Accidental Discharge

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They say it eventually happens to everyone. The only hope being that, when it does, nobody gets hurt. I am speaking about an accidental discharge of a firearm. We've all read those news articles. People cleaning their guns (seriously, cleaning a LOADED firearm?), Plaxico Burress...the news is rife with stories of accidental discharges. You can go on YouTube if you'd like to see what an accidental discharge looks like, or what the results of an accidental discharge can be. Needless to say, it's not the thing one would want to advertise. I consider YouTube videos on the subject to me more like PSAs than anything else.

Well, having been around guns since the age of 15 and being a firearms owner for more than 20 years, I thought I'd heard all of the stories and learned my lessons from others' mistakes, so it could never happen to me. Well...

I have a gun vault that is both keyed and coded with a four button electronic lock that I keep at my bedside for home security. I have always kept a pistol at my bedside for as long as I've owned one; no sense in having a weapon for home protection if you can't reach it, right? Over the past few months I have been on a firearms kick. I sold one pistol to purchase a new one and bought a new rifle as well. So I have been quite involved in both the research of the particular items I was considering as well as updating myself on information relevant to the sport. One of the things I took the time to do was take a Firearms Safety Training Course. So I am not one to rest on my laurels and go on what I already know. I strive to always learn. "Learn something new every day;" my mantra.

Accidental Discharge - Shooter - photo12-843.jpg

Given the recent spate of local break-ins, I've taken home security a bit more seriously. I decided to take the step of actually inserting a loaded magazine in my home defense weapon. Given the amount of time it takes to slap the magazine in and rack the slide back to load a round, I thought it best to take at least one of those steps away from the process in the event of an emergency. Also considering that it is a completely locked storage gun vault, there is NEVER going to be ANYONE that would have access to this pistol and have some sort of an accident. Needless to say, I felt confident.

Now what I forgot to keep in mind is the fact that I'm a very touchy feely guy. I prefer to learn hands-on rather than from a book. Remember that new pistol I mentioned earlier? It's a Sig Sauer P229R, and it's got their SRT - or Short Reset Trigger - installed from the factory. Basically what it does is allow the weapon's trigger to reset with a shorter release, so your follow up shots will require less of a release and pull on the trigger. So I set out to learn just how much of a difference it was from the factory trigger.
Accidental Discharge - Shooter - photo23-844.jpg

I don't have to point out that there is a video on how to make videos on YouTube, so of course there's a video on the differences between the two styles of trigger mechanisms available for all to see. The video was indeed quite informative and so my next step was to check out MY Sig and verify for myself that my trigger was indeed an SRT. So off I went to my trusty Winchester gun vault. This was when I made my two HUGE mistakes: 1) forgetting that I now keep a loaded magazine in my gun and 2) neglecting to check to make sure that the gun was clear. I pulled the trigger to drop the hammer. This was not the BIG problem you see, because I do NOT keep one in the chamber. Now, had I done THAT there would have already been a hole in my wall...but back to the trigger. I kept the trigger back so as to capture it in single action and then I proceeded to rack the slide. Here's where it gets surreal. I noticed that as I racked the slide back it felt a bit odd, in fact, a bullet just loaded into the chamber. Still keeping the trigger pulled, I gasped and realized that I now had a loaded gun in my hand. I froze, mouth agape, thinking momentarily about what to do to disarm this weapon. It was then that I promptly dropped the loaded magazine. Now keep in mind the Sig P-series firearms DO NOT have a magazine disconnect so this pistol was still HOT with one in the pipe. I then proceeded to rack the slide back and ejected the live round from the chamber. I had just watched four videos on YouTube of accidental discharges; don't even try to tell me it almost happened to me...but it did.

It was then that I realized the true scope of what happened; that I almost had an accidental discharge. And in my opinion it was just as bad. The next few hours were spent reliving those moments. Almost shot a hole through my guitars, my flat screen TV, and who knows what else after it would have exited my house. Plus what about all the flack I would have gotten from local LE or hurt someone?
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So needless to say, I no longer keep a loaded magazine in my pistol, not at least until I surpass the learning curve with this firearm and have NO REASON to ever pull it out unless I plan on using it or taking it to the range.

Lesson learned.

