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You’ve heard it a hundred times. Maybe a thousand. Rule 1: every gun is always loaded. Always. Even if you’ve checked a gun ten times in the last five minutes, you never know what someone else may have done with a heater when it’s been out of your sight. Even momentarily. The safe thing to do – check the chamber on every gun you pick up, every time you pick it up. Many moons ago, Tamara Keel learned this the hard way, fortunately without anyone developing an unwanted puncture. The story is well worth reading for those of us that are OCD about chamber checks. Or should be. Tam’s probably forgotten more about guns than most of us will ever know about them. You’d do well to learn from her experience. If it can happen to her, it can happen to you or anyone else who handles guns, mkay?

[NOTE: The first version of this blog contained the entirety of Tamara Keel’s post. This was a violation of the fair use doctrine. TTAG apologizes to the original author and assures other bloggers that we will not scrape an undue amount of content in the future.]

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  1. I don’t generally bother with chamber checks every five seconds like the post suggests. I just treat all firearms as though they are loaded, and only check when I need to ensure they are in the right state for the proscribed activity….

    • Not every five seconds. Just every time you pick a gun up. As long as it’s been in your control, you’re OK. Step away for a minute…check the chamber.

      • That’s the way I was taught also, Dan. My father always told me to check the chamber any time I handle a firearm, regardless of whether or not the person that just handed it to me checked the chamber or not, or whether I thought I was the last one to handle it. It seems to make perfect sense to me, one second spent confirming an empty chamber beats the hell out of a life time of regret. Even after I have checked the chamber I still treat every firearm as if it were loaded, and don’t point it at anything I don’t want to destroy, another trait pounded into my head by my father.

  2. tl;dr – Guy brings a gun in off the street. No one checks for rounds. Another guy pulls the trigger. Now the author is OCD.

  3. The gunshops I frequent are pretty good about opening the action before handing a gun to a customer. If they don’t I will, there is just no reason not to.

    • This x 1,000,000. Any time anyone ever hands me a gun or places on in front of me, I ALWAYS make sure that there’s no magazine and check the chamber the second I touch it, even if I know they already checked it.

  4. Being a little OCD when it comes to the chamber check is good. Every time we pick it up, put it down, hand it to someone or someone hands it to us, we should check the friggin’ gun. It takes a second, so what’s the big deal?

    I know a boy (now a man) who did fifteen years because he expected to hear click and heard bang instead, and a girl died because of it. Make the gun safe, brothers and sisters. Make the gun safe.

  5. I am cursed with ammunition gremlins. Every time a gun leaves my hands, they can mess with it. If I wanted it to be loaded, they unload it. If I wanted it to be unloaded, they load it. Every time I pick a gun up, or it’s handed to me, I have to check to undo their dastardly work. It doesn’t help to watch the gun. They’re invisible. Only having my hand on the gun keeps them away.

  6. I follow another rule. It doesn’t matter if you do a chamber check or not. You should treat all guns as if they’re always loaded. No exceptions.

    Since the places where I shoot run hot ranges, I’m used to always having a loaded firearm under my control. My gun is never unloaded unless it’s in the safe, being cleaned or taken apart.

    That means following all those good rules about watching where you point the gun, keeping your finger off the trigger until you are on target, and never pointing a gun at anything you don’t want to shoot.

    The problem with this story is not that the gun shop workers didn’t do a chamber check. The problem is that someone pulled the trigger when he or she was not supposed to.

    If no one pulled the trigger, there would have been no AD.

    People who have different standards of behavior for when guns are loaded and unloaded are setting themselves up to get screwed.


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