How to Prevent Negligent Firearm Use as a Gunsmith
Owning, building, and using firearms is a fun-filled and fulfilling hobby, but safety is always the first priority whenever a firearm is handled. It is very easy for an accident to happen when people do not regard safety as their number one concern. Many people die every year in America from firearm-related injuries or deaths—some of which are entirely preventable. Accidental and negligent discharges of a firearm accounts and firearms that are stored or used unsafely significantly increase one’s risk.
A Gunsmith’s Safety Responsibilities
It is the mark of a good gunsmith that they take safety seriously. It doesn’t matter in what situation the firearm is being used or checked; safety is the primary concern. A gunsmith should familiarize themselves with the firearm they are using, the area they are in, and the people around them so they can continue their incredible hobby without any issues. It goes without saying that any firearm should be used without the use of alcohol or any other substances, as it impairs a gunsmith’s judgment. Most gunsmiths should have the same standard of safety regardless of the environment they are in.
Even in a gun store with expert gunsmiths, safety standards should not slip. Gunsmiths face various hazards when looking at other people’s defective guns or showing customers new firearms. If someone is being unquestionably unsafe within a store, as a staff member, customer, or gun owner, you have the responsibility to step in and show that person how to handle a gun safely and with care.
In addition to the bevy of other legal issues gunsmiths may face, including property insurance, and product liability, gunsmiths need to also ensure and enforce the safe practice of firearm handling. Possible enforcement could include safety rules for shooting ranges, such as a “cease fire” command, HOT and COLD ranges, as well as research on possible capacity limits and state regulations.
Regarding gun safety, there are four cardinal rules to ensure the safety of the person using the gun and everyone around them. Beginners or young adults should be closely supervised when handling any firearms until they become more experienced. These rules have been covered previously in an MGS Blog, but just to remind you, they read:
- Never point your firearms at anything you do not wish to destroy.
- Always treat a firearm as if it’s loaded.
- Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target and you are ready to fire.
- Always be certain of your target and what’s beyond it.
As a gunsmith, these rules are your Bible. They ensure safe gun handling and prevent possible catastrophe. This, in hand, avoids possible negligent and accidental discharges, one of the leading causes to firearm-related injuries and death. Before moving on to prevention of these discharges, it is important to understand the difference between the two.
A negligent discharge is the unintentional firing of a shot as a result of a violation regarding the four cardinal rules of firearm safety. In the case of a negligent discharge, the fault is entirely on the individual handling the gun and how the situation could have been prevented. The distinction here is that a negligent discharge typically arises from “reckless” behavior, meaning a violation of policy, protocol, or standard operating procedures.
An example of a negligent discharge would be the viral video of a dancing FBI agent that attended a nightclub, who did a backflip, causing his firearm to drop out of the holster. As he scrambled to pick the gun up, he accidentally pulled the trigger, shooting a crowd member in the leg. This would be a clear example of a negligent discharge, as there were several safety measures blatantly violated.
It should be noted that negligent discharges would be virtually eliminated if every gun handler would strictly observe the safety rules. Unfortunately, negligent discharges still occur due to unfamiliarity with these rules, or careless errors that take place, regardless of an individual’s training and knowledge.
Mechanical malfunctions result in an accidental discharge. This is through no fault of the individual handling the gun, as there is an equipment malfunction to blame. An example of an accidental discharge could be that a holster may improperly fit a firearm, causing a strap or band to get caught in the trigger guard, resulting in a discharge.
Accidental discharges can be prevented through selection of quality equipment, proper maintenance, and storage, and by avoiding modifications that inhibit your gun’s mechanisms. Again, accidental discharges cannot be entirely eradicated, as all mechanical devices are prone to error, but quality control is a great countermeasure.
In conclusion, safety education helps greatly reduce the potential risks of firearm handling. As a gunsmith, your responsibility increase tenfold. Not only do you serve as a role model in the community, you are also the informed technician, helping ensure that firearms function both properly and legally.
By: Ryan Clancy, Engineering HQ