ll have slept 30 years. How much more of our lives are we willing to miss because we’re not able to be in the instant, we’re not able to focus solely and intently on what is right in front of us?

When what is in front of us is a potentially loaded firearm–and all firearms must always be handled as though loaded at all times–we cannot afford to become complacent. We cannot afford to give that firearm anything less than our full, intense, and focused attention. If we have a ND, and we follow every other gun safety rule, we may not shoot ourselves or anyone else, but we always shoot an enormous hole in our self-image, and hopefully, we fill that hole with a new resolve to pay attention to the basic safety rules, and to what is happening right in front of us.

That’s all it takes: a momentary lapse in attention, failing to do what we’ve done hundreds, even thousands of times, handling a gun when we’re tired, when we’re upset, when our minds are elsewhere, thinking about anything else but containing the enormous power we hold in our distracted hands. We–for the most part–know better. Yet we do it anyway.

When it occurs, our explanations are incredibly inadequate. A fellow SWAT troop who managed to shoot a hole in a locker room wall with his AR-15 could only say: “I thought it was unloaded.” A fellow detective who, while Elk hunting, shot a woman in the arm, said, with horror in his voice, “I thought she was an Elk.”

Is this an argument for restricting gun ownership? If even highly trained and expert police officers have NDs and they kill themselves, their wives and children, aren’t guns just too dangerous? Such thinking ignores the enormous positive benefits of gun ownership and use, which are easily discoverable by those willing to do a bit of honest research.

If acknowledging the failings of human nature were sufficient cause to deny technology, there would be no motor vehicles, for far more people are killed every year in motor vehicle accidents than by gunfire, accidental or intentional. In fact, considering that driving a car is the most complex thing most people ever do, we should be talking about banning cars far more often than banning guns. The margin for error, as illustrated by the numbers of injured and dead, is far greater.

The truth is, if we are to live in an advanced, technological society, we must accept some degree of risk. We must acknowledge that due to negligence, which is a part of human nature, some people will be injured and some will die. We must always do whatever we reasonably can to minimize such consequences, but they are inevitable.

It is when we turn over to government the responsibility for our very lives that life becomes very dangerous indeed, and bad consequences for the individual become inevitable.


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  1. Human beings are flawed. Mistakes are going to happen. Only a fascist would bar all from a product or activity because of the mistakes of a few.

    • The answer is:

      How many gun owners in America? Millions.
      How many have negligent discharges? Hundreds.

      They happen because of negligence. They are avoidable, as proven by the millions of people who don’t have them.

      • Montana Actual, this is all very true, but just contemplate something honestly: millions of those American guns, the overwhelming majority, will never do anything other than sit in a safe, for years. I come from a part of America that has some of the highest gun ownership in the country, and everyone I know has many, yet when the dust settles and the blather runs dry, most of them sit in a safe all the time and sometimes are not touched for years. The overwhelming majority of American gun owners will shoot a few rounds a year. So this changes the statistics you have given for people who do shoot a great deal. It’s kind of like when people say, “Well your chances of being attacked by a grizzly in America are almost nil.” That is true because most of us only visit grizzly country once in a lifetime, and we do not hike deep into the country, and we tend to stay on well-traveled paths where humans are regulars. But if you live in grizzly country, and you hunt the same game they do, and you are in the woods 200 days a year, this all changes. Shooters who shoot thousands of rounds per year have an exponentially higher chance of an ND. In fact, one great shooter I met years ago, who was the finest shot I ever met in law enforcement (he would shoot over 15K rounds a year and sometimes more), said, “It is not a matter of IF you will have an ND if you are around guns all the time, but when.” He said this to really drive home the importance of NEVER having that muzzle pointed anywhere but a totally secure direction. I have been shooting since I was 10 years old and have shot thousands of rounds with men and women all over America, but do not practice as much as he did. I have seen two in my own vicinity. One went straight into the ground; one took a 230 grain ball down the entire length of a man’s leg. Both were what most would call competent and expert shooters.

    • Although there are a great many more examples that one could pick from, here is one from just a few years ago that was not included in the article and that resulted in the death of a California Sheriff’s deputy by a colleague… and it happened right inside the Sheriff’s office: https://www.foxnews.com/us/california-sheriffs-deputy-accidentally-shot-killed-by-colleague

      Apparently what happened is that while showing off his back-up gun and demonstrating how it was carried and drawn, this officer’s actions resulted in having his gun being pointed at the deputy and also carelessly pulling the trigger and thereby delivering a fatal gun shot wound to the chest that killed the deputy.

