Negligent discharge. As one member pointed out in a related thread, there is a legal distinction between negligent and accidental discharge.
I would not dispute that distinction. But I find the word negligent to be more descriptive of the common factor among most reports of unintended discharges.
1 a : marked by or given to neglect especially habitually or culpably
b : failing to exercise the care expected of a reasonably prudent person in like circumstances;
2: marked by a carelessly easy manner.
The definition in Websters describes the common conditions that lead to the subject of this thread. In particular, 1b and 2 clearly define the error committed by many, possibly most, people who have caused a negligent discharge. Complacency in a habitual action (a carelessly easy manner) causes a person to fail to exercise the care expected of a reasonably prudent person in like circumstance.
I am ashamed to admit that I am among that group.
Recently I was cleaning my new revolver after a trip to the range. After cleaning, I did some dry fire practice to acclimate myself to the long heavy trigger pull. I was sitting on the floor in my living room watching a hockey game. As I practiced, I would take aim on a small object with a solid backstop behind it and proceed to practice as smooth a squeeze as I can do. After many repetitions, I reloaded the gun. I set it down and proceeded to clean my carry gun, which was also used at the range. Finishing that, while watching hockey, I reholstered my carry gun and continued to watch the game. Between periods, I resumed my dry fire practice… only it wasn’t as dry as I had hoped.
A 357 Magnum bullet struck the small round knob on the door of my entertainment center about 3 yards away. It penetrated the door frame and stopped in the middle of some old photos that were in a box behind the door. My best estimate is that the bullet passed about 12 inches above my toes as my legs were extended along the floor in my sitting position. It struck about 1 inch to the right of the glass door and about 2-3 inches to the left of my TV.
I was stunned and my ears were ringing very badly. I could not hear my son’s first call to see if I was OK. After several seconds, I could hear him call and responded. He was not sure if I had just shot myself or if someone else had shot me. He was getting his gun to come see what needed doing when I responded. My ears are still ringing slightly and the event occurred 2 days ago.
Besides the injury to my entertainment center and the ringing in my ears, I have also taken a hit in my self-confidence. I will continue to carry every day. I will continue to practice at the range and shoot IDPA matches when I can. I don’t know how to explain it, but something feels different in my head or my heart. I’m working on forgiving myself. Hopefully when I get that done my head and heart will start feeling right again.
How many mistakes did I make? I can see several. I imagine you all can see several also. Here are the main lessons learned for me:
1. Every single time I pick up a gun, I must check to see if it is loaded.
2. Every time I load a gun, I must either holster it or put it in my lockbox. (My policy is all my guns in storage are loaded and ready if needed.)
3. Dry fire practice must be a focused activity, not something to be multitasked. Distracted practice does not accomplish anything.
4. Dry fire should be done in a room with ABSOLUTELY NO AMMO of any caliber in it.
Did I get anything right? I did manage to choose my aiming point for dry fire in a safe direction. I did recognize how huge an error I made and am trying to learn from it. Maybe I can even help someone else to break their complacency with this thread.