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“A 22-year-old woman told police she was at the Hooters with friends when one of them, Christopher E. Bohn [above] reloaded a handgun and shot her in her ankle,” reports. “The victim was taken to an area hospital with non life-threatening injuries, police said. Bohn, 36, was charged with willfully discharging firearms in a public place, Fairfax County [VA] police said.” It seems pretty clear that Mr. Bohn was showing off his gat at the time of the “accident” (police designation). Obviously that’s a no-no, especially in anything remotely resembling a public place. But there’s another lesson here, one that irks me no end . . .

One of the biggest problems with “gun-free” zones: you have to either leave your gun somewhere or avoid them entirely. Who wants to do that? Sometimes you have a choice; Toys R Us can kiss my NERFs. Sometimes you don’t; even members of the Sovereign Nation movement have to visit government buildings from time to time (including jails).

Worse, many states require that gun owners who want to leave their gun in a vehicle must store their unattended firearm in a locked container in the trunk (or the farthest point in the rear of their SUV) with the ammunition stored separately.

PITA? For sure. For one thing, unloading and reloading a gun in public draws attention to the gun owner. For another, it’s dangerous. A single, simple lapse of concentration can be fatal. Not to belabor the point, the best place to load and/or unload a gun is a “sterile” environment (e.g., a gun range). Not a Whole Foods parking lot.

The vast majority of gun owners observe all safety rules and pay strict attention to what they’re doing when loading and unloading their heater. But, like take-off and landing for a pilot, the bullets-in/bullets-out process is one of the most dangerous parts of regular gun handling. You’re manipulating a loaded weapon.

And what point does it serve, exactly? Aside from the inherent absurdity of gun-free zones (a.k.a, target rich environments) wouldn’t we all be safer if gun owners were allowed to leave their gun holstered throughout their day?

Meanwhile, here’s an idea: talk to yourself when unloading—if only to screen out any distractions. “Safe direction. Mag out. Mag down. Slide back. Gun down. Safe direction. Retrieve bullet. Store bullet. Store gun. Store ammo.” Use a similar monologue for loading.

Guns don’t go off by themselves. You are responsible for your firearm. Carry it responsibly. Load it and unload it safely. That is all.

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  1. Another excellent article and one of the reasons why I love this site.

    I would change a couple of answers to this one line though….

    “But there’s another lesson here, one that irks me no end . . .”

    The picture of the mouth-breather on this article is the EXACT cannon-fodder the left looks for to use against 2nd amendment advocates. Four earings that are shrunken c*ck-rings with 2 per ear so you have no clue about his “orientation” and the WWI nazi cross just completes the “troglodyte” image to a T.

    All that is needed to complete this “poster child” for the left is a discrete listing of his past criminal offenses including his being a gay nazi skinhead gun nut who threatens people with his guns.

    • Four earing… with 2 per ear so you have no clue about his “orientation”…

      Are you stuck in high school?

      WWI nazi cross

      lol wut? That is a Iron Cross, and originates from Prussia. It predates both the Nazis and WW1.

    • “All that is needed to complete this “poster child” for the left is a discrete listing of his past criminal offenses including his being a gay nazi skinhead gun nut who threatens people with his guns.”

      Yes, being a bigoted idiot comes across much better overall.

    • It is the Maltese Cross which is the symbol of the Knights of Malta. It was adopted by the Kingdom of Prussia. You will find the same cross on the Deutsches Heer vehicles, Luftwaffe aircraft and is the symbol of the Bundeswehr (State Defense Forces).

    • This kind of hatred does nothing for gun owners, or human beings in general. Should you really be throwing around “gay” like it’s a derogatory term? I suppose you are probably opposed to “skirts” and “coloreds” having equal rights too. Climb back into your hole, troglodyte.

  2. Just took care of a gent with a lifetime’s experience gun handling who shot himself in the hand while reloading.

  3. “willfully discharging firearms in a public place”

    Most likely, there wasn’t anything “willful” about this ND.

  4. Regarding the “tip” of talking to yourself — I do that every time I unload / reload, and I think it’s a great idea. Whether I’m alone or with my family, I talk out loud, too. The safety mantra helps reassure them (and me) that I’m paying attention and not just acting on autopilot.

  5. Luckily I’m not required to unload my handgun if I want to leave it in the car when I go somewhere like ToysRUs. If I had to as often as you seem to Robert, I’d probably switch to wheelguns entirely just to avoid continually rechambering the same rounds.

    On a related note that happens to be a pet peeve of mine, this topic is also why I cringe anytime I hear about CCWers having their guns taken by cops during simple traffic stops, whether it’s for “officer safety” or to run serial numbers. I’ve read some horror stories on forums, including one guy who said the cop who took his gun stuffed it into his waistband for the walk back to his cruiser (unsure of the gun type).

