Negligent discharge


March 12, 2004, 08:10 PM
Please understand that I'm only posting this as a warning to other members and a reminder to myself, that following the four rules is absolutely vital.

I put a .40 caliber hole in a living room window frame today. I had my USP .40 out for some double action trigger practice, had removed the magazine and put it in the case, closed the case and put it in my bedroom... I was 'sure' the chamber was empty and the safety was on... Aimed, pulled, and the gun jumped.

I sat in total shock for a few seconds then ran outside to see if the bullet had exited the house, I still cant find any exit points and I think that the 2x4's around the window stopped it. One of my roommates was home at the time and somehow didn't think it was a big deal.

This is hard to write guys, I feel like I let everyone down, I'm questioning my competency as a shooter and the wisdom of staying one :(

No one was hurt and I don't think any of the neighbors heard the shot. The house on the other side of the wall I shot is protected by a cinder block wall but god knows where that bullet could have gone if it had been 12 inches to the left and gone through the window.

Anyways, I always told myself while reading posts here and at TFL that I'd never have an ND... Please be careful everyone.

Thanks for letting me get this off my chest.


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March 12, 2004, 08:25 PM
The Four Rules....

Been there, done that and I'm sure you're being hard enough on yourself...It takes a mature person to admit their wrong and I commend you for that, but take this as a lesson to ABSOLUTELY ENSURE it doesn't happen again...If you weren't big on safety before, you will be now.

The important thing is that nobody got hurt.

Use this horrible lack of judgement as a turning point and use it to illustrate to new shooters just how important the rules are. Some rules were made to be broken...these four were not.


March 12, 2004, 08:30 PM
Its good to speak up to remind us all to check and check again. Never take anything for granted.

My favorite uncle died a few years ago from a self inflicted ND. Into his gut from his 1911. He died in less than six minutes.

He was the guy who taught me how to flyfish, and make a fire with flint and steel.

Sorely missed, like you would be.

Stay safer.

March 12, 2004, 08:34 PM
Don't be so hard on yourself, Tag. At least not to the point of giving it up.
Every training class I've been to, the instructors have told us that the question is not IF you have a ND, but WHEN.
My story matches yours almost word for word. Really freaked me out for a long time. I too, questioned my ability and the wisdom of continuing to shoot. For a long time after, I had a knot in my stomach every time I picked up one of my guns. Just thinking about what would have happened if things had gone a little me shivers, makes me want to puke.
But I got over it, and it drilled home the lesson like no amount of classroom training ever could.
EVERY GUN IS ALWAYS LOADED. When I practice dry firing now, the ammo isn't even in the same room, and I check three times before I start to make sure that chamber is empty.
What you have here is an opportunity to learn from a mistake. So, do what I did. Force yourself to handle that weapon. Just like getting back on the horse that threw ya. It's a tool. What I did was to give the thing a light cleaning every day until I was comfortable with it again.

At least your ND wasn't in a motel room during a training event. drunk and naked with a shotgun. (As was the story told about a SWAT member during one training session).

By the way, if you haven't already, wash out your pants. If you leave that stuff in 'em, you'll never get the stink out.

March 12, 2004, 08:40 PM
The roommate, who was home, one of my best friends, has just been getting into shooting handguns. I was the one telling him how to handle his new gun safely, now I have become a complete hypocrite. I hope one day I'll be able to look back on this and use it for something constructive, but right now I feel terrible.

All I could say afterwards was 'that will never happen again'

Black Majik
March 12, 2004, 08:49 PM
For some reason these types of posts reminds of me of posts made in the sportbike forums.

The majority of sportbikers will eventually lay their bike down, by not looking through the turn, but not giving it enough gas in the turn, by chickening out and try to brake through the turn instead of leaning more etc etc... and of course the posts are similar to these.

For some reason it reminds me of things that we know, and try to practice to avoid, yet accidents happen.

Now, please dont try to take this as a flame towards you Tag. I'm just simply making a comparison of something I remembered. So, as the sportbikers would say, take this as a lesson, and move on.

Its difficult and shocking (just like laying down your bike for the first time) and it can cause death to you or someone else... but its just a reminder of the responsibilities that we must take when we take on these types of hobbies.

