There’s a saying that there are two kinds of gun people; ones that have had an accidental discharge and ones that haven’tÂ yet. My preferred term is ‘negligent discharge’ for most such events as they are a direct result of operator error. As a general rule guns don’t discharge if someone or something doesn’t pull the trigger. Pulling the trigger of a loaded gun isn’t an ‘accident.’
We recently purchased a Rossi M68 revolver to turn into a gun for Linda. I’ve made a custom ergonomic grip for it and done some work on the trigger job and noted that it was rather dirty- in fact one of the chambers was a bit sticky. When I came in from the shop today I remembered this and thought I’d clean it on my lunch break. No, it did not ‘Go off while I was cleaning it.’ I never got that far…
I was a bit distracted as IÂ unloaded the gun. I dumped the shells in my hand and set them on the table, then for some reason pointed the gun in a safe direction and pulled the trigger. As it happens the chamber really was sticky- only four of the five rounds had dropped free.
Now anyone that knows me knows I always, always, always check a gun before handling it or handing it to another person. This one time I did not visually verify that the cylinder was empty. Distracted, abstracted, whatever- it was negligent. I’ve had one negligent discharge previously to this, over thirty years ago. That one happened because I trusted someone when they said a police shotgun was unloaded. That’s when I became so fanatic about checking, double-checking and rechecking. Habitually I if I set a gun down I will check if it is loaded when I pick it up again thirty seconds later. All it takes is one time…
No injuries or serious damage this time, because I did point it in a safe direction. The bullet, a .38 Special 158 grain LSWHP passed through the wall between the living room and kitchen, struck the side of the microwave just below the upper edge, passed out of the top of the microwave struck right along the edge of the kitchen wall and ceiling. It appears to have stopped in the roof framing.
The microwave actually still works; nothing but the case was damaged. Linda has decreed, however, that we are not going to use a microwave with a bullet hole in it. Since we’ve been offered a free one recentlyÂ I concur.
On the scale of things I got off easy; this could easily have had tragic results. It didn’t because my decades of training did not completely fail me. It goes to show that no matter who you are and how long you’ve been handling guns you only have to screw up once. A little spackle and paint and it will be like it never happened… but I am not going to forget anytime soon.