      All of these gun ND cases clearly demonstrate that a principal problem in America is that there needs to be more emphasis on how to handle a gun in a safe manner together with the need to drive the point hard until it becomes an automatic habit. Any time, and every time, you pick up a gun that you are not intending to immediately fire, you should automatically move to clear the weapon in order to make the weapon safe to handle. And unless you do this every single time it will not become a habit. Remember that in order for these so called “accidental shootings” that result in injury or death to have happened, there needed to be a violation of ALL of the first three rules of gun safety.

      The gun legislation that I think is desperately needed in America is legislation that would mandate that gun safety classes to be taught to all children in school at an appropriate early age. We teach kids the rules of the road, the meaning of traffic lights and how to look both ways before crossing the street in order to avoid being hit by a car, but teach them nothing about guns. How many lives could gun safety education save?

  2. I wonder if the cops whose firearms remained holstered, had light bearing holsters? The holsters designed for weapon lights often have a gap around the trigger guard.

    • Why does a gap matter? There is no play because the slide provides retention when drawing. I have multiple light bearing holsters and none have “a gap”. Nothing can manipulate the trigger inside the holster unless it’s a piece of shit.

      • Many light bearing holsters such as safariland holsters have a gap that would allow a child’s finger to enter. The Winchester VA story above had to be something similar that allow a firearm to be shot in the holster.

    • In god we trust. Everything else we verify.

      I’ve had one ND with a .22. It has been my only ND and I hope it will be my one and only ND.

      My range practices a dual clearance with two range officers checking guns from opposite ends of the line. They are checking your magazines are empty, the bolt is removed, and nothing is in the chamber or obstructing the barrel. The commands are “Clear Once” and then “Clear To Remove”. Only on the second command can you leave the firing point.

      This is because someone had a ND with a gun that had only been cleared once. The shooter to the gun back to their car, closed the bolt on their Garand, and pulled the trigger to release the hammer springs. BANG! Both the shooter and the safety officer who cleared them were suspended. Neither ever returned.

        • These days only using bolt guns means no NDs because you would have breached at least two range rules for it to occur. The CRO would tell you to leave and never return.

          Don’t be “that guy”.

        • Same for mine, and they also strictly prohibit fiddling with your guns in the parking lot. Seriously, “releasing the trigger spring” when you’re off the line? That’s a safety problem deeper than just clearing technique.

          I’d bet dollars to donuts that the range he was talking about was a public range rather than membership. In my experience those places tend to allow more creative interpretations of safety rules. Like, the SKS slung over the guy’s shoulder is drooping way back but isn’t *quite* muzzling the people behind him so it’s OK level of safety.

        • That incident was told to me by the then club captain and happened years before I started in the early 1990s.

          Today with bolt actions, it never happens because bolts MUST be removed when off the firing point.

    • Agreed, Ralph, I had a ND last year while clearing a Tommy Gun at work. Thankfully no one was hurt and the three fingers I shot are back to normal. Painful lesson learned.

  3. “Not if I can help it.” is my macro view on NDs.

    Anyways –

    “A Sweetwater, Fla., police officer was recovering Monday after his holstered gun discharged and hit him in the leg while he was chasing shoplifting suspects at Dolphin Mall.”

    In what reality does drawing a weapon by a LE officer for a fucking shoplifting suspect in a mall seem like a good idea?

    My personal ND story – I was in close proximity to someone else’s ND. Thankfully, the muzzle wasn’t pointed at me…

  4. Feces occurs!

    Just to have a little fun, I will tell the tale of former Portland Police Seargent Gomes. Seargent Gomes “accidentally” shot his wife with a 12 gauge shotgun in an obscenely brutal manner. Responding officers found Mrs Gomes laying on the bed completely nude. The local media reported that Mrs Gomes was shot with buckshot at extremely close range “in the area of the right buttocks.”. Neighbors reported hearing the couple arguing but not the actual gunshot. This of course provokes informed speculation that the muzzle of the shotgun was inserted… somewhere.

    The responding police officers made no arrest. They accepted Seargent Gomes’ explaination that he was just “playing around with the shotgun” when it just went off. The police explained that they made no arrest because “they saw no evidence of domestic violence.”. The District Attorney concurred.

    My helpful suggestion that since such “playing around” with firearms was considered acceptable behavior, the Portland Police should implement a program to distribute Kevlar condoms to their officers so that they could practice safe shotgun sex was not appreciated. Their response was rather vulgar and obscene.

  5. ND’s don’t HAVE to happen. But humans get careless or they’re stupid. I know as I sold insurance at one time. The 1st time I shot a certain gun years ago I couldn’t remember how many rounds I shot. Didn’t lock back as it was a used Keltec PF9. But at least I had it pointed forward at no one but the ceiling and the range was empty😕.

