McHENRY COUNTY, ILLINOIS — Two reports in just as many weeks of gun owners shooting themselves in the hand while trying to disassemble their firearms. That’s the recent news out of McHenry, Illinois, where Sheriff’s deputies confirm a man was in a concealed carry class when his pistol went off. To make matters worse, the negligent discharge came from someone who was assisting an instructor in a concealed carry class.
A state-approved concealed carry class is required to obtain Illinois’ concealed carry permit.
While no life threatening injuries were reported in either incident — the one in the concealed carry class and the other one a week prior — the Northwest Herald included a statement from McHenry County Sheriff’s Department in urging gun owners to “treat every firearm as if it were loaded”.
That’s a basic firearm safety rule.
The assistant instructor blamed the gun, but as concealed carriers we know we only have ourselves to blame in the event of a negligent discharge during the routine disassembly of our everyday carry handguns.
It’s all about fighting complacency. There’s an idea that if someone has been handling guns for a long time, he knows what he’s doing. Yes, probably. But that doesn’t mean that he can’t take that knowledge for granted.
Start every disassembly from one basic point: the gun is loaded.
Eject the magazine of the pistol and visually inspect the chamber for the presence of ammunition. If none exists, you’re good to go. If you see a round still lodged in the chamber, pick it out and then begin disassembling.
We know this is all old hat for all you seasoned concealed carriers out there but we encourage developing a dialogue where we remind each other often that the basic rules of firearm safety always apply.
And, for reference, here are the first basic four rules of firearm safety:
- Treat every firearm as if it is loaded. A gun is loaded until you have visually and manually confirmed that there is no ammunition in it.
- Keep your finger clear and off the trigger until you are ready to fire.
- Never point your gun at anything you do not intend to shoot. Everywhere you see the barrel pointed, it needs to be in a safe direction where no one can be hurt.
- Know what is in front of and directly behind your target.
We hate seeing people hurt themselves with firearms. It’s something that we seek to prevent through good education and getting us to talk to one another and stay accountable.
Don’t be afraid to run through these rules out loud as you’re handling a firearm you just picked up. Safety is — and always will be — our number one priority. And it’s a mistake that’s generally made easiest by those with a decent degree of experience with guns.
Stay safe. Who knows when your family, friends, and loved ones need you to be there for them? Be prepared, be ready, and never let complacency take over.