I get a stark reminder to treat every gun as loaded


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DeadMoneyDrew
April 22, 2013, 10:21 PM
Hi all,

Last night I was browsing through a gun control debate thread in the off-topic section of a poker forum that I frequent. That forum tends to skew a bit left, so the antis in the gun control thread outnumber the gun guys about 60%/40%. There is one anti-gun guy who must wake up every day, scour Google News for stories on gun crimes or accidental shootings, and then post them in that thread saying "see guns are bad!" He has a particular infatuation with accidental shootings.

Yesterday one of the gun guys commented to the anti-gun guy "Look, safe firearm handling practices are based on good old fashioned common sense. If you follow the safety rules at all times then your chances of accidentally shooting yourself or someone else are extremely remote."

That didn't quell the anti-gun guy but it got me to thinking about how the four rules of gun safety are largely based on common sense and reasonable behavior.

Today I got a surprising reminder to always treat a gun as if it is loaded. I was getting ready to head to the range, and I opened up my pistol case to get everything squared away. Out of habit I checked both guns to verify that they were not loaded. I fully expected to find them both empty, but instead I got greeted by this. Whoops!

http://i85.photobucket.com/albums/k57/anerney/online/whoops_zps153c530c.jpg

http://i85.photobucket.com/albums/k57/anerney/online/doh_zps9f234ede.png

Granted, it is highly unlikely that I would ever commit a negligent discharge with a single action revolver. Plus it ended up being just an empty shell casing. Still, I could have sworn that I checked and double checked the cylinder before putting the gun away the last time I had it out. Seeing that casing still in the cylinder shocked the crap out of me.

Then while shooting today I miscounted the shots, thinking that I still had a round left when I had actually fired all 10. I could have easily miscounted the other way and then missed the round when emptying the cylinder. Again, that is highly unlikely, but it only takes one mistake for someone to get hurt.

So I got reminded today to always treat a gun as if it is loaded, and I am now sharing that reminder.

Happy (safe) shooting!

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The_Next_Generation
April 22, 2013, 10:23 PM
That's why I always check that a gun is empty at least twice.

Seriously, I just somehow can't trust myself after only checking once!

itchy1
April 22, 2013, 10:29 PM
You can certainly never be too hyper vigilant when it comes to safety. That's a sweet looking ST you have there. I'm a relatively new SS owner and was thinking about possibly adding a 10.

DeadMoneyDrew
April 22, 2013, 10:29 PM
That's the worst part - I swear that I checked it twice too!

JVaughn
April 22, 2013, 10:38 PM
I was taught that a gun can only be empty after you have checked it and it hasn't left your hand. If you lay it down, it is loaded again and has to be checked again. I've done that my whole life, can't be too careful.

bigfatdave
April 22, 2013, 10:55 PM
I won't call a gun "cleared" unless I actually clear it or it is rendered non-functional (example, revolver without cylinder, pistol with slide/barrel not installed, etc)

My big moment was when I got rushed packing up on a rental range (a terrible rental range with terrible safety, lousy ventilation, and a jerk behind the counter who would charge you on the way out if you went over your time ... this place almost turned the Mrs off of shooting back in the early days)
... back on topic, we rushed packing up, and were stuffing guns into cases fairly quick. When I got home and started unpacking for cleaning, I was pulling guns out and verifying them clear, when out popped a live round from the chamber of my trusty old Ruger mkIII.
Me: "did I pack up the Ruger or did you?"
Her: "damned if I remember, why?"
Me: "come look what I found"
... ... and we never did figure out who stuffed that gun into a hard case and tossed it in the bag of gun stuff and casually tossed the whole thing in the trunk (well, I suppose I carried the heavy bag of steel and lead and put it in the trunk, I'm a gentelman like that)

That was day#1 of the new ironclad household policy:
-Loaded guns are A-OK - IN HOLSTERS
-Guns not in holsters should be cleared, no "full mag empty chamber", no "hammer down", no "the safety is on" ... cleared
-Any gun not in a holster gets cleared, not "going through the motions of clearing it" ... but clearing the gun with a skeptical attitude in a way that expects the gun to be loaded (duh, see Rule#1 of 4)
-If someone is there to idiot check your clearing, use them as an idiot checker
-Putting a gun in a case counts, clear it. Taking a gun out of the lockup counts, clear it. Taking a gun out of lockup and putting it on a table to be loaded into a range bag counts at each pickup, clear it when you grab it from the cabinet and when it goes from table to bag (leaving boomsticks locked open helps here).
-No non-cleared guns in storage/transport unless they're in a holster.

