… only a negligent discharge.
While I suspect all negligent discharges do not occur on purpose (the opposite of accidental), if looking critically at the definition of what accidental and negligence means, you will find that in fact, accidental discharges are intentional and 100 percent avoidable.
The definition of accidental is, “Happening by chance, unintentionally, or unexpectedly.”
If you have had a negligent discharge, ask yourself these three questions:
- How did my finger unintentionally find the trigger?
Unintentionally means, “not deliberate.” Unless you have a nerve or muscular disorder, your finger does not move unless you tell it to. You put it on the trigger intentionally.
- When I was disassembling my firearm for cleaning, how did I by chance just happen to shoot the TV?
By chance means “the unknown and unpredictable element in happenings that seems to have no assignable cause.” The gun was loaded, you put your finger on the trigger, you pulled the trigger, the gun fired and a bullet exited the muzzle. Just like we expect and predict a gun to do—clearly an assignable cause.
- If my firearm was unloaded, how did I unexpectedly fire a round?
Unexpectedly means “not regarded as likely to happen.” Of course, if you did not remove the magazine, clear the chamber, check the gun to ensure it is clear and then check again, then you certainly must expect the possibility that a round could fire. Am I right?
On the other hand, negligence means, “Failure to take proper care in doing something.” An accidental discharge is just that—you did not take the correct precautionary steps to prevent the gun from firing. Following the rules of firearms safety all the time means a negligence discharge should never happen.
The Golden Rules of Firearm Safety
- All guns are always loaded.
- Never let the muzzle cover something you are not willing to destroy.
- Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
- Know your target and what is behind it.
From 1999 to 2006, mortality-rates.org reported 5,974 people died from the negligent discharge of a firearm. If you ask me that’s a pretty freakin’ serious statistic. Negligent discharges are no joke. If you have had one and feel like an idiot—it’s because you should. There are no excuses. We know the Golden Rules of firearms safety—the only rules NOT meant to be broken.
I’ve read it described as “reckless,” “careless” and even “ignorant.” Actually, a negligent discharge is illegal in most places. Teach everyone in your household the safety rules. Do not ever bend these rules, no matter how sure you are.
Do not become too comfortable, complacent or cocksure. I know this guy—a real gun nut—who wanted to show me a recent purchase of his. He brought out his gun case and when he opened it and reached for the gun, I said, “Please show me clear.” He looked at me exasperated and said, “It’s clear.” “Humor me,” I responded. Sure enough, this same guy, while purchasing a gun from a friend, witnessed a negligent discharge. If you aren’t disciplined yourself, how can you discipline others?
I’ve heard “it’s not a case of if, it’s a case of when,” but I refuse to believe this. I will continue to follow all the rules all of the time and respect the power that my trigger finger holds.
Have you had a close call? Tell us what lesson you learned in the comment section.
Suzanne joined the content team with over eight years experience at Cheaperthandirt.com. Starting out as a product description writer, Suzanne has extensive knowledge of the Cheaper Than Dirt! product base and is a good resource for suggestions on which products you need. Suzanne specializes in writing for the female shooter, beginner shooter, and the modern-day prepper. Though she prefers plinking with her S&W M&P 15-22, Suzanne also loves revolvers, the 1911, short-barreled AR-15s, and shooting full auto when she gets the chance. Suzanne is a staff writer for Cheaper Than Dirt!