APRIL 2, 2024

Editor’s Notebook: Reminders from the News

I’m forced to keep some track of defense gun uses and gun accidents as part of my job. I keep an eye out for issues that become “learning moments” for me, as well as for others. One way to do that is to subscribe to blogs, news aggregators and “follow” people who, like me, see a need to look out for trouble.

Off-body carry, a bad idea, is made worse when the gun is carried loose in the container with no holster covering the trigger guard. In the present case, a clip-on IWB clipped inside the bag would be a little better. Wearing the gun on your person is vastly better.

One asset is Stephen Wenger’s “DUF Digest” (that’s “Defensive Use of Firearms”). As he notes on his web page, it’s a “free digest of news and other material on tactics and defense of our rights. The excerpts that serve as introduction to the links usually include some of (his own) comments.”

On the same day, we see a “rules violation,” a firearms incident that led to negative outcomes (in the words of our Tactical Professor, who likewise keeps an eye out for mistakes of gun owners) and a “failure to do right” in terms of firearms use methods.

The rules violation was (in a sense) a “Rule 5” issue. Rule 5 was a concept I first noted from Mr. Wenger’s work. In my own lingo, it’s “failure to maintain control of defense equipment.” In the present case, it’s the wrong gun, in the wrong place at the wrong time – and a lack of awareness of the threat it posed.

Add a thumb safety? A mechanical safety wouldn’t hurt the situation, but it’s not as good as having a holster.

A 13-year-old girl was fatally shot by accident in the Nashville TN area. Her mother said that she carried an unholstered 40-caliber auto in her purse “with other items.” The news report related that “ … it went off as she (the mother) was attempting to retrieve her keys from the purse.” The projectile struck the child, causing the fatal wound.

Investigation continues, as they say.

Carry of sidearms loose in a bag with other items is problematic. It’s clearly a Rule 5 issue (having control of it means that the muzzle was maintained in the safest available direction – fail – and keeping anything from touching the trigger, likewise.)

One “Rules” violation cascaded into others, as it too often happens.

Why is a purse a lousy place to have a handgun? Let me count the ways … but it could have been a briefcase, a fanny pack or camera bag – anything that would be a prime target for muggers.

As Stephen notes, there are ways to “secure” guns in bags – a dedicated purse designed for carry of a gun, a trigger guard cover/minimalist “holster” that covers only the trigger guard area, or the gun in a holster in a bag.

I’m not sure I’m worried about the legal aftermath; the depth of despair a parent must have at such a turn of events is vastly more destructive.

So you’ll have time (and two hands) to draw and chamber a round? Perhaps you will, but if it’s unsafe to holster with a loaded chamber, what do you do when the fight is over – and people milling around, other potential threats in the area, responding police or armed citizens? Going to clear the chamber then? Can you?

In the same news digest issue, he lists an “empty-chamber” fail. Apparently, there are still those who believe that they can predict when things will get dangerous, so they insist on carrying a pistol half-loaded.

The handgun is an emergency rescue tool, good in very few situations. If it’s truly needed, there’s nothing else that will do. Making it more difficult to get it going is a sucker’s bet.

For this one, we go to the Memphis TN area, where a shopper got into an altercation with a man who hit a woman in the face. When he inquired into the situation, the offender struck him. This was followed by the Good Samaritan being shot by the assaultive personality. The victim took nine hits, seriously injured.

When asked about the police report that noted that he exchanged gunfire with his attacker, he said “his gun wasn’t ready for any exchange of gun fire.”

“Yeah, I had a firearm on me, but I didn't have it engaged. I had just left home, didn't feel a need to have something in the head. And that's how he was able to shoot me. And I wasn't able to shoot back,” the victim said.

You don’t need to carry empty chamber with this; and it’s vastly better than nothing. In some cases, it can be the best choice.

I’m detecting a pattern here. If you’re so worried about the loaded auto pistol “just going off,” by all means select a revolver. If you have to carry the gun half-loaded, leaving at home combined with minding your own business could prevent a number of surgical interventions – apparently our victim in this case has had surgical treatment already and faces having more.

For those who recall their military service with an empty chamber over five rounds of ball in the magazine and for those who are fond of the so-called “Israeli” carry method (“it works for them”), I recommend you rethink your tactics.

Even if you successfully defend yourself by shooting, you’ll still have to unload the chamber to “make it safe” (sic) again – and that’s in the aftermath of a near-death encounter.

That’s something else that just isn’t going to happen.

It helps for us to learn from the mistakes of others – and to thank God we didn’t yet make those same mistakes. It’s not dumping on the victims; it’s paying them back for teaching us the lesson.

— Rich Grassi