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October 26, 2012  •  06:52 PM
Guess I must be really nuts cause I keep my PT145 loaded and a round chambered with just the safety on. Of course knowing this is how I keep it, I always handle as such. If I need to use it in an emergency, it will be safety off, acquire intended target, pull trigger, and continue pulling trigger until the threat is no longer a threat or I need to change magazines. The only other times I take my gun out is to practice drawing and shooting it or to clean it. But like you said, it can and does happen. A loaded gun should never be handled or stored carelessly.
October 26, 2012  •  08:28 PM
I keep my Ruger P95 loaded with the decocker on fire. The P95 in double action is about the same as a revolver. I have a hard time firing it with one hand in double action. I do put all my guns in the safe when we have company of any kind. Even trained adults are capable of making mistakes in a foreign environment.
October 26, 2012  •  10:47 PM
Most Negligent discharges I've heard about are situations just like this where a person decides to change the condition of an SD weapon and forgets they have done so.

Muscle memory will bite you in the ass when it comes to gun handling. Decide how your going to store or carry your SD platform and stick with in.

Personally, I've always carried and stored my SD guns in conditon 1. After all, I'm not the Government so I have no need for. $600 hammer.

Every SD gun is ALWAYS loaded "condition 1" all the time. Do it this way any you'll never treat it as though it's empty.

You'll also save on rotating your SD load due to setback.

Glad you did not perforate them guitars.

October 27, 2012  •  07:59 PM
You clocked it 100%. for so long I have kept them unloaded. Much better keeping them that way. And them geetars would have bore the brunt of my stupidity, which of course is the best case scenario, given that someone may have been hurt.
October 29, 2012  •  11:48 AM
There are no "accidents", only negligence. Never should you ever just pick up a firearm and pull the trigger even if you "always" store it without a round in the chamber or without a magazine. Every firearm should be treated as loaded and the first thing you do EVERY TIME you pick up a firearm should be to observe the status of that weapon and treat it as it was ready to rock. Period.
November 2, 2012  •  11:27 AM
Some of us just have to learn lessons the hard way; myself included. With something this serious, it takes one and only any incident(or near incident)of this kind for the lesson to be learned for life.
November 2, 2012  •  06:41 PM
Close one dude, glad you caught it in time.
November 4, 2012  •  01:42 PM
Love this website, and generally love the articles. This one however, I don't know. First thing you did wrong was not keep your gun loaded to begin with. You trained yourself to treat guns as if they were unloaded. First rule of firearms: ALWAYS TREAT GUNS AS IF THEY ARE LOADED. Didn't you say you went through gun safety classes? I would say most accidental discharges come from people who have trained themselves to think their guns are unloaded, then forget they have loaded them. Got a gun for safety? KEEP IT LOADED! Sorry for raking you over the coals, but I think you deserve it for this.
November 4, 2012  •  06:19 PM
@merten9 You took the words right out of my mouth. This article says newbie to me!!! Not someone that has handled weapons since 15. Obviously, whoever taught him, was no expert himself. I suggest he retake ALL classes again and to learn the 4 rules of firearms..............
November 6, 2012  •  12:59 AM
People are killed by unloaded guns every day. Rule 1, every gun is always considered loaded.Rule 2, when in doubt see rule 1.
November 24, 2012  •  04:41 AM
I keep my 1911 cocked and locked and in the gun safe on my burrow. I almost had an accidental discharge with my Xds 45 acp. Went to field strip it. As most autos you have to pull the trigger to be able too pull the slideback went to pull the trigger saw the chamber indicater saw it was ingaged got myself that was a close one.? I never clean my weapons when anybody's home,drinking. I will start to when my boys are old enough.It becomes dangerous when you become complacent our too comfortable with firearms I've been around them my whole life as a kid
military etc.because of my comfortableness our lazy ness could have shot a hole through something our someone. Number one rule treat every firearm as it were loaded.Just my two sense.
November 24, 2012  •  04:46 AM
When I was reading my post I made a mistake.I meant to say "I will start teaching my boys gun safety when they are old enough not when people are home our drinking. Just thought I would clear that up before I got a bunch of response's.I appoligize.
November 24, 2012  •  07:48 PM
Taurus PT1911. Under my pillow, magazine full, thumb safety off. Have grandkids all the time-3 and 6 years old. They know it's there and don't touch it. When they are old enough to be able to rack the slide and chamber a round I will have already taught them to shoot a .22 better than myself. Can't understand why with the true 1911 format there is any reason to have one in the pipe, especially with children around? When a perp hears that 1911 slide rack open and closed in the pitch black of night only a model 870 pump shotgun could be more intimidating.
The sound of that racking action will be the only sound they hear until the muzzle blast. Nuff said!
November 27, 2012  •  02:38 PM
The pistol of course is great for in home defense with close range targets. In a perfect world an automatic would never jam but the truth is there are more possibilities of malfunction with an automatic pistol. Care & maintenance are so crucial! I keep a revolver with my automatic since nothing is more reliable than a revolver or a short barreled shotgun (dbl barrel breach load) with a dab of 3&1 oil to help coax the empties out quickly. Often the sound of a 10-12 gauge in CQ will deter any further need for action.
With the absence of law enforcement who knows what scenarios may arise? Try to keep a full tank of gas ,and I also keep a 6 gallon safety can w/spout . I'll use it after 5-6 weeks and refill with fresh hightest. I have friends in rural cabins . Strength in numbers ! One may incur roving gangs of armed thugs out scavenging. Again the display of my 30 rd clips may deter .
I sound like I'm preaching to the choir but when 2 of 3 shifts of patrols are laid off to me that's a red flag . The boy scout motto "BE PREPARED" rings true!
November 27, 2012  •  02:40 PM
Oppps, wrong thread! LMAO
November 27, 2012  •  02:57 PM
To wander off the thread again, what kind of guitars do you have? I graduated from G.I.T. as a kid. I had a free year since I was skipped over the 8th grade. I'm in the middle of a JEM - DIY project
November 27, 2012  •  03:18 PM