  6. This is bait. Stale bait. But I’m bored.

    ND’s are in the same category as car accidents. Maybe you can avoid ‘em, but not everyone will, and if you’re around others with guns odds are you’ll see one happen eventually. I saw one occur last time I was at the range. Packed up and left afterwards. My kid brother saw several happen when he was at boot camp. I don’t think they’re completely unavoidable, and the moment you think they are is when it’ll happen to you.

    • De Facto, I’ve said this before, but it might bear repeating. Some of the best firearms handling I’ve ever seen was on a civilian range and an LEO range and on a military range. Some of the worst firearms handling I’ve ever seen was on a civilian range and an LEO range and a military range.

      • Gadsden
        The worst firearms handling I have ever seen was when the army let a so called special police group come and train in the late 1970’s. We ended up moving all our soldiers to the next range. I was not surprised when a year later one of them was killed in a raid probably by friendly fire (the ballistics were “inconclusive”).

        The rule about not pointing firearms at non targets cannot be over stated.

  7. Author raises a valid point. ND’s are due to human nature, even if you’ve been ‘safe’ a thousand times- you can still have an ND, no matter how ‘expert’ you are.

    Now bearing the above in mind, can someone please explain why Israeli carry (no round in the chamber) is not the sensible thing to do, when the advantages of safety surely outweigh the disadvantage of an extra third of a second it takes to rack the slide…..

    I state yet again, in Israel there hasn’t been one unsuccessful use of a firearm due to the extra third of a second it took to rack the slide……ever…. (I am a licensed range officer in Israel and I have trained extensively with the highest level pistol operators in Israel).

    • Sometimes you need your weak arm to do something while your strong arm gets your gun into play. Or your weak arm was disabled, immobilized or simply cut off. No unsuccessful use of gun because of Israeli carry (that you know of) might mean the deseased didn’t get to use his gun at all, because he knew he was unable to charge it anyways.

      I’m almost sure that mr. Zimmerman would not have to go through the whole circus about killing Trayvon Martin if he carried his mouse gun with an empty chamber. He would be too dead.

      But you should do whatever works for you and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

    • Carrying a loaded firearm is inherently dangerous (even if there isn’t one in the pipe), or at the very least carries the potential for extreme danger. However, we all chose to carry because we feel the small (but serious) risk of injury due to negligence is greatly offset by the potentially life-saving benefit of having that tool available in a time of dire need.
      We all chose what we feel is the best balance between risk/reward. I for one chose the ever-so-slight increase in danger for the benefits of a faster first shot and the ability to place said shot with just one available hand. I, as well as many others, believe the risk of being in a ‘grappling’ type of encounter are high enough to justify keeping a round in the chamber.
      I know the mechanics/theory/benefits of Israeli carry. I know that with enough practice (a lot!) that the time to get that first shot off is only very slightly longer than with ‘one in the pipe’. However, I reject that practice as being acceptable TO ME, the same way I reject appendix carry, even though some love it.
      Or to sum it all up: you do you and I’ll do me and we’ll just leave it at that with no ill-will.

    • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVPiic-ELoM

      This is why no reputable firearms trainer in America recommends Israeli Carry. If you don’t have the use of both hands you have a difficult task in chambering a round. It’s my understanding that IC is used by the Israeli army because their primary weapon is a rifle. If your rifle is out of the fight then you go for the pistol. But even if you’re only carrying a pistol you don’t get to choose the starting position of the fight. The bad guy does. If he starts the confrontation after he’s already within a few feet you don’t have time to chamber a round. Israeli carry is designed to prevent NDs not be the most efficacious way to defend yourself.

      • Yep, even in the face of video evidence and there is far more than was shown above. I don’t care how police or security guards do things in a foreign lands. My life and my family deserve the best I can offer and there aren’t a bunch of folks to absorb bullets while protecting me and my family. So when the gun is on my hip there is always a round in the chamber. If you are serious about self defense, aren’t especially clumsy, and are able to pay attention to what you are doing, then Israeli carry just isn’t the best choice.

      • The version I read was that, especially when the country first got started, its police and armed forces were equipped with whatever they could get their hands on. There was no consistency in how their handguns operated. Carrying with an empty chamber was the way they standardized training making it independent of the details of different handguns’ manuals of arms. Not an ideal solution but the best they could come up with.

    • “Now bearing the above in mind, can someone please explain why Israeli carry (no round in the chamber) is not the sensible thing to do, when the advantages of safety surely outweigh the disadvantage of an extra third of a second it takes to rack the slide…..”

      Other hand occupied fending off an attack would cover it.

