When It Goes “BANG”…But Not When You Wanted It To!

The BANG We Never Want To Hear.

The term we often use when a firearm discharges unintentionally is “accidental discharge”.  In most cases, a more accurate term would be “negligent discharge” as a safety rule was neglected or forgotten or worse yet, ignored.  Those who are involved in firearms instruction and training hear stories about or witness discharges that were not intended.  In the courses I’m involved in, be they NRA, Utah CFP, Armed Officer or BSA, one principal is emphasized.  When the firearm discharges, (goes Bang) intentionally or not, usually a human is involved and at some point safety was bypassed.  An example I use is the “Ignorance and Carelessness” statements heard after a discharge occurs.  “I didn’t know it was loaded,” reflects the person’s lack of knowledge on how the firearm works and how to check if rounds are present and chambered.  “It went off by itself,” shows that most of the time the person pulled the trigger but was not conscious of the fact or they don’t want to own up to what they did; pull the trigger. On a few rare occasions, the “Bang”  is attributed to a mechanical failure that led to the discharge.

In observing new firearms handlers, their trigger finger automatically falls on the trigger.  That is due to the way the firearm is designed; the pointer or forefinger is aligned with the trigger and naturally goes to the face of the trigger.  The command to “Keep the finger straight” gets frequently repeated.  In working for the local Boy Scout Council at summer and short-term camps, I would remind the boys and others regularly to keep their finger off the trigger when not actually firing.  One time I said, “If you finger is on the trigger, you owe me a soda pop from the trading post!”  I gave up after a half hour as I would have had GALLONS to consume!  It did get the point across.

3 Incidents Where The BANG Could Have Been Avoided.

Here follows three recent incidents where there was a discharge (Bang) and what the cause was determined to be.

Case One:  A female employee of a local armed security company had contacted me to do her state law-mandated ongoing training, which her company, according to her statements, had not been doing.  I proceeded with the state required materials, classroom and then range qualification.  She was using a Smith and Wesson M&P semi-auto pistol.  Dry practice revealed little training had been received from her company.  This was one of the reasons she had requested the training from me.  Her fundamentals were fair, and with coac

hing, improved nicely.  In timed fire, she was a bit slow in presentation from the holster, but she was safe and met the state-required score.  Later she asked to attend another scheduled on-going training taught by my partner and me.  She was on my training partners side of the range and during a timed fire, drew and fired too fast.  My partner yelled for me to check him for holes as he was asking if she was all right.  No leaks were found, but a hole was discovered in his shirttail.  It shook the woman up so much that she left the range, very distressed about the “near wounding” of her instructor.  Later she apologized, in tears and still very upset.  We did not see her after that and do not know how she is fairing or if she still works in armed security. That is certainly a “bang” you don’t want to be a part of.

Cause of Discharge: Finger on the trigger in the holster during presentation.  I do not know if the stress of the timed string of fire, or the distractions of several people shooting caused her to move too fast.

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