All are lefties. My electrics are all Fender Strats: 1965 small headstock (the neck date is Jan 65), 1992 Am Standard and a Candy Apple Red 2007 Custom Shop Closet Classic 1960 or 61. For acoustics, I have a 1996 Martin D16TL An 1968 Gianini Model 6 and some old German 6 string that I am still trying to figure out what it is; there are labels on it that date back to 1854 and 1914.
December 3, 2012  •  11:38 AM
Ok this has got to be hands down the dumbest article I have read in a while. You make a point of slamming a guy for cleaning a loaded firearm when you yourself have apparently by dumb luck never had a ND. Even my own which are ALWAYS carried condition 1 no matter where they are stored are check for empty before I start any dry fire/trigger reset drills. I won't even trust my best friend (who I regularly shoot and reload with) to tell me the weapon he handed me is safe. I check it myself and he does the same.
You did not stick to the 1st rule of gun ownership and almost payed the price with a ND. Congratulations for not actually firing the gun off that shows at least skill in the handling of firearms. However, ALWAYS TREAT EVERY GUN AS IF IT IS LOADED UNTIL YOU PHYSICALLY HAVE VERIFIED THAT IT'S NOT! When in doubt or if you walk away from the gun CHECK IT AGAIN before proceeding. Follow these rules and what scared you in this article will NEVER happen again. Become complacent as you admittedly were and it will happen again.
Like I tell my daughters: IT'S ALWAYS LOADED, IT'S ALWAYS LOADED, IT'S ALWAYS LOADED! Unload before proceeding. They are 11 and 13, I do not presume that if I am not there they can rely on ANYONE else for their safety. I teach them to defend themselves.
December 3, 2012  •  01:15 PM
Holy crap! You all must be perfect! Has anyone on this forum EVER acted without forethought or made a mistake and had balls enough to admit that mistake publicly to prevent someone else from making the same mistake? SHEESH!

I have never seen so many self righteous people assembled in one place, huddled and ready to hurl pernicious accusations and insults as I have seen right here.

The idea here was to openly admit that I DID make a mistake, in the hopes that others will learn. So glad I opened up to share my lack of perfection with a group that thinks they are far better a person than I am.

If somebody took something away from my article OTHER than: that they think I am a neophyte who is obviously b^ll$#!tting when I said that I have been handling firearms since 15, and I must be new level of idiot for making a HUGE mistake that THEY would NEVER MAKE in their entire adult lives; I sure as hell would love to read that.

