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July 17, 2008

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Phil Bourjaily: Accidental Discharge

I was going to post a funny video of an accidental discharge to start this post, then this news item caught my eye as a reminder that there aren’t any funny accidental discharges. This is the only fatality I’ve ever heard of at a gun club. Incredibly enough, it was the club’s manager who fired the shot. All of us, no matter how experienced, have to remember always:

1. Treat guns as if they were loaded 
2. Keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction at all times.

Arguably, rule two is more important than rule one, because if you break rule one, rule two acts as a failsafe. The only two accidental discharges I’ve personally witnessed did nothing worse than embarrass the shooters.

The first was on a trap field, where no one had told a teenager that his borrowed Model 12 would go off if he closed the action with his finger on the trigger. Fortunately, he had the gun pointed safely at the ground, and did nothing worse than blast a divot in the grass.

The second was by an old farmer who accepted our invitation to come hunt with us on his land (you know how they say you’re supposed to do that when you ask permission to hunt? Well, I don’t any more). He went into a shed to get his gun and we heard a muffled boom as he shot a neat hole through the roof from the inside.



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I prefer the term "Negligent Discharge".


Addendum to my last post, what I actually told Riley was that if that %$#^&* pointed his high falutin' gold cup at me one more time I was going to shoot him and tell God it was an accident. The hardest thing for me to do was just lay my gun down on the rest in my lane and turn and walk out.

When I first got out of the Army, there were some who felt I had some issues with "impulse control" Most of what we did demanded instant, almost reflexive response and did not allow not much more than a microsecond to think about what you were doing. I realized then that I could be socialized to the civilian world even though others had their doubts.

A couple of years earlier this guy, had he been in the Army, in a place far away, would have been taken out by any number in his unit because he was unsafe. It was thought by many, back then, it's better to lose a man who will get good people killed than for the others to get killed. Never saw it in practice but you couldn't help but hear of stories. That's the kind of situation where the practice of "fragging" originated.
I'm not saying it's the right thing to do but sometimes people do whatever it takes for them to survive, and the purpose of the the Army, after all, is to kill people and break things.

Del in KS

Back in '72 (while young and naive) I bought a new Rem Model 700BDL in 7mm Rem magnum. An Army gunsmith pal set the trigger at 1 pound and the scope was Redfield 3X-9X. My bro-in-law took me pig hunting back home in Fla. on my Uncle's cattle ranch. We had two nice pigs in the back of his brand new GMC pickup. We drove out of the back pasture with our guns still loaded and stopped by the barn to unload. Back then you had to slip the safety off to open the bolt on a M700. When I flipped the safety off the gun fired (did not touch the trigger). Had to buy my Bro-in-law a new tire and rim. Two things we learned never put a loaded gun in a vehicle even in the woods. That Remington trigger is unsafe if you go below 3 lb on the trigger.


You may recall the public range outside Fairbanks, Alaska. I was shooting there once and a kid at the next firing point waved a muzzle past my chest. When I politely told the father the kid denied the act and the father got upset with me. I gave them the range.


Y'all can call me all the foul things you want...but the FACT is, in MY world there is NO SUCH THING as an A/D...PERIOD...I MAY have over reacted (I NEVER point a gun at anything lightly...EVER) But i DAMN sure aint gonna sit and watch ANY idiot put a round down range whilst folk are down there,friends or no. Sorry for you if you cant understand that little tidbit. These ranges here have NO range master...I did what NEEDED to be done and EVERY other person on the range APPLAUDED my actions that day! (some 15 people)

In MY world..if you CHOSE NOT to follow the letter of the 10 commandments of saftey..then YOU dont deserve to have or handle a firearm...PERIOD.

I guess according to the disenters i should have sat and watched this idiot put one 50 cal HP down range within 5 yards of where my buds are changing targets!?! or mayhaps sat and listened to his pathetic excuses and then allowed him to continue on with UNSAFE ways to kill someones else later?!?!

Sorry....i think NOT...i will stand by my actions of that moment...right, wrong or indifferent.

No such thing as an accidental discharge...only sloppy handling of firearms.


You're lucky you didn't get charged with assault. I pray that you don't think you did everything right in that situation. I understand being extremely worried for your friends. But, if there were more of you than him, why couldn't you have just escorted him out without brandishing the 1911? And why did you guys just not leave? Did you own the shooting range? He had a right to shoot there to didn't he?(Albeit he was a complete idiot in his own right.) But you and him basically commited the same offense. He aimed a loaded weapon at your friends and you aimed a loaded weapon at him. Both very dumb things to do. I don't want to spend time bashing you, I just pray that you never find yourself in that position again and do the same thing twice. You could easily be in jail had that fellow decided to press charges.


