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Unplanned firearm discharge

This pistol has never gone off by itself. It has always required a trigger pull.
This pistol has never gone off by itself. It has always required a trigger pull.
Photo by Liston Matthews

"You will have an accidental discharge," said Mr. Weist, my Tennessee Handgun Carry Permit (HCP) instructor. "The only question is where is the gun pointed when that happens."

I had mine.

I had just finished a range session at Oak Ridge Sportsman's Association (ORSA). I cleared my ancient Ruger Standard Model .22, and pointed it at the ground in front of me, and downrange. I pressed the trigger to drop the hammer, and, listening for a click, I instead heard a loud BANG!

Kentucky State Representative Leslie Combs (D), of Pikeville, has had hers. According to The Blaze,

Democratic State Rep. Jeff Greer says he was in Combs’ office when the gun went off. He said it happened after she thought she had emptied the weapon.

This brings us back to the title of this article. Colleagues in the firearms community argue over the notion that it is either an accidental discharge or a negligent discharge. I view this as a distinction without a difference(po tay toe, po tah toe). I'll just use the term unplanned discharge. If it never happens to you, count your blessings, but if it does, following Jeff Cooper's FOUR RULES of gun safety should result only in property damage, a palpitating heart, and perhaps a little wounded pride:

  1. All firearms are always loaded.
  2. Never let the muzzle of a firearm point at anything you are not willing to destroy.
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger unless your sights are on the target.
  4. Be sure of your target and what is behind it.

If Rep. Combs had followed rule 1, she may have avoided the shot altogether. She apparently violated rule 3, because the firearm discharged unexpectedly. Perhaps she unwittingly adhered at least partially to Rule 2, as the bullet did not leave her office.

Make fun of her? Not Me. Remember, I had mine.

Have you had yours? Following the four rules, particularly rule 3, may keep it from happening. But if it does, the redundancy built into the rules should minimize damage, and leave all around you unharmed.

Be safe.


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A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences. Proverbs 22:3 (NLT)

Disclaimer: The information and ideas presented in this column are provided for informational purposes only. Firearms, like cars, kitchen knives and life itself all can be dangerous. You should get professional training as part of any plan to use firearms for any purpose. I have made a reasonable, good-faith effort to assure that the content of this column is accurate. I have no control over what you do, and specifically accept no responsibility for anything you do as a result of reading my columns. Any action or lack of action on your part is strictly your responsibility.


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