      I practice on my primary carry what I call “Semi-Israeli Carry”- One in the pipe, hammer down. The long, heavy double-action trigger pull is my safety. Immediately ready-to-use if necessary. No safety to forget to flip when my heart is in my throat during an adrenaline dump. Heavy enough that a re-holster ‘oopsie’ most likely would not cause an ND…

      But hey, someone should use what they are comfortable with…

      • It’s usual to carry a DA/SA handgun with the hammer down on a loaded chamber and the safety off. The long, heavy DA trigger makes a negligent discharge unlikely. In that condition, it’s no different from a DA revolver with the hammer down. Cops and private citizens carried them this way for over a century and still do.

    • Gosh we AIN’T Israel…Chicago news just released a video of a retired fireman get in a gunfight with 3 armed lowlife carjackers. He pulled a gun and managed to shoot one punk but sadly got shot to death. As quick as one can imagine. If he had to rack a slide the scum homie wouldn’t have gotten shot. Graphic video. NO Chiraq is worse than the promised land!

    • Like I said below, carrying a gun as it’s designed to be carried is safe. Train and practice accordingly.

      If you are terrified at the prospect of having an ND, well, I’ll let you in on a little secret:

      Everyone goes through that when they first start out.

      I highly, highly recommend carrying a revolver to start with. With that long heavy trigger pull, but still the ability to use the firearm one handed, you get the best of both worlds. Once your comfortable with a revolver, you’ll have the realization of why it’s not inherently dangerous to have one in the chamber.

    • Israeli carry is a result of reasonably logical operational and training constraint. When founded, the IDF was using just about any and all sidearms they could get their hands on. So from a training standpoint, safety off, rack the slide, shoot works for just about any self-loading handgun. That doesn’t make it a good idea in general, but a reasonably good one when dealing with untrained people who might draw just about anything out of the issue barrel.

      Similar to the old practice of keeping a shotgun “cruiser ready”. Safety off, hammer down, rack the slide and shoot works for any pump, and makes sense if your department has a half dozen manufacturers of shotgun with safeties and slide locks in different locations.

      Presumably, if you are carrying a personally owned weapon rather than a randomly issued one of indeterminant manufacture you are familiar with the location of all the controls.

    • Everybody bow to Licensed Operator Steve, who can’t fathom why 1/3 of a second and needing both hands may matter in fight for your life!

    • Wow, hey everyone we have an operator in the house! I need to take this and show all my instructors how they have been doing this stuff wrong and how they need to hire this guy to show all us dumbass Americans how it is all done. Operator Steve is here to save us all!

      By the way Steve, that was sarcasm.

  8. I say we ask John Travolta about what happened in the back seat of that car.

    I would like to find out what ‘really’ happened in that boat with Dick Cheney.

    But seriously…
    THIS is part of what the NRA is for. If it were not for so many leftist idiots trying to convince everyone that it’s a terrorist organization maybe some cops could actually get better training. Buuuut no! we can’t have anything that makes any kind of sense or represents properly spent money.

    There have been too many cases of bad things happening because people are not paying attention. Check, recheck, and check again to make sure there are no live rounds in the gun when not needed. KEEP your finger off the trigger. Laziness and complacency can change your life. Know and understand your weapon. Know what it does AND what it doesn’t do. Know it like the back of your hand. Never underestimate the power of a bullet. Even a .22lr can kill.

  9. Get high enough number of people, statistics say that some of them WILL have a brain fart. Depending on what a person is doing at the time of brain fart occurrence, he may have an traffic accident, chainsaw accident, electrocution, or ND.

    The 4 rules are there to get the number of NDs as low as possible and to make them do as little harm as possible. But only sure way to eliminate negligent discharges is to eliminate all firearms. Or all people.

  10. I joined the club a few years ago when my mini-14 came apart at the range. I had not properly seated the trigger guard after the last cleaning. I dropped the magazine and reseated the trigger guard and pulled the trigger. Oops! There were no witnesses and the rifle was pointed down range. This also highlights that accidents generally start as chain of events where multiple things go wrong. That is why you scrupulously follow all firearms safety rules and never stick a loaded pistol in your crotch.

  11. I don’t believe they are inevitable. Maybe it’s the fact I’ve worked in an industry for 10 years were not paying attention in certain areas can lead to you being maimed or killed in seconds. Part of it is, you CANNOT rely on rote training to ‘clear’ your weapon at times or verify a gun is empty. You MUST engage your brain at the same time. I have never been hurt on the rig floor. NEVER in 10 years. Despite some close calls because I force myself to practice ‘active’ awareness. Don’t just assume you know what others are doing in relation to yourself. Be aware of it actively, pay attention using your brain and you notice things like a pipe swinging out more than it should or that they are pulling something up over your head and non-squished people move out of the way. Safety requires an active brain, not passive rote training.

