How I Got Shot
(editor’s note: slightly graphic pictures follow; proceed at your own risk)
by “Littlelebowski” of the great Rational Gun blog
This story is used with the author’s permission
The following pictures depict the aftermath of a gun shot wound inflicted by a .45ACP 230 grn. hollow point projectile, fired at a distance of less than two feet from a 4” barreled Kimber Pro Carry 1911.
The victim is a healthy, robust, adult male, thirty-three years old, and an eight year veteran of the United States Marine Corps.
The injury was inflicted while the victim was in the front seat of his Jeep Cherokee, driving two passengers whom he described as co-workers to the firing range. From the driver’s seat, the victim described hearing a muffled ‘pop’ and accompanying spontaneous loss of use of his right arm. He described a total loss of digital mobility, and a sensation as if his arm were a “Tentacle or over cooked noodle just limply hanging there, totally useless and unresponsive.”*
Apparently, one of the passengers had taken the Kimber pistol from the range bag while sitting behind the victim. Outside the victim’s field of view, the passenger had inserted a loaded magazine, and cycled the action with his index finger resting on the trigger, discharging the weapon.
The projectile caused a ‘through and through’ injury, shattering the bones in the elbow, and exiting the front of the arm, where it grazed the victims rib before terminating in the dash board of the vehicle.
The small wound that appears to be a stab wound is actually the exit path of the projectile, having passed through the front of the victims arm.
The victim described himself as shocked but lucid, with the pain setting in rapidly over the first five minutes, and no possible use of the injured arm. He was able to safely stop the vehicle, exit, and enter the passenger side with assistance, allowing his passenger to drive him to the hospital. Once in the passenger seat, he described the bleeding as minimal, in consideration of the injury, but the effects of shock left him sweating and groaning, biting his uninjured arm to steady himself.
Surgery was not started until several hours after the time of injury, and a subsequent transport to a different facility. According to the victims account, any movement or ‘jostling’ of the limb during this time caused excruciating pain.
The photo of the X-ray indicates the extent of the reconstruction necessary. Bone grafts were taken from the right hip to repair the damage, and the expected 80-90% recovery of limb mobility and strength is being described as ‘miraculous.’
The first three major surgeries occurred over two days, requiring four bolts and other pictured hardware. The victim described the pain after the surgery exceeding that of the original wound significantly. The ordeal left him weak, dehydrated, and afflicted with further injuries from catheterization and other improper or rushed care. His recovery is not yet complete, though he has returned to work on restricted duty.
The injury provides us with several lessons:
First, and most importantly, is the tragic result of failing to follow the basic fire arms safety rules. Uncertain of his background or muzzle direction and with finger on the trigger, the shooter managed to inflict a permanent injury through negligence alone.
Second, is the total and instant loss of use of the injured limb. Though the victim described himself as mobile, and lucid, use of the limb in any way was beyond his capability. Had this been a fighting situation, he would not have been able to use his dominant hand for even the most rudimentary of tasks, even though he remained able to “fight” for a few critical moments more.
Third, is the nature of the wound. Much is hypothesized about the effects of different types of munitions from different arms. Here we see an undoing of popular belief, where a hollow cavity projectile expanded, doing devastating damage on impact with bone, but proceeded through the limb, leaving a small exit wound. Though a single injury is not definitive, it does illustrate the falseness of some assumptions about the behavior of bullets. Especially those established by use of flesh simulating media, such as ballistic gelatin, that lack the skeletal structure and tension of living flesh.
Finally, is the lesson of determination. The victim retained control of the situation, and of the vehicle. He acted to gain medical assistance, and did not panic. This saved his limb, and possibly his life. Beyond that, he did not accept the injury as limiting, and fought to regain use of his limb, aiding in his recovery.
The victim remains to this day an avid shooter and proponent of fire arms. He takes pleasure in his continued use, and ownership of the fire arm he was shot with, and wishes most of all that his injury will serve to help educate other shooters on safety, and survival.