No bangnuts hiding in the boomsticks since, and it adds maybe 45 seconds to the average week in my household. If I could sum it up in one sentence, I'd call it the 5th rule (it is obvioulsy closely tied to Rule#1)

DeadMoneyDrew
April 22, 2013, 11:23 PM
You can certainly never be too hyper vigilant when it comes to safety. That's a sweet looking ST you have there. I'm a relatively new SS owner and was thinking about possibly adding a 10.
Thanks man. I was actually looking for a Single Six when I instead came across this bad boy at the Philadelphia Gun and Knife Show. It's great for plinking and target practice.

DeadMoneyDrew
April 22, 2013, 11:24 PM
JVaughn and Dave, I am definitely adding those rules to my gun safety procedures.

beatledog7
April 22, 2013, 11:26 PM
SA revolvers are the most complex firearms to prove unloaded.

In addition to the three (NRA) or four Cooper) rules, I have a few other rules that keep things safe:

- Never put a loaded gun in a case or safe.
- Never put a loaded gun on the bench.
- Never let go of a loaded gun except to its holster or its standby place.
- Every gun is loaded, of course, until I prove it's not loaded. If I put it down or give it to someone else, it's loaded again.

Ed Ames
April 22, 2013, 11:56 PM
There are a lot of people who would criticize you for the condition of your brass. That ding in the rim, clearly visible around 12 o'clock, would send them into a tizzy. They would say the cartridge should've been replaced with an unblemished example before their gun was put up.

I'm not one.

I think you did OK. Yes, the gun was not ready to use, but it's a little rimfire. If your situation is so dire you need that RIGHT NOW you are probably in an irredeemably bad way. I assume you had the brass there as a cushion for dry firing, and the gun you keep loaded has a bit more oomph....

r1derbike
April 22, 2013, 11:58 PM
I pulled the mag on my xds to clear it, pulled-back the slide a bit to see if there was a round in the chamber, did not see one, did not see the raised chamber lever and deemed it cleared. My wife, who has much better vision than I, pointed-out there was a round in the chamber.

She has a sixth sense about things, I envy her insight, and trusted her, so I fully racked the slide, and out popped a round that I swore I did not see. The xds will fire with the magazine removed.

She saved my bacon this time, as I always point the weapon in a safe direction and release the striker as a last action, trigger locked back.

This prompted me to double-rack the slide with magazine removed to clear before pointing downrange and releasing the trigger/firing pin. The really scary thing about this, is that I ALWAYS double-rack the slide to make sure there is no chambered round; always, except once. Must have been in a hurry, distracted, whatever, no excuse. Even though the round would have discharged in a safe direction, what may have happened is not acceptable. The trigger reset is so short on the xds, I obviously didn't pull the slide far enough back to see the round, whether poor lighting, distraction, inattention, and not noticing the loaded chamber indicator, talking to my wife during what should have been a clearing ritual, it all stacked-up on the wrong side of the fence to create a dangerous situation. If I don't see daylight looking through the barrel from the breech (I do this every time now even though I've racked the last round), the gun is loaded.

Now, there is no exception to the clearing ritual. Be safe. My mistake(s) that day will not be repeated. As it only took a "what could have been" scenario to scare me to follow procedure, no distractions. It would scare anyone.

Ed Ames
April 23, 2013, 12:05 AM
Press checks (and chamber loaded flags) are to reassure you that there really is a round in the chamber in case you need it. They are a good practice and should be part of your safe gun handling.

They aren't how you unload a gun though. That's the point of them...they leave the gun loaded. That's why you use them...so the gun will still be ready to use after the check.

breakingcontact
April 23, 2013, 12:13 AM
Its all about being "in the moment", being there, 100%.

hovercat
April 23, 2013, 12:27 AM
Every firearm is always loaded. I will allow a little leeway if the bolt/barrel/slide is removed for cleaning. Still pointed in a direction where I am the only one in harms way.
This is my golden rule, and the kids were not allowed alone with a firearm until that idea is part of them. You can pull cartriges out of its behind all day long but the gun is still loaded. If you believe that deep in your soul, all the other safety rules are just part of #1.

r1derbike
April 23, 2013, 12:48 AM
Its all about being "in the moment", being there, 100%.Yep, wasn't 100 percent there. Distracted means dangerous.

