Negligence from the New York Times

I came across a story from the New York Times from an author who negligently killed a friend of his while mishandling  a revolver and tries  to use his own traumatic experience and incompetence to push the gun prohibitionist meme that John Q. Civilian is too stupid to own guns and only the police should have guns.

Here is the author’s description of his failure.

…me in the back seat. The driver, who worked with the county sheriff’s department, offered me his service revolver to examine. I turned the weapon onto its side, pointed it toward the door. The barrel, however, slipped when I shifted my grip to pull the hammer back, to make certain the chamber was empty, and turned the gun toward the driver’s seat. When I let the hammer fall, the cylinder must have rotated without my knowing. When I pulled the hammer back a second time it fired a live round.


  1. “Informal” gun training can create bad habits
    • Shooting errors go uncorrected and you run the risk of a false sense of competence simply because you have been doing it for some time.
    • “Good luck reinforces bad tactics.”
      • I had a student a few weeks back who often went backyard shooting with his uncle who lived in rural NY.
      • His marksmanship was decent but his trigger discipline was AWFUL!
      • I see bad safety habits more often from students who have been informally shooting without training for an extended period of time than I do from new students.
  2. Know the CORRECT procedure for decocking a revolver or a hammer fired pistol
    • With revolvers (single-action or double-action), your supporting thumb MUST be covering the firing pin channel as you ease down the hammer.
    • The most common decocking error is see (usually with a 1911 or a revolver) is that the shooter will ride the hammer down with their shooting thumb without covering the firing pin channel with their support thumb.
    • The reason to use the support thumb is to block the hammer if your firing thumb slips. It is better to have the hammer pinch your support thumb than to have an unintentional discharge.
  3. Read the owner’s manual!
    • Picking up a gun and not knowing the first thing about how it works is just begging for trouble.
    • Know how to safely clear and de-cock the following hammer-fired guns
  4. Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.
    • The author should have stepped out of the car to check out the gun for a number of reasons
      • Noise in a confined space presents a major hazard
      • Ricochets are a risk as shown by the incident
  5. For my last point, the quote below really sticks out to me:

Where I grew up, masculinity involved schooling a mean dog to guard your truck or skipping the ignition spark to fire the points, and, of course, handling guns of all kinds. I was barely proficient in any of these areas. I understood what was expected of me and responded as best I could, but did so with distance that would, I hoped, keep me from being a total fraud in my own eyes.

Firearm accidents result are the result of ignorance of firearms function and handling, an improper attitude towards firearms, or a combination of both.

The author makes the impression that he was one of those “sensitive/artsy” type kids who may have been socially pressured into pursuing activities that he was not really interested in.

Such a scenario means that he took part in the activity while congitively focusing on his discomfort with shooting and was unable to focus on the task at hand and really internalize the proper methods for handling a gun.

You really can’t “fake” proficiency with firearms. The attitude of trying to “fake it” with guns is extremely dangerous and can get you or someone else seriously hurt (or killed in the author’s case).

If someone doesn’t like guns, they don’t have to own one. Simple as that.

If someone in your family is not interested in guns, do not force them into it.

Just ask them (as a favor to you) to memorize the NRA‘s 3 Rules of Gun Safety and let them pursue their own activities and interests.

Needless to say you are responsible for your own safety and that of others around you when it comes to firearms.


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Posted in Handguns, Mindset, True Crime
3 comments on “Negligence from the New York Times
  1. tfhdc says:

    Thank you for detailing the correct procedure for decocking a revolver or a hammer fired pistol.


  2. […] Negligence from the New York Times ( […]


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