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

Case Two:  An armored car guard was clearing his Smith &Wesson M&P semi-auto pistol in the company’s clearing barrel at his terminal.  Standard operating procedure (SOP) is to point the firearm in the clearing barrel during loading and unloading, be it a revolver or semi-auto.  He experienced what he described as a “slam-fire” as he released the slide after clearing the chambered round; meaning, as the slide returned to the forward position, he experienced the “Bang” you don’t want to experience.  The bullet was contained in the clearing barrel, no injury occurred, (thank heavens) but something was not right about the discharge.  How did a second cartridge get in firing position?  The company asked me to evaluate the handgun to see if it was in working condition and also to try to re-create the discharge.  Upon examination, the firearm was in factory-stock condition, worked as designed, and I

Bang Discharge Stationcould not get it to do what the employee claimed happened.  Upon further discussion, it was revealed  that he had not removed the magazine FIRST before clearing the chamber.  Company training procedure is to remove the ammunition source, then clear the chamber. (as it should be for anyone, or any company.)

Cause of Discharge: Failure to follow correct unloading sequence.

Lesson learned: Use the clearing barrel (Point it in a Safe Direction) and remove the magazine first.  As an aside to this, I’ve noted in many media portrayals of unloading semi-auto weapons, it is done backwards:  jack the slide to the rear and then drop the magazine.  The lesson from this is; to avoid this kind of “bang”  DON’T DO IT THE “HOLLYWOOD” WAY!

Case Three:  Back in November, a man and his son, whom I know, were at a local indoor range enjoying shooting Grandpa’s World War II 1911A1 pistol.  Their grandfather had passed away a few months before and the pistol was found as they wee cleaning his home.  The gun had been fired before with no problems.  As they were preparing to leave, the dad put the loaded .45 ACP into the bag they brought it in.  For some reason he had placed it on half-cock.  As he fastened the bag, the pistol discharged striking his son on the first joint of his right hand little finger, which deflected the factory hollow point bullet so that it entered his lower right abdomen and traveled around rather than through in a straight line, lodging in his lower back.  The bullet was extracted at the hospital shortly thereafter.  The boy is about 6 feet tall and well built, so the bullet hit nothing vital due to the deflection, as it struck the bone of his hand. The boy and father are people I know quite well.  The dad is a former police officer, had been to a class I taught and seemed to be familiar with firearms.  It was a traumatic experience for them and their family.  The father called his wife immediately and profusely apologized to her, he then apologized to the range owner and his son.  I spoke to him a few days later, to see how he and the boy were doing.  All were doing well and have come through a frightening experience surprisingly well, considering what the outcome could have been. A thought provoking post-script to this, is what the young man told his dad shortly after he was shot.  He said, “Dad, I was supposed to be there when this happened.  Had I not been standing where I was, that bullet could have hit the two little girls who were standing behind us, and one of them could have been killed.”  I believe “Someone” was watching over all involved and a tragedy was prevented.  Definitely an interesting “bang” in this situation.

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