July 17, 2008
Phil Bourjaily: Accidental Discharge
By David E. Petzal and Phil Bourjaily
I was going to post a funny video of an accidental discharge to start this post, then this news item caught my eye as a reminder that there aren’t any funny accidental discharges. This is the only fatality I’ve ever heard of at a gun club. Incredibly enough, it was the club’s manager who fired the shot. All of us, no matter how experienced, have to remember always:
1. Treat guns as if they were loaded
2. Keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction at all times.
Arguably, rule two is more important than rule one, because if you break rule one, rule two acts as a failsafe. The only two accidental discharges I’ve personally witnessed did nothing worse than embarrass the shooters.
The first was on a trap field, where no one had told a teenager that his borrowed Model 12 would go off if he closed the action with his finger on the trigger. Fortunately, he had the gun pointed safely at the ground, and did nothing worse than blast a divot in the grass.
The second was by an old farmer who accepted our invitation to come hunt with us on his land (you know how they say you’re supposed to do that when you ask permission to hunt? Well, I don’t any more). He went into a shed to get his gun and we heard a muffled boom as he shot a neat hole through the roof from the inside.