I'm glad you posted this Tag, its a good reminder to everyone to always check the chamber/cylinder before pulling the trigger. I know I always do even though I just checked the chamber/cylinder. I'll check it again everytime before making the dryfire.

I'm glad no one was hurt. Someone was watching over :)

Shoot safe, and be safe

March 12, 2004, 08:51 PM
Watch CourtTV. Jayson Williams is on trial for aggravated manslaughter, reckless manslaughter, aggravated assault and witness and evidence tampering. He killed his limo driver with a 12 ga shotgun fired at a distance of 18 inches. Could get 50+ years in prison. The trial is a great educational experience.

March 12, 2004, 08:53 PM
You aren't a hypocrite. It's just that now you have first hand experience with breaking one of the rules, and now you can tell people from experience that it's a bad idea.
I too, felt horrible afterward. I felt guilty and unworthy. I felt like a moron. It goes away. The important thing is to learn from it. I realized I had made a boneheaded mistake. Nobody was hurt, that's most important here.

El Tejon
March 12, 2004, 08:59 PM
Glad you and everyone else is O.K.

The Four Rules light is always on. Always. Make fun of those that preach the Four Rules as over-educated, uptight Yankees all you wish, just follow the Four Rules.

In addition, one does not dry practice wily-nilly, but has an area with a solid backstop and safe direction.

In compliance with Rule #1, we always check our weapons by sight and by touch. We do this with press checking.

It all about the gun handling, then its about the mindset, then about marksmanship, then it's all about the bling, bling.

March 12, 2004, 09:03 PM
Yep it happens. Mine was at the range after shooting. One guy (Deputy) wanted us to shoot a line of hits (like he got raked by full auto) on the pickup box. It was dark and nobody had a flashlight handy but a fire 20yds away. I KNEW I had 2 rds in my 1911 so when person (acting RO) told me to load and fire I fired two, pulled slide back (at that time it was NOT uncommon for slide to run forward on empty mag,light loads) The RO (looked) (remember poor light) and called clear/slide/hammer and BOOM Hit about 2" from last shot. We then got a flashlight to check properly. You had it pointed in safe direction. IMO y ou can break and ONE rule and nobody will get hurt. Break 2 or more.....

March 12, 2004, 09:10 PM
thanks everyone for your replies, I promise this is not a mistake I will make twice.

Luis Leon
March 12, 2004, 09:11 PM

I think It took a lot of courage on your part to post your ND. You definitely were lucky that the only thing hurt is your pride. That said, next time just rack the slide and keep racking it until your really sure its not loaded—then proceed to dry firing. Never squeeze the trigger to see if its loaded, as a gun always IS.

While I claim no special knowledge other than basic, safe, gun handling skills. I don't, in my opinion believe that negligent discharges are inevitable. :rolleyes:


Luis Leon

March 12, 2004, 09:17 PM
Don't beat yourself up. Accidents will happen no matter how careful you are. Glad it went the way it did.

March 12, 2004, 09:37 PM
I agree with Luis (welcome to THR BTW! :) ) ..... it takes courage to admit errors ... but you have learned and so also do others by your experience .. it is a salutary reminder.Aimed, pulled, and the gun jumped. I have to wonder re the ''aimed'' ... you say the bullet could so easily have exited the glass. So ... a word in the ear, a friendly one .... if nothing else ... having lapsed on rule #1 .. NEVER but NEVER ignore rule #2 ... that is the one that can make an ND little more than embarrassment and a guarantee that no harm befalls anything important.

I am glad you are fine and relieved for you this turns out to be little more now than severe ''loss of face'' .... you'll get over it .. and for heaven's sake ... get back to shooting, quick!:p

Ala Dan
March 12, 2004, 09:37 PM
Stay cool there Tag! Glad everyone is OK. Learn
from your mistake; and move forward being more aware
each time you pick a weapon up! Take Care~

Best Wishes,
Ala Dan, N.R.A. Life Member

March 12, 2004, 09:42 PM
I've already had my ND incident and hopefully it will be my last. Alcohol was involved. The bullet even grazed me, but I wasn't even that shaken up by it at the time because I was drunk, I actually started laughing believe it or not and so did two other people that were in the room. The next day I was like whoooooa....

