Hello everybody. Gunny Mac here. I hope today finds you safe and sound and locked and loaded.
The folks at Allison Arms wanted me to discuss a time when I was in the military and a gun safety issue came up. We often think of people who are, or have been, in the military as weapons experts. Believe me, there is nothing further from the truth. Yes, we have had more exposure and experience in handling guns in a variety of situations. And yes, service in the military can be an excellent foundation for a safe and healthy gun ownership experience. But, believe me, things happen, and here is such an example.
The only significant weapons issue I ever witnessed personally was a negligent discharge of an old Colt M1911 .45. In the mid 80s I was stationed at Naval Air station Bermuda, West Indies at the Marine barracks. Among other responsibilities, we guarded a weapons depot (which may or may not have contained nuclear weapons), and an aircraft capable of communicating with deeply submerged submarines for nuclear missile deployment. Shift changes were every 12 hours and always monitored by the Corporal of the guard. Corporal of the guard is the guy or gal that goes out and checks on individual posts on a routine basis, posts and relieves guards, and generally monitors activities on the gates and at other locations. At that time, I was Sergeant of the guard and responsible for the entire crew on that shift. On one occasion (as a matter of fact, I believe it was a Friday payday, so everybody had the weekend on their minds) the off-going Corporal of the guard came in at the noon changeover and, while outside at the clearing barrel, he failed to properly inspect his sentry’s weapon prior to test firing to make sure the chamber was empty and, needless to say, a bullet went into the barrel. Normal protocol calls for the sentry to draw his weapon, pull the slide to the rear, drop the magazine, raise the weapon to inspect the chamber, let the slide “go home”, then pull the trigger to let the hammer go home, verifying there was no round in the chamber. Well, needless to say, somewhere in that process the sentry failed to take one of the steps necessary to ensure a complete safe weapon, and the Corporal of the guard failed to do the same. The result of course was the negligent discharge.
If you remember from my last article, there is no such thing as an accidental discharge. Something like what happened above is only because the shooter, or in this case the shooter and his supervisor, failed to follow procedure. Obviously in a situation like that procedures are going to be more stringent and more dictated as to what happens in what order. We as civilian gun owners need to maintain at the very least a mental checklist, similar to what the Marines above should have followed that day when coming off post. In our minds we need to know and remember that you always treat a weapon as if it is loaded and ready to shoot. Some things to remember of course is always be mindful of whether or not there is a magazine in the magazine well, or if there is a round in the firing chamber. Next is one point that I always stressed to anyone I'm teaching: keep your finger off the trigger unless you are fully ready to engage, or for whatever reason you are certain you will engage a dangerous threat. More notably, a life threatening danger. That's another topic for another article: what is considered authorized deadly force. But never put your finger on the trigger unless you fully intend to engage. That split second that it takes to slip your finger down onto the trigger and fire your weapon is so negligible that I personally, and I think most instructors, would recommend this technique. This prevents you from falling down or tripping and stumbling and somehow negligently discharging your weapon and either hurting a bystander, yourself or giving away the element of surprise. I say negligent because again, you should have kept your finger off the trigger and been more aware of your surroundings.
Another important task is, obviously, safeguarding your weapon. Never leave it out where children or even other adults with no training have access to it. Frankly I've seen 8-year olds with better weapon handling skills and techniques than 40-year olds. Simply because experience is more a matter of practice and expertise than chronology.
You guys takes care of yourself. I want to thank www.GetAllisonArms.com for allowing us to post here. Feel free to provide any constructive feedback or any experiences you may have had where a negligent weapon handling situation occurred.
Take care, stay safe, stay locked and loaded.
A collection of wise advise, common sense and just plan old education goodness...
W. K McDaniel
Gunnery Sergeant, USMC (ret.)
Ben Posey - President
HM1(SW), MBA, LSSBB,
Arms Dealer, US Navy (ret.)
Fellow Hunter Enthusiast