Gun cleaning accidents are tragic and 100% avoidable, yet, year after year, negligence and carelessness result in people shooting themselves or others unintentionally.
There is a section of my CWP class where I go into what the two causes of gun accidents are. Yes, all of the accidents that happen with guns are due to two simple things – Ignorance and Carelessness.
Ignorance – This is the cause in situations where someone is completely uneducated when it comes to guns and they just happen to get their hands on one. Not a good situation.
Carelessness – This is the cause when the opposite is true. An educated individual that has all the experience and knowledge necessary to never have a gun accident gets a little too lax, lets his guard down, and fails to employ the very gun knowledge he possesses.
Most semiautomatic pistols function the same way when it comes to disassembly. There is a takedown lever or pin of some sort that allows for the removal of the slide. However, with most of the semi-autos out there, the trigger must be pressed in order to allow the slide to fully come off the frame. This is where people get shot.
The gun owner believes his gun is unloaded and sets it on the table where he plans to clean it. He sits down and gets to work, flips the takedown lever, holds the gun in his right hand, and places his left hand on top of the slide. He’s holding the gun pointing it directly at his left thigh, finger on the trigger… this guy is certain his gun is unloaded… he pulls the trigger to release the slide, and BANG.
Let’s run through two of the cardinal rules that apply here.
Did he treat the gun as if it were loaded? Nope.
Did he point it in a safe direction? Nope.
NEVER trust your memory or anyone else’s memory that a gun is unloaded. Always check. After you’re done with that, check it again. If the phone rings or you get up to get a drink or whatever and you come back to proceed, CHECK IT AGAIN.
And even after that, treat it like it is loaded and point it in a safe direction while disassembling.
Here are some other rules to follow when cleaning your guns.
- Eliminate Ammo. Do not have any ammo in the same room you are cleaning in. Just don’t do it. Not even your carry ammo. Unload your gun in the other room and leave the ammo there.
- Eliminate ALL Distractions. This means no TV on and no one else in the room with you while you are cleaning. Don’t have your buddy on speakerphone either while you are cleaning your gun. Tell your family you are about to clean your guns and not to interrupt you. I think you get the idea.
- Alcohol. Do not enjoy a beer or any alcohol while cleaning your guns. Just don’t do it. Reward yourself after you’re done.
- Wear eye protection. Cleaning chemicals can splash in your eye and springs can fly in your face too.
- Muzzle Discipline. Watch where you point that muzzle. Never point it at something you aren’t willing to destroy.
Following this protocol will ensure you never have a gun accident while cleaning your gun. Guns are serious tools. All too often, people get a little too complacent because they are so dang comfortable around guns… until there’s an accident. LANCE Tactical makes an excellent and compact gun cleaning kit if you need one. It is very high quality and one we definitely recommend.
Joe Shahoud is the owner and lead instructor at Safe Family Defense LLC, a firearms training academy that serves the greater Columbia, SC area specializing in pistol, concealed weapons permits, personal defense, and general education in personal safety. Visit their classes page to see what is available and enroll.
Joe is also the owner of Safe Family Safes, an online retailer that specializes in fast-access smart gun safes and other gear essential to the concealed carry lifestyle.
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