Famous Last Words

12-Jan-09 – 09:08 by ToddG

In a forum I visit daily (mp-pistol.com), there was recently a thread about how to disassemble a M&P pistol. The person starting the thread wrote:

 I am not concerned at all about the safety aspect of it. (…) I am very proficient with gun handling so that is not an issue for me.

Off the top of my head, I can think of at least two very proficient firearms instructors who have shot themselves accidentally.

The most dangerous person in the world is someone who believes he’s too good or too smart or too experienced to worry about safety. The smartest people in the world make mistakes. Complacency is deadly when dealing with firearms.

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that you’re having fun by launching deadly missles at hundreds of miles per hour from that little gadget in your hand. Neither your pistol nor your ammunition knows the difference between you practicing at the range, plinking for fun, or shooting someone. Each and every bullet leaves that barrel with the same force and the same ability to injure or kill. The round you fire accidentally into your hand or thigh is not going to hurt less because you didn’t mean to do it.

Safety is not measured by past proficiency. It is measured only by the way you conduct yourself, the way you handle a firearm each and every time now and in the future.

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG

  1. 11 Responses to “Famous Last Words”

  2. Thankfully I’ve never shot myself, but I’ve had a trio of ADs, and witnessed countless more by trained, experienced, combat vets. All mine were from the holster getting too fast on the trigger and putting a round in the dirt a few feet in front of me. Safe direction, safe backstop, unsafe handling.

    You cannot be too safe. A great investment is the blade-tech training barrels, which allow you to convert your live dry fire gun into an inert dry fire gun in seconds with visible indicators of such. Cheap insurance

    Todd – great post. These are needed when you start focusing more on your splits than on your safety.

    By MHCPD on Jan 12, 2009

  3. i don’t know what the big deal is, as long as you look down the barrel to make sure the chamber is empty you should be fine.

    By David on Jan 12, 2009

  4. Several weeks ago I was at a local gunshop looking at an M&P. I’ve had mine over a year and wanted to compare my sear with a new one. I asked the guy if I could borrow a screw driver to push the sear release lever out of the way; he grabbed the gun from me, pressed the trigger and then disassembled it.

    I was a little, okay, I was really shocked. The guy didn’t bat a lash, and was clearly peeved that I was taking the proper steps. For me, moving the sear release is like muscle memory; I can’t and won’t do it any other way.

    Television news and the papers are reporting how gun sales are way up over last year. The media is going to have a hay-day once these yahoos start shooting themselves in their own kitchens or workshops while cleaning their weapons.

    MHCPD is absolutely right. You can never be too safe.

    By JoeB on Jan 12, 2009

  5. Todd – I read that as well and saw your reply. Unfortunatley there are a lot of gun owners that think and act that way. Scary stuff.

    By MW on Jan 12, 2009

  6. Well stated! Why I love this site. No matter how safe I am it is always notes like this that really reaffirm safety!!!!

    By Locobombero on Jan 13, 2009

  7. Isn’t shooting onesself prima facia evidence of not being a “proficient instructor”? The sear release lever was the first thing that I pulled out when I got the gun. And yes, I am concerned with safety. (Just not that level of hassle.)

    By Skillshot on Jan 14, 2009

  8. Skillshot — That’s sort of the point I’m trying to make. No, being proficient is not a guarantee against accidents. All of us, no matter how skilled we feel, no matter how long we’ve been handling guns, are susceptible. As soon as you think you’re too good to have an accident, that’s when you’ll have a big one.

    By ToddG on Jan 14, 2009

  9. Todd, I am flattered that you put this on your website. I do believe you may have wrongly labled me though. The whole thing was about whether or not it would damage the gun! The (part) of the quote you used:

    “I am not concerned at all about the safety aspect of it. (…) I am very proficient with gun handling so that is not an issue for me.”

    I do make sure the weapon is clear EVERY time before disassembling it. (or taking any other action for that matter). After you remove the magazine, open the slide and eject any remaining round, and then visually look in the chamber to verify it is empty, anything you do beyond that is pointless in verifying the gun is empty. It has already been DEFINATELY proven. Lowering the sear deactivation lever is just another one of those pointless steps to verify the gun is empty. As stated on mp-pistol.com, I belive that is why it was added as a step to be sure the gun is not loaded before disassembly. Since it is instilled in me to check for empty as stated above, the additional check by lowering the sear deactivation lever is pointless, again as originally stated, as long is it will not harm my pistol to pull the trigger (on an empty chamber) to disassemble it.

    Anyway, thanks for your concerns and good luck with your new pistol

    By btolliverjr on Jan 14, 2009

  10. btolliverjr — Certainly plenty of people operate guns that way without shooting themselves. After all, every Glock has to work that way. The S&W M&P simply has a mechanism that allows you to disassemble the gun without taking the risk of dropping the striker on the chamber.

    But the point of this entry wasn’t to address the specific issue from your mp-pistol.com post, which is why I neither mentioned your username nor linked to the specific post. The comment I quoted is something I’ve heard from a lot of people, many of whom weren’t nearly as infallible as they thought.

    If you’re comfortable doing it your way, rock on. I’m not a nanny. Personally, I don’t see the sear release lever as a bad thing, and I use it every single time because while I, too, verify that the gun is empty before disassembling it, I also realized I’ve made mistakes before. I’d rather avoid creating a nexus between “mistake” and BANG if at all possible.

    By ToddG on Jan 14, 2009

  11. “That’s sort of the point I’m trying to make. No, being proficient is not a guarantee against accidents.”

    I think this is really important. One thing I learned in the airplane business is that accidents don’t just happen to stupid, careless people. Even stupid, careless accidents. Everybody, no matter how smart, careful or experienced is capable, on occasion, of doing some very dumb things in addition to just making honest mistakes, and the only way to really have a hope of avoiding doing those things is to recognise that you are capable of them, whoever you are.

    If you don’t accept the fact that you’re capable of doing something stupid and/or careless, you aren’t going to be paying attention to the signs that could alert you to the fact that you might be about to do just that. You can’t do a great job of avoiding accidents without being fully cogniscent of the fact that you could very easily be the cause of one.

    By Paul on Jan 17, 2009

  12. Paul — I haven’t had much time to update the site since SHOT Show began, but when your comment came across my screen I had to take time out to say, “Wow … excellent!” Thanks.

    By ToddG on Jan 17, 2009

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