    Not only am I a law abiding citizen who has been given permission to carry a handgun by the same state/city/county that gave that cop his badge, you’re asking me to unholster my firearm and hand it to someone who may or may not be familiar with its operation. I’ve seen cops who couldn’t open the cylinder on a revolver or check the chamber on a 1911 (because of the thumb safety).

    Sounds like an invitation to disaster simply because that officer feels uncomfortable, or wants to check for a stolen gun without any valid reason. Similar to asking a citizen to unload and reload their firearm every single time they’re merely in a parking lot, something that obviously wasn’t thought up by people actually familiar with firearms.

  6. Yep, loading/unloading is dangerous. The likelihood of a four-rules violation is substantial when the firearm is carelessly manipulated in close quarters, and this is also where a mechanical malfunction (however unlikely) has an opportunity to cause an unintentional discharge.

    The good news is that a properly-layered system of safety rules should tolerate the occasional human and machine error. In this particular case, any amount of buffoonery (and the likely violation of Rule #3 – keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot) would have been largely inconsequential had someone followed Rule #2 – never allow the muzzle to cover anything you are not willing to destroy.

  7. The article should also mention that rechambering will cause bullet setback, which if done enough can dramatically increase chamber pressure, causing a kaboom.

  8. Guy bears an astonishing resemblance to Vincent D’Onofrio. If you see him tilting his head while questioning someone, prepare to laugh. If you see him walking into a bathroom with an M-14, get a mop.

  9. Kind of reminds me of the movie A Long Kiss Goodnight with Samuel L Jackson. He would hum this particular tune every time he did something. Put my keys in my left pocket da da da da, put my wallet in the back da da da da……This is why I quit going over the bridge into Illinois, I would always have to go through this procedure (unloading and reloading) just to drive three miles to pick up my IL lotto tickets. Not any more!

    • EDC
      No phone (phone), No lights(glasses) no motor car (keys) not a single luxury (wallet) like Robinson Caruso………
      and the rest (gun, ipad,headphones, security ID badge)

  10. Some details are left out of the OP. This guy had just left the Nations Gun Show and was under the table, reloading his pistol and then cutting the zip tie when he fired into his friends wife’s leg.

  11. “But there’s another lesson here, one that irks me no end . . .”

    I thought you were about to write that the other reason you got irked is that he shot a pretty girl.

  12. One of the things that irks me, not just when people reload, but when they even pick up their gun, and that is they break rule number 3 of gun safety which is keep your finger off the trigger. Hell, it sounds like he broke all four of the rules here, but people who pick up a gun, and immediately put their finger on the trigger just bug the hell out of me.

  13. One thing I like about my wife’s M-9, unlike a 1911, you can clear it with the safety on. While I still honor the four rules it does add an extra layer of protection.

  14. I’m a bit confused (nothing new). Why would that guy be RELOADING his pistol at a restaurant? Did he unload it? Why? And, then reloaded it? Was he performing a “demonstration?” In a restaurant?

    Next, I’m a bit confused on why so many of the comments refer to routinely unloading and reloading their own guns. Why? I virtually never unload and then reload my pistol. It simply stays loaded. When I’m ready to retire for the night, it comes out of the holster and into the safe. At the start of the day it goes back in my holster. Why would I unload it?

    In the rare circumstance that I have to leave gun in car (very few no gun zones here), I put it in my car safe (loaded), which is inside the car, not the trunk. I don’t unload and then reload then, either.

    So, I’m not following the rationale for all the daily unloading and reloading. The only time I do that is either to field strip and clean the gun. Oh… and I reload after using it at the range. 🙂

    • In some states (e.g., Massachusetts) gun owners cannot legally stash their gat in a glove box. They have to put it in a locked container in the car’s trunk or the furthest point from the driver in an SUV. Unloaded. With the ammo stored separately.

      • Yeah… I figured that much (crazy-ass state… my brother lives there). But, it seems some guys are unloading and reloading routinely even at home? Or did I misinterpret?

    • The main (only) reason I unload and reload is for dry-fire drills. I don’t hit the range often, but I don’t want to forget what my trigger feels like.

      Oh, or to show it off for a friend. But only in my own home.

  15. I think I disagree. Load and unload your gun as much as you want (just watch out for bullet setback). It’s not dangerous– or if it is, you need to spend more time practicing safe handling procedures.

    What you should do is avoid handling your gun (for any purpose at all, except to shoot a bg) in any location that is not secure and free from distractions. Cars and restaurants are neither.

  16. When I climb off or on a ladder on the roof I continiously repeat the mantra
    “Workn’ near the edge, Boss, workn’ near the edge”
    Same thing, only different.

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