    For example, this past weekend we were up at a cabin in hill country texas with relatives. At night, I’d put my pistol in a lock box, after clearing the action. I didn’t just remain aware of where my muzzle was, but where it was in relation to the other people in the cabin. Kids upstairs and adults in main room, safe direction is out that wall toward the hill. Once it was in the box, I’d count the magazines, made sure I saw the extra round from the chamber, then locked the box and put it away out of reach of small fingers.

    Don’t want an ND, don’t just train against it, use your brain. EVERY SINGLE TIME.

    • Supposedly, there are four stages of development — unconscious incompetence, conscious incompetence, conscious competence, unconscious competence. In my opinion, conscious competence is the safest because you are least likely to lose concentration. There is a stage after unconscious competence. It’s complacency which is functionally the same as unconscious incompetence.

  12. Gun Safety: Are Negligent Discharges Inevitable?

    Is this a trick question?

    I mean, them human critters are involved? Right?

  13. Because accident sounds better than suicide, or because accidental death pays the family more than suicide?

    Officer Christopher Pasley died as a result of an apparent accidental discharge. Officer Pasley, a five-year veteran, was assigned to the Central Patrol Division.

    • Yup. Every time I hear about an officer killing himself “accidentally” in the news I know it was a suicide and the investigators want to make sure the widow and family gets death benefits. Insurance doesn’t pay out on suicide.

      • Just like all those domestic partners “accidentally” shot while s gun was being cleaned? I remember at one time downunder there was one of these “accidents” almost every other week.

        • Indeed, however does an insurance company pay out on the commission of a felony. The state I reside in regards suicide as a felony.

  14. Almost all “gun cleaning accidents” are suicides that are classified as accidents to let the survivors receive insurance payouts. The only one that I’m personally aware of that wasn’t involved a gunsmith trying to remove a stuck shotgun shell with a rod. The rod compressed the shell and set it off.

    • I’d say there’s a healthy number of “cleaning accidents” that were just garden-variety f**king around, too. Who wants to say they were pretending to be Robert DeNiro in Taxi Driver when they can say they were cleaning their gun instead?

  15. Every individual ND is avoidable. NDs as a category are not. That’s what the laws of gun safety and statistics will tell us. And they are both right!

    • Jack Crow said:

      Every individual ND is avoidable. NDs as a category are not. That’s what the laws of gun safety and statistics will tell us. And they are both right!


      This. This times a million. As far as a I know, the majority of gun owners (vast majority) will never personally experience a ND.

      I don’t know why so many people cite themselves as evidence against the notion that NDs are inevitable. If you claim you’re the patron saint of gun safety and will never have a ND, 1) I find that a bit conceited (everyone has a perfect record until they don’t, yes?) but 2) I will concede you’re probably right (about the never have a ND part). But statistics apply to humanity as a whole, not just the self-selected more-attentive-than-normal audience of a firearms blog. Seriously, how much faith do you have IN OTHERS, barring a serious improvement in human fallilbility? (Don’t forget, your an OTHER to everyone else…)

      To those who think NDs *aren’t* inevitable I’d suggest a rephrasing of the question at hand:

      Do you think the human quality of making mistakes isn’t inevitable specifically for firearms?

      (Yes, I’m postulating that human beings make mistakes. If you want to argue that point, I’ve got all of human history to cite as evidence…)


      Please note, I’m not saying that we should just shrug and accept NDs as part and parcel of life. While I would say they are and always will be, we; that’s a collective “we,” by the way; can always strive to do better.

  16. You can not have a negligent discharge if you treat every firearm as if loaded, check every time you handle any firearm, all while being sure to “keep your booger hook off the bang switch.”

    If you do not do these things. You will have a negligent discharge, because you are negligent.

  17. All I can say is that I’ve not had one in nearly a half-century of handling loaded guns.

    Part of it might be my choice of guns. Choose a gun with only your “trigger finger as the safety,” and when mistakes happen, they’re going to sound like “Bang! Owwwww…”

    • @ Dyspeptic Gunsmith
      I think I fired my first weapon at about 12 years old or so which was a .22 rifle. I’m 63 now and having handled and owned many MANY weapons including full-auto, in all those years I have NEVER had an unintended discharge, negligent discharge or otherwise had a weapon fire that was unintentional.
      I’m sort of with you though, my carry weapon is a P229. The safety is the one between my ears. Also, all my weapons are loaded. It’s funny how loaded weapons are respected just a little bit more.

