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Aug 28 2012

Another great moment in gun ownership

What is it with gun owners accidentally shooting themselves in the buttocks? We had the earlier story of someone accidentally shooting himself this way with his concealed gun while reaching for his wallet.

Now comes along another story of a man in a movie theater doing the same thing. The man said “the gun fell from his pocket Tuesday night as he was adjusting himself in the seat and that it discharged when it dropped to the floor” hitting him in the buttocks.

Fortunately no one else was hurt. But it could have easily ended in tragedy.

I am not a gun owner but believe that these things have safety catches to prevent them from being discharged accidentally. How can people be so clueless that they don’t engage it? Or are they expecting that at any moment they may be faced with a quick-drawing contest like in old western films and that the safety catch will cost them precious moments?

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  1. 1
    Chiroptera

    I am not a gun owner but believe that these things have safety catches to prevent them from being discharged accidentally.

    They also have holsters which allow you to carry a gun safely, and are even designed to allow you to draw your gun quickly if you happen to come across a British invasion force or whatever it is you think your protecting yourself from.

    Carrying a gun in your pants pocket is pretty stupid.

    Now I’m not all that knowledgeable about “concealed carry”; do they really teach you, “eh, just stick in in the elastic band of your underwear”?

  2. 2
    Marcus Ranum

    I am not a gun owner but believe that these things have safety catches to prevent them from being discharged accidentally

    I never use the safety; I make sure that the guns are locked in the safe when not in use. Thus, there’s a big fat combination lock that serves as a “safety catch” and then the guns would have to somehow load themselves when I wasn’t looking…

    One thing I have to say that’s rather remarkable about guns: they’re still pretty dangerous, even if you’re careful. They serve as good “mistake magnifiers” – in the course of 25+ years of owning them and shooting frequently, I had one accidental shot fired (early in my career) that nearly hit my foot. Another time I was handed what I thought was an unloaded rifle and when I went to check to make sure it was unloaded, it was full of live rounds. I see firearms handling as a process of evaluating and re-evaluating safety procedures. Over time, in general, your procedures should get better and better. If you’re familiar with Charles Perrow’s work on “normal accidents” theory, it really does seem to apply to firearms handling: it’s a set of complex interactions in which the states are hard to always be sure of; thus you’re prone to accidents even if you think you know what you’re doing.

    My great uncle was an avid hunter who grew up with a shotgun in his hand. He helped feed the family through the depression. But he still managed to blow a great big hole in himself with a shotgun by making one of a category of mistakes everyone ought to recognize and avoid: he leaned the gun barrel up against a fence, then climbed over the fence, the gun shifted somehow and went off and hit him dead center. Normal accidents are ones where the failure is complex and generally critical safeties are disabled. In my great uncle’s case, he didn’t take the 1/2 second necessary to decock the hammers, didn’t ask his brother (who was right next to him when the accident happened) to hold and hand him the gun, etc. There were multiple safeties any one of which could have absolutely prevented the accident but they were all bypassed. And that’s how it always happens.

  3. 3
    Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)

    The safety catch is always off, every gun is always loaded, and never point a gun at anything you don’t intend to kill/destroy. None of this encourages me to put one in my pants pocket, knowing that at some point the gun may be pointing directly at my crotch (see: pointing guns at things you don’t intend to destroy).

  4. 4
    DaveL

    Many handguns, especially revolvers, do not in fact have an external, manually-operated safety catch.

  5. 5
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    Chiroptera:

    [...]and are even designed to allow you to draw your gun quickly if you happen to come across a British invasion force or whatever it is you think your protecting yourself from.

    Thanks for that.
    If I were drinking anything I would have spit it out all over my laptop.
    Funny that was.

  6. 6
    tom

    I’m not privy to these data, but I suspect the number of people killed or injured by gun accidents far far far far far outstrips the number of times a gun has been used to decommission a criminal (or a hated Redcoat). And the recent shooting outside the ESB, where all of the collateral damage was from police bullets, suggests that even the professionals are prone to bad outcomes, let alone the average fella packin’ heat at the movie theater.