Way to alienate, people.
December 6, 2012  •  10:51 AM
I get the fact that you were admitting a mistake. For that, I salute you. What the article did not state, and what I felt needed to be addressed, was that what you felt was the lesson learned, wasn't the lesson you should have taken away from this. That lesson was, of course, was to treat all guns as being loaded regardless of anything else. Admitting a mistake would have been fine, but you didn't reiterate that the assumption should always be the gun is loaded. If you had done that, I severely doubt you would have gotten as much flack over the article as you did. Also the article would have had a much better punch. It seemed to end on a vague note of "well maybe I need some more training with this gun". And it would give others who read it later a chance to learn the correct lesson from it, especially if they don't know.
December 6, 2012  •  10:53 AM

Well said..
December 9, 2012  •  11:00 AM
AD's come in all shapes & sizes. I had one early on in my career but, luckily, it was downrange and put no one at risk, except me. My S&W 19-3 went rogue on me and locked up with the hammer back and the trigger pulled over a live round. I was in the strip mines with no one around for miles with a gun that was too dangerous to take anywhere until the situation was resolved. To make a long story short, I had tried everything I could to safe the gun when I decided to pull the trigger one more time. The resulting cylinder-gap flash from the gun going off caught my left index finger where I had been cradling the gun trying to get the cylinder open and left a permanent tattoo as a reminder Had I not had the gun pointed in a safe direction...well, I hate to think about the consequences. Always, always check each and every gun every time you pick one up, even if you just put it down and pick it up again. This may seem trite, but...better safe than sorry.
December 16, 2012  •  05:59 PM
There is probably not one of us here that has been around weapons all of our life that hasn't had an incident of sorts. And you have the utmost respect for sharing yours. People learn also from others situations. The important point being anytime you change the norm Murphy is hiding around the corner and it is easier for things to happen. I do not have little children around the house and when I have I secure my pistol before their arrival. But I have two completely loaded weapons in my night stand drawer with flashlights and extra mags and my wife has her pistol in her night stand. They always have the mags in them and one in the chamber. But I never change the set up! All are in holsters that protect the trigger until they are removed from the drawer to eliminate accidentally getting a finger on the trigger until I ready.
Thanks again for sharing!

December 16, 2012  •  09:23 PM

Amen. Thanks, and this was the case here. And of course my primary mistake was neglecting rule number one, which is as we all know that unless you see the chamber, assume it's loaded.
December 30, 2012  •  01:34 PM
Here we go!!!!. No one is perfect I admitted a screw up. I learned from it I handle firearms everyday. Like a previous person posted before check your weapon even if you walk away and come back five min later. Even if I hand my weapon to somebody else to check it out I expect them to clear the weapon and when he hands it back to me I do the same. It seems ridiculous to non gun owners but once it becomes habit you won't have unwanted discharges. But respect to all the perfect gun owners for never making a mistake. I don't believe you. A man who can't admitted a mistake is not a man as far as Iam concerned.
January 22, 2013  •  02:50 PM
I have only done so 2 times but with the same POS gun . 1st time almost shot my foot . I had just bought this old H&R sportsman .22 top break . 1st time I pulled the hammer back to cock it it failed to catch , firing into the ground very close to my foot .
2nd time was in the garage I was messing with it , pulled the hammer back knowing it would not stay but had no intentions of letting it go , BUT it got away from me . I sold it and will never pick that gun up again or have another like it . It now sits in my neighbors tool box
January 28, 2013  •  03:09 PM
I have done ATON of reading on here and I agree people just tear people apart for asking questions sharing a story it's pretty ridiculous! Now I AM A NEWBIE and I have said time and time again I am going to learn, read and take any helpful knowledge I can get and I will tell you somehow someway some mrknowitall ALWAYS comes along thinking he is mr perfect?? Never a mistake in his life. I would like to say thank you for sharing your story because I for one have learned from it and I will take something away from your close call so thank you. Oh and by the way 2 great people that I have NEVER met and are answering my question with out being a holes are TACKLEBERRY1 and FUPUK. I'm sure there are a few more but these guys don't treat me like some dumb ass newbie that doesn't care about anything. They seem to know I want to learn and help so thanks guys
January 28, 2013  •  03:17 PM
Truth being told you do need a thick skin here on FTF, people are quite opinionated. You did get my point, and I thank you for your comment...

April 18, 2013  •  04:30 AM
May I edit your order of gun rules? Number one rule is ALWAYS keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction (considering ricochets, thin walls, etc.). That way even if there is a negligent discharge there's no harm other than dirty personal laundry.