    • Dyseptic Gunsmith,

      The only event that I witnessed involved a firearm with an extremely odd/unusual design feature, a very tired handler, and poor lighting. The handler visually inspected the firearm before pointing it in a safe direction and pulling the trigger. The following “Bang!” illustrated the need to inspect a firearm with your eyes AND WITH YOUR FINGERS (especially in poor lighting).

      Prior to that event, the handler had dismissed any value in using your fingers to verify that the chamber and magazine well were both empty when you can simply look with your eyes.

      On a related note, that handler would have also realized that the firearm was in actuality loaded had he/she cycled the action a few times before pointing the firearm in a safe direction and pulling the trigger.

      Thus, I will argue that many negligent discharges are a result of inadequate training. That training should show robust techniques (using both your eyes and your fingers — and cycling the action a few times — to verify that a firearm is unloaded) and an explanation of why those techniques are necessary. That last part is important because many students will dismiss all those “extra” steps if they think those “extra” steps serve no purpose.

  18. Only a F K N IDIOT HAS A ND!!!

    Some of these comments about ND’s being a fact of life, SCARES THE F K OUT OF ME!!!!
    If you feel like ND’s just happen sometimes, please stay the F K away from KNOB CREEK RANGE, PLEASE!!!!!

  19. Having a small amount of OCD is safe and helpful, however it has to be in the Goldilocks zone.

    Just at the edge of one’s vision is a beast named complacency, also known as Murphy. The thing that Murphy lives for is you not paying attention to detail.

    Starve the creature and it will become small and weak.

  20. Didn’t Smith and Wesson just recall some M&P pistols because of a defect causing the hammer to fall without squeezing the trigger?

  21. Hey Rusty Molon, I’ve come under fire more times than I can remember -I’ve seen up close -the remains in the flesh (literally) of more than one suicide bomber…. no need to diss others you don’t understand…….

    • Steve Sherridon, you picked the wrong forum to brag about how badass you are. There’s plenty of people on here who would leave a greasy spot where you stand. Also, remember, Americans are better than Limeys at pretty much everything of import, other than losing control of their country to immigrants. British food sucks, too.

      • stilton and wensleydale (“it’s a bit runny, sir.”, “cracking toast, grommit!”), “lemon curry?” you mean coriander chutney isn’t british?
        spam is korean.

  22. The chances you will ever have to use your weapon with deadly force as a citizen is significantly lower than once in a lifetime. The chances of that one chance encounter being when your racking hand is inoperable, or you don’t have time to rack the slide- is one in a hundred.

    Carrying 24/7 with one in the chamber- (which infinitely increases the constant possibility of an ND at any one moment in years of carrying,) seems to be a non rational risk of the gain in an extremely unlikely event- verses the cost of the very real constant risk of an ND…….

    Why is this wrong?

    • Because carrying with one in the chamber isn’t inherently dangerous if you practice/train accordingly. I’ve been carrying 20 years, multiple hand guns, and never had an issue.

      If you are scared of an ND, I’ll give you some advice that helped me get over that fear:

      Start off by carrying a revolver. When you do, you’ll understand why.

  23. What is missing in all of this is definitions

    What is an accidental discharge.

    What is a Negligent discharge.

    What is and unintentional discharge.

    They are not the same can there be some over lap for sure can they stand on their own for sure.

    But without a solid definition of each it is hard to define one or the other.

  24. “after an officer’s gun accidentally went off in a special needs school bus.

    The incident occurred Monday morning when a middle school student reached for a police officer’s gun”

    This is exactly why we need an appropriate response from our law enforcement community, rather than search and destroy.

    What rational policy document could possibly condone firearms on the school bus loaded with middle school children?

    This is exactly the situation that happens again and again, often with much more tragic outcomes, that leads us liberals to suggest there may be a more appropriate response then search and destroy.

    Far too often, mentally ill individuals and their caregivers have been killed or wounded by heavy-handed, armed response by LEOs.

    I am in favor of providing the resources and personnel to staff a more appropriate response team with the skills necessary to deal with mentally unstable individuals.

    Go ahead, feel free to call me a ‘radical socialist commie-tard’ who wants to coddle the criminals, if it makes you feel better about your delusions.

    “When a 23-year-old autistic man carrying a toy truck wandered from a mental health center out into the street Monday, a worker there named Charles Kinsey went to retrieve him.

    A few minutes later the autistic man was still sitting cross-legged blocking the roadway while playing with the small, rectangular white toy. And Kinsey was prone on the ground next to him — a bullet from an assault rifle fired by a police officer having struck his leg.

    “He throws his hands up in the air and says, ‘Don’t shoot me.’ They say lie on the ground, so he does,” Kinsey’s attorney Hilton Napoleon said Wednesday. “He’s on his back with his hands in the air trying to convince the other guy to lie down. It doesn’t make any sense.”

