by Gun Club of America Member
Robert Garr

In the 35 years I worked in power stations, it was pounded into our heads that “there’s no such thing as an accident,  just failures to adhere to safety protocols “. I always took exception to that and thought of it as a way to always put the blame on the employees but never being the fault of the employer, or an equipment manufacturer. There’s always a scenario where an accident can occur.  Always!

But in the case of firearms that is rarely, if ever the case. And ultimately it is YOU who is responsible for the condition of the firearm you are holding,  no one else. But even taking all the right steps and being cautious, an A.D can occur.

Case in point. I am very fortunate to not have had an A.D in my nearly 45+ years being around firearms. But due to an incident nearly 25 years ago I doubled down on my efforts to always be gun safe and A.D free.

I had spent the day plinking with one of my favorite. 22’s, a Winchester 62 pump. I love this gun! She’s not really much to look at, but man can she shoot!  An added bonus is that the 62 is a split receiver style of take down rifle. So after the days shooting of nearly 350 rounds, of various makes and styles,  I cleared the action and brought her inside. I was visiting relatives in Virginia and as such was bunking in a spare bedroom. That evening I set up in the bedroom to clean the old 62. I did what I  have done dozens of times before. Opened the action, checked the chamber and the magazine. Did the take down, cleaned the bore from the breach till my patches were clean. Ran a lightly oiled patch through the bore. Wiped her down inside and out. Then put her back together.  Then I cycled the action half a dozen times alternating lowering the hammer with my thumb and dry firing.

Now ready to put her back in the gunny sack, I cycled the action open, preparing to then cycle it closed and dry fire one last time as I aimed at a picture on the wall. And as I was about to close the action I saw a glint of brass in the end of the mag tube! I lowered the rifle to look inside the action and was overcome with the most frightening cold chill and a weakness in my knees. I was looking at a CCI MINI MAG round that would have happily gone into the chamber  and fired!

How the heck could that be? After the checks, the cleaning, the inspection,  the cycling of the action,  the dry firing, how? HOW??? Well inspection revealed that due to wax, or crud, or dirt, or something. This round got held up in the magazine tube, and that even with spring tension from the magazine tubes follower it remained held inside the tube. And after all the “movement “of the action during cleaning, this round chose this moment to free itself and move into position ready to be fired.  At a picture on a  wall which my or may not have been adjacent to an occupied room. Which doesn’t really matter  as it would have been BAD regardless of the circumstances.

Well, after clearing the rifle, again. I  make it a point now to always make sure the mag tube is empty. I don’t know how I overlooked not seeing the mag tubes follower, perhaps not seeing a round there satisfied my brain into thinking all was O.K. But I am just so glad that I was able to pick up that glint of brass before something irreversible happened.

This reinforced my goal to always put safety first and to never assume a gun is not loaded. As this proved, even checking 2, or 3 or more times. NEVER TAKE THINGS FOR GRANTED,  AND ALWAYS,  ALWAYS, TREAT EVERY GUN ALL THE TIME AS IF IT IS LOADED. Adhering to this may just saveoyou untold mountains of  grief. My job was right about one thing , safety is a perpetual state of mind.

Bob G

6 Responses to The dreaded ACCIDENTAL DISCHARGE.

  1. Excellent closing paragraph, sir. My dad used to tell us even if you just saw someone check the firearm you check it for yourself! And even if you just checked it CHECK AGAIN! His mantra was it’s always the “unloaded gun” that kills somebody. In the words of my childhood hunter’s ed instructor, “Yall make SURE ya unload ya DADGUM GUN!!!”

    “Safety is a perpetual state of mind”, I like that. Thanks for the article.

  2. Thanks for the article, great to be reminded occaaionaly to not grow complacement. Also appreciate the courage it takes to admit you screwed up and allow us to hopefully learn from your mistake

  3. Great article!

    Got bitten myself once when cleaning a gun — pulled trigger, magazine was empty, chamber was not. Fortunately, I was saved from injury by rule 2 below. The .32 round struck and shattered the wooden block the held punches on my bench. I glued that block back together and still keep it on the bench as a reminder of my momentary stupidity. Now I always follow the three rules:
    1. All guns are loaded until you have personally verified that they are not — and it never hurts to check twice.
    2. Never point a gun (loaded or not) at anything you aren’t willing to shoot.
    3. Never shoot a gun at anything you aren’t willing to kill or destroy.

  4. My dad had that exact same rifle. Not once but TWICE after dispatching some varmint and after un-loading and cleaning the rifle then re-assembling it he aimed at the kitchen ceiling and shot a hole in the plaster!! There was still a round stuck in the action somewhere. Fortunately, the bullets lodged in the ceiling or attic rafter and no one got hurt. I never forgot that lesson! Always, always check the weapon twice, three times to see and confirm it is unloaded and never, NEVER point any weapon at something you don’t want to shoot.

  5. My first and hopefully last ND- I shot a hole thru a gun case while pulling an ar15 out of it. No magazine in the gun, just a round chambered and the gun cocked, must have left the range with out thoroughly clearing the gun. Scared the hell out of me, never did find where the round ended up in my workshop. That was a few years back, the case remains for all to see, and keep reminding me, and I now never feel foolish checking, double-checking, and still firing in a safe direction, regardless!

  6. I guess a great many of us have learned that lesson the hard way. I once shot a .22 round through the floor of an upstairs room and luckily it landed safely in a sack of flour.