I hope this story will prompt others to be careful, and follow safe handling.

r1derbike
April 23, 2013, 12:52 AM
Press checks (and chamber loaded flags) are to reassure you that there really is a round in the chamber in case you need it. They are a good practice and should be part of your safe gun handling.

They aren't how you unload a gun though. That's the point of them...they leave the gun loaded. That's why you use them...so the gun will still be ready to use after the check.I know that Ed, I used that method to see a round in the chamber just once, for a clear check, to determine if the round was in it. I didn't see it. In my mind, it was cleared, which it wasn't. Big no-no. Fortunately I didn't have to experience an unexpected discharge downrange because of my wife's keen eye.

DeadMoneyDrew
April 23, 2013, 01:01 AM
Heh. Seems I'm not the only one to have ever suffered a lapse in attention. :uhoh:

I assume you had the brass there as a cushion for dry firing, and the gun you keep loaded has a bit more oomph....


Mossberg 500a, so...just a wee bit more oomph, yes :eek:

Ed Ames
April 23, 2013, 01:02 AM
You press check when you intend to (or think you will) shoot soon and don't want to fumble around dropping the hammer on an empty chamber. If you didn't see brass you would rack the slide to chamber a round. The worst outcome is a perfectly good cartridge being ejected. I don't see where that's a big deal.

I guess you are saying you went to empty the gun but got derailed into making sure it was loaded...

r1derbike
April 23, 2013, 01:05 AM
You press check when you intend to (or think you will) shoot soon and don't want to fumble around dropping the hammer on an empty chamber. If you didn't see brass you would rack the slide to chamber a round. The worst outcome is a perfectly good cartridge being ejected. I don't see where that's a big deal.

I guess you are saying you went to empty the gun but got derailed into making sure it was loaded...
Something definitely was out of sync!:scrutiny:

rcmodel
April 23, 2013, 01:10 AM
All a press check proves is there is brass in the chamber.

It doesn't prove it is a loaded round, or if your extractor failed to pull out the last empty case.

It also, in all the excitement, can leave the gun out of battery so it won't fire a loaded round.
If in fact, it is one you looked at.

rc

Ed Ames
April 23, 2013, 01:18 AM
True. That's why some guns have cutouts or flags...you can get the benefits (and I agree those can be limited, but unless you have already been shooting or are in the habit of loading fired brass they are useful in context) without taking the gun out of battery.

Doesn't really change anything though. If you look in the cutout and don't see brass, cycle the action and check again.

Ignition Override
April 23, 2013, 02:36 AM
A guy who retired in the 90's from the company decided to clean his handgun: either a .357 or .44.

He died from the accidental injury about three days later in a hospital, which was probably in Mobile AL.
Ralph lived by the golf course in Point Clear, near the Grand Hotel.

blindhari
April 23, 2013, 03:06 AM
I was an Army armorer in the late 60s. Out of a class of 34 armorers trained at Ft Lee, three were shot and two of these were killed by idiots turning in rifles muzzle first THAT WERE NOT CLEARED. They were shot stateside in training. I am an old man now. I got old by sticking my little finger in every, and I do mean every, reciever following a visual check. Out of the safe, check, out of a holster for any reason, check, before and after cleaning/ dissambely, check. Any wepon handed to me will be cleared in front of me by the person handing it to me, then I will clear it upon acceptance and clear it again in the persons prescence before handing it back.
I have been at gunshows and been described as paranoid. So,,, I am paranoid.

blindhari

sota
April 23, 2013, 07:33 AM
paranoia is better than dead.

TRX
April 23, 2013, 07:56 AM
I once just barely stopped someone from "clearing" an open-bolt MAC-10. In a room full of people.

I concede the usefulness of the various "rules" of handling firearms. My Dad only taught me two as a child:

1) don't point a gun at something you don't intend to shoot
2) always treat a gun like it is loaded

I have half a dozen guns within a few steps of where I'm sitting. One, I know is ready to fire. Most of the others, I can't remember. It doesn't matter whether they're loaded or not; I treat them like they are, and I don't point them at things I don't want to put holes in...

I guess Dad's rules were more an "awareness" thing than a detailed checklist.

OilyPablo
April 23, 2013, 08:49 AM
I'm surprised you didn't see the spent casing when you were cleaning the gun.

Thanks for the wake up post. Seriously - the four rules do work.

scaatylobo
April 23, 2013, 08:49 AM
Guess I missed something.

That gun looks like it has an EXPENDED .22 rimfire round.

So while not properly unloaded,it is not "loaded" either.

