I feel as though there has been a rash of “accidental” shootings at public gun ranges lately. I use the term accidental because that’s how the news is reporting the incident, but the word negligent maybe more appropriate.

Learn them, live them!

Why don’t we start by reminding everyone of the rules for handling firearms. These are pretty much universal, but apparently not ingrained into enough people who handle firearms.

  1. All guns are always loaded
  2. Maintain muzzle discipline at all times
  3. Maintain a straight trigger finger until the decision to fire and sights are on target
  4. Manipulate the safeties at all times
  5. Ensure positive target identification

One rule to rule them all

While there are several different versions, these are the ones that we brief in our classes as well as the safety violations for failure to do right. No matter the situation, the most important rule in my opinion is number two, maintain muzzle discipline at all times. I cannot emphasize that enough if it is not properly engrained in people’s head from an early age how it can lead to major problems down the road. I freak out when I cover myself with a muzzle by accident so you an imagine when someone does it on purpose. It’s a major deal and I have had to walk off the range or shoot house on more than one occasion to let my staff handle the situation because I was in the red. You just don’t break that rule, period!

Nobody is above the law

I also think it is naive that just because they wear a uniform you assume they are competent. That might sting a little bit, but safety is non-negotiable and everyone’s responsibility and being honest is more important. While I have plenty of safety violations by civilians, I have a fair amount from uniformed personnel. My reaction is the same, however I hold our uniform personnel to a higher standards because I know they have been exposed to rules and safety. Yet, it either doesn’t soak in or isn’t valued as important enough to follow. Both mistakes can and have lead to injury and deaths. The thing about firearms accidents is they happen literally at 1,100fps. That means, once your brain sends the signal to your finger to pull the trigger, that bullet is leaving the barrel at pretty fast speeds. There is nothing you can do to stop it from happening at that point, which is why muzzle discipline is so important.

Be prepared

Now, I do know that accidents do happen. You may be on the range when one of these accidents occurs and my hope is that you have a basic understanding of first aide as it relates to gunshot wounds. If you participate in firearms training and you don’t have a “blowout” kit you should seriously consider first purchasing one and second learning how to use the contents. Being the victim of a gunshot wound is not the time to learn. Training in advance is the key and hopefully even more incentive to not just know the rules I explained earlier, but to live them. Would I go so far as to say if you don’t have a med-kit you have no business training, I’m seriously thinking that is what we need to require. If it helps to keep safety in mind then I don’t see it as a bad thing and having the tools on hand will only aide at that critical moment.

Don’t make the mistake in thinking you are immune to “accidents”. Nobody is immune, there have been guys with literally thousands of free fall jumps who died as a result of failure to follow the rules. Don’t be that guy…

There is no such thing as accident; it is fate misnamed. Napoleon Bonaparte, French Military Political Leader

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