You're lucky you didn't get charged with assault. I pray that you don't think you did everything right in that situation. I understand being extremely worried for your friends. But, if there were more of you than him, why couldn't you have just escorted him out without brandishing the 1911? And why did you guys just not leave? Did you own the shooting range? He had a right to shoot there to didn't he?(Albeit he was a complete idiot in his own right.) But you and him basically commited the same offense. He aimed a loaded weapon at your friends and you aimed a loaded weapon at him. Both very dumb things to do. I don't want to spend time bashing you, I just pray that you never find yourself in that position again and do the same thing twice. You could easily be in jail had that fellow decided to press charges.


And another thing, just because the state my consider a black powder unloaded if it is without a cap or primer, does not mean that the gun is unloaded. I recommend never leaving any bullet in any gun that is not intended for immediate use.

Jim in Mo.

I understand how you must have felt but that guy didn't have a brain in his head. Lucky you didn't turn your back on him. If one person gives a lecture the audience may think he's full of crap but if everyone at the range had delivered a stern warning that may have gotten through to him and allowed him to learn. Hope he's not out there teaching his boy hunter safety.

Jim in Mo.

Here most ranges have a range master but there's a couple that the cons. dept. 'keeps up', ie shoot at your own risk. You want to see some real yahoos go there. As I was teaching my son to shoot I never took him to one of those ranges to pick up bad habits. When I finally did he was telling me of the crazy unsafe things he saw.

Ronny Wilks

I wanna rape my grandmother with a sharp knife..http://nimbusters.org/forum/forum.php?board=8


just search Youtube for "Boys Kissing" an see how many hits you get!!! It should be called GAYtube!



You just reaffirmed what I wrote.

How can anybody control a situation and be a Voice of Reason when they can’t control themselves? ……Not what is expected of a mentoring leader.

I know you won’t be happy to read this, but you should look your heart square in the eye….and those 15 other good shooters who approved a belligerent, unsafe, grandstanding act.

You’re half way there by acknowledging you should have done something different.

Clay Cooper

Del in KS




No, i do not think i did everything right in that situation.
I KNOW i could/should have handled it differently (how still eludes me)..but i did not...i did what needed to be done at that moment in time...I am some 15 years older and a bit less brash these days. Considering the situation at the time...i stand behind my actions...and yes i KNOW i am lucky not to have been slapped with assault charges in the worst or brandishing charge in the least. In that moment in time i wasnt gonna listen to anymore excuses and i DAMN sure wasnt gonna have this idiot shooting around us. Again, right wrong or indifferent...i did what NEEDED done at the moment.

OH and Mark..I MAY be a dumb big mouthed ass...but i AINT a lilly livered puss bag thats gonna stand around and watch some IDIOT put peoples lives in danger by PURE ignorance...i guess you are and would. Glad i dont shoot with you, now knowing that you would allow some IDIOT to put a bullet in my back while you stood by and did NOTHING. Thanks


One last post as an attempt to bring this back on topic, then i shall "attempt" to be done with this.

If i would have allowed said idiot to touch one off...and it KILLED one of my friends...the deed would most likely be chaulked up to A/D.

A/D 99.99% of the time is an EXCUSE. Therefore absolves one of any wrong doing. THAT mentality leaves the door wide open for it to happen again.


Had some similar episodes of wildly dangerous idiots with thier guns. A while back I was browsing in a popular gun store in Phoenix, an old haunt of mine, called Ledgendary Guns (Always looking for a deal), when some guy bebopped in. I noticed he had a large bandage on his hand. The place had only 3-4 coustomers in it and a few employees. One of the employees from behind the counter said "can I help you find a gun?". The guy said "Nope, got plenty of guns". The employee asked what happened to your hand? He gave a loudmouthed story about how he was cleaning his Ruger pistol and shot himself. He laughed it off like it was a joke. Not only was no one else laughing, the silence said it all. He quickly slinked out, tail between his legs.

Another time was at a public range in north Phoenix. I was shooting my Garand when a guy and his probably 8 year old son took the bench next to me. I overheard the dad saying he was going to teach his son how to shoot. The "teaching instrument" was a 9mm Lorcin semi Auto. Dad proceeded to top off the magazine and let junior go at it. Every time junior had a question he would twist to the side in a bent iscosoles stance, exposing the firing line to the muzzle of the pistol. Dad was not really instructing the kid at all, just gaping down range. I stood up walked back and told the rangemaster who corrected them, but he kept going at it. I sat out several sessions waiting for them to run out of ammo. Eventually several others noticed, got up and sat out until the rangemaster asked them to leave. This sort of irresponsability gives me the creeps to this day and just makes me much more aware of what I am doing.

