How to Avoid a Negligent Discharge

How to Avoid  a Negligent DischargeNegligent Discharge

By Home Defense Gun Staffer Shana

Most shooters know someone who has had an accidental—or more commonly known as negligent—gun discharge at some point, or at least have heard of someone that another shooter knows. There are countless stories about them: items being shot, holes in walls, people being shot in the leg—or worse. But negligent discharge can be avoided if gun owners remember to be careful and take the time to adjust their behaviors.

Many shooters and law enforcement officers prefer the term negligent discharge over accidental. Why? Because most of these cases are due to negligence that could have been prevented. So how do you prevent negligent discharge and handle guns safely?

First of all, always remember these three tips:

  • A gun is always loaded
  • Never point a gun at anything you don’t intend to shoot
  • Never put your finger on the trigger until you intend to shoot

A gun is always loaded. Period. Whether you know for a fact that the chamber is empty, think of the gun as always loaded. Treat it as if it’s loaded at all times. This the number one safety rule all gun owners should remember at all times. If you’re teaching others to shoot, especially children, remember to instill this fact into their heads as well.

If you don’t want to shoot your beloved Elvis Presley memorabilia in the two hundred year old hutch passed down through your family for generations, then don’t point your gun at it ever. This goes for anything and especially anyone you don’t want to shoot. The gun should never be pointed at them, and you should never put your finger anywhere near the trigger until you know with absolute certainty that you’re ready to shoot whatever it is you know with absolute certainty that you intend to shoot.

To ensure that you can holster and unholster your gun without getting your finger caught in the trigger guard, it’s best to go through some dry runs. With an unloaded gun—while still avoiding aiming at anyone or anything you don’t want to shoot—practice holstering your gun and then unholstering it. Get it into your shooting grip and your body into your shooting stance while making sure that you keep your gun away from the trigger. Doing this a few times when not intending to shoot will help you know how best to get the gun into position without touching the trigger.

But even following these rules, sometimes the gun can still discharge when we don’t want it to. Read on for advice on how to prevent other cases of negligent discharge.

Make sure your holster fits and covers the trigger safely. This is a story that has happened before: someone getting into a car buckles the seat belt, which gets caught on the trigger of the gun in the holster strapped to his belt. Why? The holster wasn’t solid enough to protect the trigger. It was worn leather and it bent with the seat belt, allowing the edge of the holster and the seat belt to work their way into the trigger guard. The strain of the seat belt once buckled discharged the gun. If he’s lucky, the bullet only hit the seat. If not, he now has a wound to the leg caused by negligence due to a worn holster.

If your semi-auto has a decocker, always use the decocker to lower the cocked hammer. Avoid pulling the trigger in order to load a round in the chamber when at all possible. When unloading a round from the chamber, turn your gun to the side to let the round fall out when you pull the slide. This allows the bullet to fall free of the chamber and keeps it from getting caught in the metal of the slide once it moves back into place, which could make the round go off if it moves with enough force.

Keep your finger off the trigger entirely until you’re ready to shoot. It’s easy to let your finger slip back into the trigger guard while holstering your gun or raising it to aim. Be alert of where your finger is in relation to the trigger and know how to keep it away from the area where it could possibly become entangled in the trigger when putting your gun away or raising it up.

Above all, remember to treat your gun as if it’s loaded every time you touch it. You never know when you may not have unloaded it entirely or when your finger might slip. If you have a safety, keep it turned on until you’re sure you are ready to shoot. Use a holster that is steady and secure, with no parts that can fold in and get caught on the trigger. If you follow these tips above, you can help prevent negligent discharge and use your gun safely.

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