I always make a point to verify that the chamber is empty and not just "assume" that it is. And that the magazine is either dropped or empty.

March 12, 2004, 09:42 PM

You live and you learn. I did something like that quite a few years ago and it's embarrassing, but in your case (and mine), no real harm was done, but an important lesson learned.

As a point of learning for the forum, have all of you picked out what you know is a safe direction in your home to "dry fire" or just to drop the hammer on an empty chamber after you clean your weapon? I aim out my window into my (rural) back yard. Worst case scenario is replacing a pane of glass.

March 12, 2004, 10:01 PM
have all of you picked out what you know is a safe direction in your home to "dry fire" or just to drop the hammer on an empty chamber Indeed Stand_Watie ... important. There we are ... rule #2 all over. The most critical.

My office is in a large shed .. I decock ... always at the floor .. just plywood and gravel under. If I dry fire it is toward an outer wall with 500 yards of open field beyond ... and that is with another old shed in the way.

If any time a gun is ''triggered'' we assume (as we should and must) that it will go ''bang'' then rule #2 should be easy. In other words .. full adherance to rules #1 and #2 ... all but make the remainder of lesser consequence. In relative terms of course!

March 12, 2004, 10:20 PM
Many of us have had this happen - with me it was a .22 that was "unloaded". As others have said you're not a hypocrit for telling others what the rules are, even thouh you accidentally broke one. Just keep going, and learn from it.

It does shake you up, doesn't it? :eek:

March 12, 2004, 11:01 PM
Simple: remove magazine, lock back slide. Inspect. If slide hasn't been locked back and the chamber inspected, dry firing is not safe. Ever.

I don't even trust racking the slide. Maybe there's some weird circumstance preventing the bullet from falling and the extractor is broken.

March 13, 2004, 12:24 AM
You screwed up, and you’re beating yourself up over it, which is a good thing....for a while at least. Serious errors deserve serious reflection. Don't dwell on it for too long...but ALWAYS keep it in the back of your mind and let it turn into an obsession for safety. Glad to hear that no one was injured.

Andrew Rothman
March 13, 2004, 12:38 AM
the instructors have told us that the question is not IF you have a ND, but WHEN.

Really? I don't buy it. I imagine a majority of responsible shooters go their whole lives without an ND. (I am excluding true ADs caused by hardware malfunction.

Must be time for a poll.

Don't beat yourself up. Accidents will happen no matter how careful you are.

I don't buy that either. A negligent discharge is NOT an accident. Falling on the ice is an accident. Sawing your finger off or having an ND is negligence.

How would you feel if your pilot told you that plane crashes due to pilot error were bound to happen?

Good gunners and good pilots have a lot in common. They have checklists and procedures that may seems silly or redundant or paranoid, but that are used EVERY TIME.

You can't let your guard down -- ever. The mindset that it is bound to happen is a terrible one -- and I imagine could become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Resolve today that it is NOT bound to happen -- because it is completely within your power to prevent.

Old Fuff
March 13, 2004, 12:03 PM

I make it a practice to remove the magazine and then lock the slide open when clearing an automatic pistol. This way you can inspect both the chamber and magazine well and have plenty of time to BE SURE before you lower the slide.

Sometimes one may clear the pistol so quickly that they really don't look. Doing it my way will prevent this.

Also, I never handle, accept from another, or hand a gun to another person that doesn't have the action open (pistol with slide locked back, revolver with cylinder open). This may be overkill, but it's the way I was taught, and so far what happened to you hasn't happened to me.

My first instructor was my Father, and on safety issues he was a "$%&&." I never forgot.

March 13, 2004, 12:36 PM
You should be commended in the sense that it bothered you and you're exploring what went wrong. I get angry at those who find it amusing; you took it seriously so kudos for that. Things like this teach all of us to take our gun ownership seriously and to make sure our weapons are in fact unloaded. Thank God no one was hurt and that the worst that happened was you re-learned a very good lesson.

March 14, 2004, 10:33 AM
EVERYTIME you pick up a firearm VERIFY it is empty. Then treat it as if it were loaded.

March 14, 2004, 11:05 AM
I put a .40 caliber hole in .....

been there, done that, felt like an ass.....

it will raise your awareness level 1000% next, and every time you pick up your pistol....

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