  7. 7
    richardelguru

    It sure puts butt-dialing your ex in perspective.

  8. 8
    Reginald Selkirk

    Upstate Judge Is Censured for Accidentally Firing Gun in Chambers
    Who knew you should unload a gun before attempting to repair it?

  9. 9
    Travelin Txn

    Most guns do have safteys you can put on, and the ones that dont are revolvers which do not generaly go off if you dont have them cocked. Being in Louisiana (an open carry state) when i carry I carry openly, generaly without a round in the chamber, and never leave the safety off, and never ever leave my weapon cocked. (I also only carry on very rare occaisions) I know other people that carry with the hammer cocked and loaded with only the safety on. I just cant trust the saftey on its own enough to leave it at that, but since they are carrying in holsters designed for this it’s not as bad as it could be.

    All the concealed carry courses Ive ever heard of will teach you its a terrible idea to carry a gun lose in a pocket. Your supposed to carry in a holster designed for the type of cary you want to do, and there is a TON of holsters designed for safe concealed carry. Not that I think it should be used as an excuse to not use the safety and keep the hammer down. Gubns are designed so the safety can be easily and quickly taken off if you need to shoot, and pulling the hammer back really doesnt add much time either.

  10. 10
    Ryan

    As a Canadian, I think I can generally speak for my country when I ask, “What the hell is it with Americans and guns?” I’ve never met a person in my life who actually admitted to owning a gun, the only broad exception I remember was an uncle with a BB gun for shooting cans up in the woods, and that was 15 years ago, and he had it for less than a year. I’ve certainly never met anybody who accidentally shot themselves, how can these accidents be so common as to evoke the “Must have been an American, probably from the South” reaction in my perhaps, prejudiced mind? Are people really so careless with exploding pieces of metal that I’m not even surprised anymore?

  11. 11
    Morejello

    Many of the smaller ‘concealed carry’ guns (that would fit, for example, in the average pants pocket) don’t have a safety for 2 main reasons:
    1) The parts are small enough that it’s difficult to add a safety to the weapon in such a manner as for it to be reliable as a safety and also reliably switched off.
    2) The market for very small handguns like that is primarily people who buy them for personal defence and no other reason (EG, have no real intention to use them but want that ‘security blanket’ feeling from having one), or to people who want to carry concealed for less-than-legal purposes. Subsequently those people tend not to purchase top-dollar firearms but rather the cheapest that they can get. Generally that also means not well designed or manufactured. See also ‘saturday night special’ for more on that.

  12. 12
    Mr Ed

    I never realized that our gun laws were a response to Herman’s Hermits.

    /sorry couldn’t resist

  13. 13
    DaveL

    I was raised in Canada. According to wikipedia, a survey in 1996 showed 22% of Canadian households owned a firearm. I knew several people who owned guns. A good friend of my father’s was an avid big game hunter. My sister-in-law’s mother used to walk her to the bus stop carrying a shotgun (they lived in the backwoods of Manitoba). It’s really not that uncommon. However:

    1) Handguns are much more rare; and
    2) They just don’t talk about it much. I don’t think it’s the culture-war tribal signifier it is in the U.S.

  14. 14
    Stephen Yutzy

    The vast majority of the time, these “accidents” are caused not by any fault of the gun or its safeties, but because the owner ignored the most important safety: the one between his/her ears.

    These “it just went off” stories are usually a case of “I dropped it, I tried to catch it, my finger inadvertently grabbed the trigger, and then it went off”. That makes it a case of negligence, not accident. It’s easier to just blame the gun though. Guns fail of course, just at a significantly lower rate than people do.

    I view gun owners that aren’t safety conscious the same way that I view drivers who don’t know how to drive in the snow: I wish they’d learn up because they’re making the rest of us look bad.

  15. 15
    invivoMark

    I’m not sure it was a joke! I was, er, discussing gun rights with a conservative who actually brought up foreign invasion as a reason to make it easy to acquire guns. When pressed, he said that the British would have invaded us at some time in the last 50-100 years if we didn’t have the second amendment.