        • It’s all psychological. To Miner Communusts are good even if they do the same thing as the Nazis. He needs to be reminded that he is even worse than a Nazi. If this were my blog Miner would get banned not for his opinions but for his dishonesty. At the very least he should be required to admit that he is an anti-Semite before he would be permitted to pollute the comment section.

    • Naziboi:

      There have been 3903 people shot in Chicago this year and only 17 by police. None 9f those shot by the police have been controversial. When your brownshirts marched down to Englewood to protest the shooting of a hangbanger the residents ran them out of the neighborhood.

  25. Years ago I was shooting at the outdoor range north of Phoenix (Ben Avery). Range master calls an emergency cease fire. Some idiot just started walking out to set up his targets while the range was hot.

    I was shooting a cap and ball revolver. Hammer already cocked. Point the muzzle straight up (because downrange is no longer a safe direction) and carefully lower the hammer. Ka-foosh.

    So, one of the holes in the roof is mine.

  26. They are going to happen.

    If you follow ALL four rules, they won’t happen.

    But even if you violate ONE of the four rules, if you’re following the others, when they do happen you’ll generally have an unintended hole in an inanimate object and not in a living thing.

  27. Travis Bickle- Oh I wasn’t bragging- so sorry if you were offended, I was referring to the times I’ve come under enemy fire- not the times I’ve pulled a trigger/knife in fury………

    Anyway….. any american who’s been there…. has utmost respect for the SAS….

  28. So far, I haven’t had an ND. I’ve come close on two occasions.

    In the first, I was about to drop the hammer on my supposedly empty Gold Cup and decided, in time, to make one extra, unnecessary check to verify that the chamber was empty. It wasn’t.

    I’m not sure the second really qualifies as an ND. At the range, I fired several rounds and thought the magazine was empty even though the slide had not locked back. So I pulled the trigger once more. I say it wasn’t really an ND because, although I didn’t really expect the gun to fire, I pointed it safely down range in case I was wrong.

    The four safety rules are redundant for a reason. To damage property, you have to violate three of them. To harm a living being, you have to violate all four.

  29. I had one ND about 20 years ago. Mercifully I was observing all the other safety rules when I pressed the trigger, and only had a boom…no harm.

    I let the shame of that burn in deep. I never forgot that feeling. I never want to forget it…it has kept me sharp ever since.

  30. Years ago, I had my ND. I was clearing my 1903 Colt pistol after returning home from shopping. My wife and I were having a humorous conversation. I racked the slide and removed the magazine. Not wanting to leave the hidden hammer cocked, I pointed the pistol at the laundry basket on the floor and pulled the trigger. BOOM! I’m fortunate it was pointed in a safe direction.
    Ever since, I cease conversation and focus entirely on the task at hand. On my pistols, I rack the slides numerous times. I still have the bullet as a reminder and I share the story with family and friends as a cautionary tale.
    A few days later, I mentioned to my wife that we need to check out the washer and dryer. Something in them put holes in my underwear. She responded “Don’t you remember? You shot them.” Me, ” Oh yeah… “

  31. No mention of what firearm the law enforcement officers were using when they had their negligent discharges. I bet they were all Glocks

  32. No, they’re not inevitable. The gun will not operate without interaction. Don’t pull the trigger, it will not shoot. Regarding glock: It has two triggers in one, it will not operate unless the other is also pulled at the same time. There’s a little switch on the trigger, it has to be depressed at the same time the trigger is pulled or it will not function. That’s what prevents negligent discharge. The people who shoot glocks irresponsibly are because they are irresponsible people who pulled the trigger.

  33. I’m thankful I haven’t had a ND in 60 years of gun handling. Part of the reason is that I’m very OCD in that area. I sleep with a pistol at easy access, but either not chambered or in a retention holster, so If I m startled awake, I have to do more than one action to fire. If I lay my weapon down anywhere, I clear it and set it where even an earthquake or nearby explosive is unlikely to cause a discharge, even a blow to the magazine. My trigger fingers are more accustomed to life away from the trigger area, after zillions of hours of gun handling. I ask myself questions like, “If my finger twitched right now, would my gun fire?” And “If it did go off now, where would the bullet go (even considering ricochets)?”
    If a firearm were damaged, I think the most likely actions for unwanted discharges, might be when engaging or disengaging the safety, or when chambering/ejecting rounds.
    Stay safe!

  34. In an infinite timeline, all things that can happen, will happen.

    However, we are not operating in such a timeline. There are many gun owners who live and die without ever having a negligent or accidental discharge (the latter being one of mechanical failure). Negligent discharges are preventable and people telling themselves otherwise are just trying to rationalize their mistakes.