OilyPablo
April 23, 2013, 08:55 AM
That gun looks like it has an EXPENDED .22 rimfire round.

OP did mention it, actually.

DeadMoneyDrew
April 23, 2013, 09:00 AM
Yeah, it was an expended shell, and I didn't clean the gun after my previous outing. But I swear to all high heaven that I checked and rechecked and rererererechecked the cylinder before putting the gun away. Guess not. :eek:

j1
April 23, 2013, 09:08 AM
Remember they do not put erasers on firearms.:neener:

smalls
April 23, 2013, 03:42 PM
I just leave all mine loaded, so there's no question when I pick one up, it either goes into a holster, or needs to be cleared.

But I only own 2 pistols, and their main role is carry/ HD.

JTHunter
April 23, 2013, 05:32 PM
Drew - it's good you found that round BUT, unless it was a mis-fire, there is a pit mark on that rim indicating it has been fired.
Was it an un-fired round or not?

DeadMoneyDrew
April 23, 2013, 07:17 PM
it had been fired. I was expecting the cylinder to be completely empty.

clutch
April 23, 2013, 07:24 PM
I bought a Colt/Umarex 1911-22 recently. It is good for the first 10 rounds but the last couple can be iffy.

Finding a round or rounds in the mag after slide lock has had me getting back into the habit of checking clear. Good running guns have allowed me to get sloppy.

It seems that the older one gets, the more stark reminders one encounters in daily life.

Clutch

THe Dove
April 23, 2013, 07:41 PM
I got old by sticking my little finger in every, and I do mean every, reciever following a visual check.

AMEN!

Thank You Blindhari......

The Dove

Ignition Override
April 23, 2013, 07:49 PM
DeadMoneyDrew:
Readers are to assume that nobody else uses, or has access to that gun?

DeadMoneyDrew
April 23, 2013, 09:52 PM
Correct. Only I have the key to the case. And I keep both the case and the key stashed away.

USAF_Vet
April 23, 2013, 10:29 PM
Remember they do not put erasers on firearms.:neener:
I'm sure someone will rush out and make a pic rail adapter so an eraser can be mounted to the front of an AR now.

Carl N. Brown
April 23, 2013, 10:44 PM
My rule 1. Treat all firearms with the respect due a lethal weapon, especially the unloaded ones.

twofifty
April 24, 2013, 12:23 AM
Thanks for posting Drew.

The circumstances in which this happened were a clear break in your usual shooting routine...you were rushing so as not to be bullied by range staff.

In my personal experience, breaches of normally well-adhered to firearms safe rules are most likely to happen when there is a change in routine or a distraction of some sort. This is when our mind and training go 'pfffft' and lo and behold someone gets swept, or a firearm is brought home with a live round in the chamber.

Sheepdog1968
April 24, 2013, 10:36 AM
Thanks for your honesty and reminder. What I also like about the four rules, is they have some level of redundancy built into them so that if you violate only one of the four, you are still ok. I know, we should never violate any of them.

MikeJackmin
April 24, 2013, 10:44 AM
Most people who have been around guns for any length of time have been surprised like this. That's OK, because the surprises are harmless if your habits are good.

bigfatdave
April 24, 2013, 10:27 PM
A lot of good comments on the subject of "gun handling deserves 100% attention",

ANY administrative gun handling should be done without distraction or multitasking whenever possible. If you can't devote full attention, perhaps the boomstick should go back on the table until you CAN (or back in the holster)

It takes perhpas 5 seconds to clear most guns, clear the time.

Bovice
April 25, 2013, 04:20 AM
I once just barely stopped someone from "clearing" an open-bolt MAC-10. In a room full of people.

I concede the usefulness of the various "rules" of handling firearms. My Dad only taught me two as a child:

1) don't point a gun at something you don't intend to shoot
2) always treat a gun like it is loaded

I have half a dozen guns within a few steps of where I'm sitting. One, I know is ready to fire. Most of the others, I can't remember. It doesn't matter whether they're loaded or not; I treat them like they are, and I don't point them at things I don't want to put holes in...

I guess Dad's rules were more an "awareness" thing than a detailed checklist.
I don't follow. It's open bolt, to clear it you remove the magazine. Am I missing something? It fires from an open bolt, so there's nothing in the chamber.

captmoto
April 25, 2013, 01:12 PM
In the small group (family) I hunted with, we did a quick look into open chambers whenever we got into vehicles to head out, move between hunting spots or head in at the end of the day. It seems a little paranoid but it was peace of mind.

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