    Some people really are that dumb/insane/delusional.

  16. 16
    kyoseki

    are they expecting that at any moment they may be faced with a quick-drawing contest like in old western films and that the safety catch will cost them precious moments?

    Actually yes, a lot of the gun owners I know are convinced that they may have to pull off a Jason Bourne in order to shoot someone they feel is a threat – something I believe is total horsecock, you should always be paying attention and identify potential threats long before they present themselves, as my old motorcycle instructor put it; “if you have to react to something, it’s already too late”

    That said, whether the gun actually has a manual safety or not (many don’t, but have pretty heavy trigger pulls to compensate), unless someone’s been fucking with it, a gun should never discharge if it’s dropped, anyone who says they dropped a gun and “it just went off” is lying to try to cover up the fact that they pulled the trigger accidentally – Google “drop safety”

    I know that on my P226, unless you keep the trigger depressed until the hammer actually hits the firing pin, the hammer will stop before striking – so while a drop *may* disengage the sear and cause the hammer to fall, it won’t actually discharge a round unless the trigger is held throughout the course of the action.

  17. 17
    kyoseki

    Accidents do happen, but the VAST majority of gun deaths are deliberate – check WISQARS;
    Out of 31,347 firearms related deaths in 2009, only 554 were unintentional.

    The vast majority of gun deaths are suicides (18,735), with murder coming in second (11,493). So called “legal intervention” (including cop shootings) accounts for 333 deaths a year, so although it’s less than the number of people shot accidentally, it’s not “far far far” outstripped.

    Either way, the numbers for both accidental and legal intervention shootings ARE far far far outstripped by deliberate shootings – 30,000 vs about 800.

  18. 18
    James Sweet

    I thought I remembered reading/seeing somewhere that it was actually really hard to get a gun to go off just by dropping it (I thought it was Mythbusters where I saw this, but cursory googling does not seem to bear this out). It can happen, but I’m a little suspicious of these sorts of tales. He might have been doing something even stupider than keeping a loaded gun in his back pocket, and the lie that “Uh, it must have fallen out and gone off accidentally” was actually less embarrassing…

  19. 19
    sailor1031

    In which case you should always ensure that the chamber on which the hammer will fall is Empty. Autoloaders stuffed in your pants waistband should be uncocked – to ensure that you do not become so!

  20. 20
    Tsu Dho Nimh

    One night, working blood bank in the local trauma center, we got a request for a “type and hold 2″ for a GSW … translation being that they wanted us to check the blood type, screen for antibodies, set aside two units and wait for further instructions on any transfusions and complete crossmatching for someone admitted because of a gun shot wound.

    This was unusual, so we called for clarification – after he finally stopped laughing long enough to talk, the ER doc explained that the victim was trying to hide his gun from the cops, stuffed it into the back of his levis and the trigger caught on the belt loop and discharged through his buttocks. They were fairly certain they could do the repairs without needing any transfusions, but just in case, they asked for the type and hold.

    OK … and the name went onto the list of “10 stupidest reasons for ER visits” right above the guy who kissed the rattlesnake.

    =====
    Fast forward a couple of weeks … we get another type and hold for GSW. I call to clarify and this time the ER doc is barely able to discuss things.

    The victim this time was one of the arresting officers for the first incident.

    He was demonstrating the stupidity of the maneuver to fellow cops, at a backyard BBQ/Beer party, and shot himself in the butt.

    =====
    That was a decade or more ago, and I think his name has been engraved in stone at the top of the Stupid List since then.

  21. 21
    BrianX

    On FSTDT I saw someone once relishing the idea of forcing liberals to buy guns and bibles. It would have been very amusing to see how he’d react when he realized that a) there are plenty of liberals who are pro-gun and b) he’d be giving the people he likes least the power to tell him to back the fuck off without argument.

