Many self-inflicted gunshot wounds are preventable, many are a result of negligence. Some can be really accidents, but most are the result of human error.
Know What You Are Getting Into
Having just finished up a Concealed Carry Instructor course we spend a good amount of time going over risk mitigation. How to set the tone for safety, how to observe for potential issues, but most of all how to prevent incidents in the first place. There is only so much you can do, but within that scope there is a lot. Many times I see a very lack luster attitude towards safety. If you come across this attitude be very cautious. We cannot afford to be cavalier; which really amounts to recklessness. Experience is a blessing, but it is also a curse. I can almost recount an incident for many of the common issues we see today. I’m not happy about the fact I can, but it serves a purpose.
Dark Case Studies
When I got back from my trip I literally had an email waiting detailing the death of an officer as a result of carrying concealed. Then, I get to work and learn of a fatality during a force on force event. These types of incidents happen a lot more than people realize. They may not touch your lives, but they can impact your future. In our course I talk about some case studies. Three of the case studies I had direct knowledge, meaning I either spoke with the victim, the instructor or the investigating officer. I try not to add more to my brief, but I could easily. These are all fairly recent with most going back no more than four years. We talk about how to prevent these types of incidents in the future, but studying what went wrong.
The Fire Pyramid
Four of the six cases all were a result of the trigger finger somehow manipulating the trigger causing the gun to discharge. Allow me to regress. For a self-inflicted gunshot wound to occur, three conditions must be in place. The gun must be loaded, the muzzle must be pointed at the body and the trigger must be manipulated. That’s it! There are no other reasons. I use as an example the fire triangle to help folks understand when one of these criterion is missing the self-inflicted GSW cannot occur, maybe I should caveat “should not” occur. When you consider this in your range evolutions it helps to reduce the possibilities of negligent discharges from students. You must be unapologetic with regards to safety. Ironically, the four safety rules we follow take into account the self-inflicted GSW Pyramid. In other words, we treat all guns as if they were loaded, always. We keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction, not at our body. Lastly, we keep our finger straight on home position until the sights are on target and you are ready to fire.
Stop The Insanity
It seems simple enough, but when we examine those case studies two or 50% of the incidents happened during the draw stroke. Meaning they shot themselves as they were drawing the gun from the holster. If we should not put our finger on the trigger until the sights are on target then how could this happen. Because there are some who promote prepping the trigger. Truthfully, I was one of them when I shot DA guns. In an effort to get on that long travel you start early. With today’s inventory being mostly made up of striker fired guns this is a dangerous trait to develop. Made more so within the industry by some promoting the idea you will be faster. Now, you are adding another dangerous element; stress. The problem is human nature. It is human nature to want to be fast. It is also human nature to be fallible. Combine these with a gun and it shouldn’t surprise people why we see these incidents. The bottom line, you are not gaining anything by “prepping” the trigger, you really are not. You might not like hearing that, but whatever perceived advantage you may think pales in comparison to the possibility of shooting yourself. It is a slippery slope. You say it is okay, but only when the gun is in the position. Then, it is okay when the gun is closer to the body in this position. Then, okay when the gun is coming out of the holster. Where do you draw the line?
I’ll bet you every one of those folks in the case study didn’t think they would shoot themselves seconds before they shot themselves. Prove me wrong.