Jim in Mo.

Officer: What happened?

Excuse: I didn't know it was


When I was in my late teens, just out of high school, I was doing an evening duck hunt with a couple of older guys - brothers. At the end of the hunt we were standing there and the one guy proceeded to unload his pump gun, jacking it 3 times but only 2 rounds ejected. He closed the action, pointed the barrel towards the ground - between his brother's feet - and pulled the trigger. For some reason one of the rounds hadn't ejected. I'll never forget the flame from the barrel in the dusk shooting out between the other guy's feet. They both thought it was funny as hell. I was 17 years old and I didn't see the humour. It made a big impression.

Mike Diehl

"Y'all can call me all the foul things you want..."

Had I observed you doing that, you would be the guy I would call "The man I just witnessed committing aggravated assault with a firarm" to the first policeman I could get ahold of.


When I trained at the old ATA shooting grounds in Vandalia, Ohio as a trap loader and a score keeper the instructor became very serious and addressed the issue of misfires. It was interesting that among some of the worlds top trap shooters there had been accidental discharges. As you said, Dave, take unfamiliar guns, add in the pressure of competition, and you get the unthinkable.

jersey pig

i had one (1) accidental discharge. i will ot relate the details as it is very embarrassing and left me with a hole in the floor and a loud ringing sensation in my ears for a full day. that being said, i was exercising rule #2 and no one was injured. and i may add i am so careful now im paranoid. made me safer but i dont reccommend it as a learning method.

and too the idiot who purposely pointed a gun at someone, accidents are accidents, despite the amount of stupidity involved. what you did was wanton, deliberate, and coincidently good for a 5 year stretch in state prison here. i think i'd rather shoot next to the careless moron than you. please feel free to continue to brag about it. potentially you will still get yourself locked up.

Clay Cooper

Accidents come in two categories, preventable and none preventable. It’s the none preventable that will bite you the hardest. One day at the Sheriffs range, when the target turned and I went to draw my weapon from the holster, the weapon was ripped right out of my hand so hard my fingers felt like they had been hit hard with a stick that stung like hell. As the weapon was falling to the ground grabbing it was not an option. So I cushioned the fall with my right foot before it hit the ground. Luckily I didn’t have my finger in the trigger guard!

Anyone want to take a stab what caused this accident?

Give you a two clues, it wasn’t the retaining strap. Leather Law Enforcement Holster

So what happened?


I think what is not grasped by Mike is NO ONE who is angry should ever confront someone else with a gun in his hands unless it is a life or death situation, like someone's trying to abduct your kid or your wife, even someone you don't know, it's a robbery in progress, you get the drift.

When you confront anyone with a gun in your hands, you have escalated the entire situation to a level very few people can handle or understand, and you increase geometrically the probablity of there being a lethal exchange. As far as I know, the first person to introduce weaponry in a lethal conflict can be culpable unless they are preventing a crime. Being stupid is not a crime, fortunately for most of us have been guilty at some time or another, nor is there a plea of "Not guilty by reason of Stupidity."

It is unwise to bring a weapon into any conflict where the other guy is just being stupid. If he is that stupid, he probably will have other areas of poor judgement. Don't you be stupid, too. "he started it" only works with your parents (and then not often.)

If it were to escalate and someone dies, even if you get off, you will have to live the rest of your life with your very unwise choices. You will see it every night when you sleep for a very long time. You may not want to go to sleep because you will be confronted with your choice as soon as you drift off.

Trust me, I am not joking here. It is hard for anyone to live with the fact that they took a life, even if it was in war or in self-defense. I would imagine it would be worse to know I killed someone while being stupid.

Bottom line, If you are angry, PUT YOUR GUN AWAY.


i have a buddy tim him and his dad went on tims first dove hunt when he was 10 tim had a piece of shit 12 gauge that misfired alot he swung at a dove pulled the trigger then looked down the barrel 10 feet away was his dad hes glad that gun didnt fire due to its shittyness he has learned his lesson and has never been dumb enough to tell his dad what almost happened

Jim in Mo.

I know, I know, pick me. It probably was the fact that many law enforcement holsters require the handgun to be slanted forward for removal. Thus restricting ease of access during a confrontation/fight.

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