  22. 22
    DaveL

    A fairly common scenario is for someone to fumble a gun, at which point their natural reaction is to try to catch it. In so doing it’s not uncommon for the trigger to be accidentally depressed.

  23. 23
    DaveL

    In which case you should always ensure that the chamber on which the hammer will fall is Empty. Autoloaders stuffed in your pants waistband should be uncocked – to ensure that you do not become so!

    Well, I would argue against carrying a handgun stuffed into your waistband without a proper holster to begin with. Even so, many autoloaders favoured for self-defense are double-action-only: the act of pulling the trigger cocks back the hammer or striker, so the gun is ready to fire in its uncocked state. Such pistols often lack manual safeties, which is thought to be justified by their heavier trigger pull. The popular Glock handguns “Safe-Action” mechanism is generally considered to fall into this category.

  24. 24
    Kimpatsu

    If we decide to invade North America, we’ll wear red coats and carry muskets, just like David Sellers in The Mouse that Roared.

  25. 25
    Lynda Shufford

    I actually really feel that breed specific legislation ought to be prohibited. A dog turning out to be vicious isn’t based on the breed, but on who brought up the puppy, and for what purpose.

  26. 26
    M can help you with that.

    Hell, I’m a socialist and I own a Bible. (Well, two actually. With different sets of academic notes on original linguistic and cultural context, etc.) No gun at the moment, mostly because guns and ammo are rather expensive and I have better uses for my rather limited funds just now. (I used to shoot; most recently my now-ex-BF’s father and I would head to the range now and then…)

  27. 27
    WMDKitty -- Survivor

    Yanno, I have zero sympathy for the morons who “accidentally” injure themselves this way. I hope they all blow their balls off and remove themselves from the gene pool — the human race needs less stupidity.

  28. 28
    WMDKitty -- Survivor

    Jesus, I’m an American, and I can’t figure out what it is with Americans and guns.

  29. 29
    Anubis Bloodsin the third

    It It would appear that common sense and specific safety operation of a gun of any ilk would be very grown up and all mature, responsible and socially acceptable etc, but it is not the safety aspects that take priority under certain situations, no matter how well trained or drilled the weapon carrier is….

    http://edition.cnn.com/2012/08/25/justice/new-york-empire-state-shooting/index.html

    Easy to understand the adrenaline rush going down, but nine folks suffered from those affects.
    Seems that they all rode the luck that day…a blind eye is blind and dead body is dead….and a cripple is there for life.

    No matter how safety conscious, how well trained etc etc, guns are tools that get used badly and in some cases wrongly when the shit hits the fan!
    That is the bottom line, you cannot legislate for human fallibility, only regulate the licensing system…but that does not in any way guarantee no gun related ‘incidents’!

    If…as seems probable… this particular American dream is sacrosanct, then statistically folks are going to die that have no reason to, and that legislation cannot help.

  30. 30
    AndrewD

    Come on, we British may have our faults but we are not stupid enough to invade the US. We might win and the the Republicans would be our problem!
    Our conservatives are bad but at least there are elements of sanity in the Tory party

  31. 31
    robb

    the interpretation of second ammendment that people can keep and bear arms is outdated. a common interpretation of the ammendment includes the purposes to deter tyrannical governments, repel invasions, suppress insurections etc. therefore we need to update the definition of “arms.”

    personally, when a foreign government comes invadin’, i don’t want to have a six shooter that is likely to go off in my pants. i want something with a little more firepower, say a predator drone or M1 Abrams. now *those* will be useful to stave off tyrannical governments!

    the only drawbacks that i can think of is parking will be a bitch and the M1 has lousy mileage.

  32. 32
    Surgoshan

    This. Exactly this. The only safety feature that matters is the lump three feet above your holster.

  33. 33
    kyoseki

    What if it’s an ankle holster? :)

  1. 34
    » For all you would-be heroes who think you’ll save the day by carrying a gun… Decrepit Old Fool

    [...] It does seem that some people learn to handle guns by watching TV. Mano Singham: Another great moment in gun ownership [...]

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