I've written about handgun accidents from time to time on this blog, and they're definitely something we all want to avoid. The gun safety rules are designed to prevent gun accidents. And to help us absorb and utilize those rules Steven Bracken sent some very important advice, as follows:
The Four Continuous Rules of Gun Safety
In the firearm world, there are four “golden” rules of gun safety that act as a checklist with the implication is that if you check off each rule then as a firearm owner you are safe. This belief system is flawed and dangerous. Here’s why:
The four “golden” rules are as follows:
1) Treat all guns as if they are loaded.
2) Be aware of your muzzle and what is beyond.
3) Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target and you have made the conscious decision to shoot.
4) Be sure of your target.
These are four great rules that cover the basis of all firearms safety; however, they are not a simple check list. They must be a continuous process from the time you first handle your weapon until you are finished. After you check all four rules off, you still are not safe but must continually check each rule off as long as the weapon is in your hand.
The circumstances of handling a weapon are dynamic and change continually. Just because you checked off the four rules five minutes ago does not mean that you are safe now. These rules must be followed every time and second that you handle your weapon. It is attention intensive and can never be taken for granted.
Thanks Steven. That's good advice I hope we can all heed.
[Addendum.] Here's an example of an accident involving a Springfield XD, emailed from Brandon:
Well, I’m a statistic. I fired my Springfield XD-9 in the house while taking it apart, and in the process, burnt my hand because of the ported barrel. However, in my case, I didn’t actually have a round chambered in the firearm. The disassembly process of the XD is the exact same process as chambering and firing a round. Slide back, slide forward, squeeze trigger. I foolishly forgot to check and make sure no magazine was in the grip. I chambered the round while taking it apart, and didn’t notice the indicator flip up on the slide because my hand (the same one which was burnt and hit by chards of lead) was in the way. As I went to squeeze the trigger so as to move the slide off of the receiver, much to my surprise, the gun went off. Luckily no one but myself and the tile floor was hurt.
I’ve been around firearms my entire life and have been shooting them since I was little. I owned my first one at 14. I’m 20 now and still cannot believe that I did this. I’ve always respected firearms and the need for caution when dealing with them. I know the rules of firearm safety to a T. The “it could have been worse statements” don’t really mean anything at all. However, one thing is certain, it will never happen again.
Brandon followed up with this:
Also, keep in mind that I am not blaming Springfield or the XD-9 for the accident. The gun did exactly what I would expect it to do if a bullet was chambered. Sure, perhaps it wouldn't have happened if the XD had a different disassembly method, but the fact remains, I am at fault for not checking the firearm.
Thanks for sharing that, Brandon.
So here's the lesson we've learned: Whenever anyone handles a gun, the very first thing to do is check to see whether it's loaded. Do it every time. Concentrate on it.
Finally, I've been meaning to compile a list of links to items found at this weblog addressing accidental discharges and Glocks. Here it is, with the most recent on top:
March 14, 2006 - The Two Recent Accidental Glock Discharges, detailed;
March 09, 2006 - Accidental handgun discharges and Glock;
November 30, 2005 - Glock handguns -- another accidental discharge;
April 27, 2005 - Accidental police gun discharge - San Antonio;
April 11, 2004 - Are Glock handguns safe?;
and for an example of a lifesaving use of a Glock handgun,
October 08, 2003 - Bear killed with .40 caliber handgun - Alaska.
And for the popular video of the DEA agent accidentally shooting himself in the leg with a Glock in front of a class full of children, see it at Google VIdeo.