    I don’t know if I’d say I’ve had one, because the one time a gun went off before I expected was when it was aiming at a target downrange. It’s just that the trigger was lighter than I expected and a stage became a pull (Sig P365!). Probably should have done more dry firing first. But… the gun was pointed at something I intended to shoot. I’m okay with it.

    • At what point does “accidental” become “negligent” though?

      I’d argue that I’ve had 11 NDs in one sitting. I bought an SKS, field stripped and lubed it. I took it to the range and the first trigger pull does nothing. Wait, eject cartridge and try again, it fires a three shot string (2 ND’s).

      Hrmm. Take it apart, and check it. Seems fine. Relube, poke at the firing pin… Good to go.

      Pull the trigger again. Nothing. Again, nothing. Third time and it dumps the mag (7 NDs, nine total).

      Disassemble again. Poke at firing pin. Moves fine. WTF. Let’s try one more time. Reload, pull trigger, and she fires another three shot string.

      OK, take it home because this is very strange and potentially very unsafe. Turns out to be an intermittent slam-fire because the previous owner never got the cosmoline out of the bolt group and that cosmoline had picked up powder soot over time resulting in a firing pin that stuck back sometimes, forward sometimes and worked properly sometimes. (I’m guessing this is why it was sold, because the owner couldn’t figure out WTAF was going on.)

      Dropping that bolt group in mineral spirits turns the contents of the bowl black almost immediately even though the outside of the bolt group is shiny and clean.

      I didn’t have the tool to disassemble that bolt group so I just did it with mineral spirits over time. Took a week and half a gallon before I didn’t get more shit out of it. It’s never happened again.

      It could be rationally argued that I should have fully disassembled and inspected the gun before taking it to the range. I can’t really argue that this is untrue. If I had managed to toss rounds over the backstop and harm someone it would certainly of been my fault.

    Well, let’s first
    1. DISARM the Police. ….. Then there will be no negligent discharges.
    [And, of course, I have some underwater lands in the Sahara I will sell, …. cheap. …..]

  36. I don’t know what the exact numbers are. But I’m pretty sure that ND’s occur at a rate far fewer in the military, than in the civilian world including civilian law enforcement. Because a negligent discharge is treated to very differently in the military.

    In the military you can be permanently demoted. Loss of pay. Perhaps sent to prison. Be forced to pay for any damage that you caused.

    Warning signs about having a negligent discharge are posted everywhere. In the military office spaces, all work areas, including the Barracks.

    I’ve read of in these occurring in civilian police training sessions. Where people were wounded or died. And no officer went to prison. No officer was suspended with loss of pay. That happened in a Florida police officer training session. When a civilian female died at the hands of a negligent officer.

    • My experience has been the opposite. When we had competitions involving military and police, we’ve had to bring them UP to our standards.

      But the most lax safety practices I saw were at the Fudd ranges. They were so strict they only allowed single shot loading. No wonder they went giddy at the thought of up to 5 rounds in a magazine. But shockingly lax in not clearing rifles before they were removed from the bench or range.

  37. Everyone is capable of being negligent! Even the design may be the cause!

  38. I disagree. For just one example, an accidental fire can occur from a mechanical malfunction such as a slam fire. That would be, in fact an accidental discharge.

  39. They are negligence if you have never had one, or at least never admitted to one. Once you have, they become accidents or mechanical failures.
    I usually carry a revolver. If I do carry an auto, its with a clear chamber. Yes, that slows things down a bit and a wolf is alive because of it, but I’ve had pistols fire when racking the slide and thats worse. I cringe whenever I see someone do it before holstering.

  40. There is a higher chance that you will need two spare mags in a gunfight, than the chances of your racking hand being inoperable to rack the slide or you not having enough time to rack the slide before firing….
    So if you don’t always carry at least two spare mags, (because you don’t cater for every single eventuality)-then why do you carry with one in the chamber-a situation that infinitely increases the constant risk of an ND?

    BTW Travis Bickle, actually the last thing on my ‘to do’ list is to impress you……..

  41. When I apprenticed as a forensic firearms examiner, my mentor had his one and only case of an accidental (but still preventable) discharge in nearly 20 years as an examiner. A rancher bobbled and dropped a semi auto, which landed on the hammer and discharged. After much examination, my mentor discovered that the firearm was chambered for one of the rarer, lengthier, 9mm’s; in his ignorance he had loaded it with 9mm Luger. Preventable, yes. Result of personal ignorance, yes. But in his many years as an examiner with three labs, the only time he could ascribe fault to a mechanical issue, rather than operator error.


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