Monday, November 23, 2009

Did Jeff Cooper Preach To The Unhearing?

...A local man ignored the Four Rules and killed his wife. He was trying out a new magazine for his handgun and forgot at least three of the rules. He put a bullet through an interior wall and his wife was on the other side. He's widower now. It's been ruled an accident and he won't be facing charges from anyone but himself.

Because the Other Side will exploit it, some gunnies don't like mentioning this kind of situation. I think we shouldn't look away and we darned well ought not leave it to the blood-dancers. It is a tragedy. All the more so in that there is a succinct guide to avoiding this exact situation:

1. All guns are always loaded. (All the time.)
2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.
3. Keep your finger off the trigger until the sights are on the target. (Or, "until you are ready to shoot.")
4. Be sure of your target and what's behind it.

You will have a negligent discharge some day. Col. Cooper went to a lot of trouble to figure out how to limit the damage. Please pay attention.

Tamara points out that any -- any -- autoloader can discharge when you drop the slide on a live round. It doesn't happen very often; designers work to prevent it; but it does happen. (This is how come they have sand barrels in places where you've got to reload and there's no proper range and backstop). When it does, you'd better be pointed in a safe direction.

With the Four Rules, a hole in the floor and ringing ears; maybe a hole in something in the basement. Without 'em, a life lost.


sam said...


Tango Juliet said...

Rule #5: Seniority and experience do not override rules one through four.

Tam said...

To kill your spouse of forty years because you effed up? I don't think they could sentence him to anything worse than what he's already going through.

Tango Juliet said...

Furthermore, my own observations indicate we're our own worst enemies. So many seem to act as if the four rules were written for everyone else. Either that, or they've never heard of these four rules.

I have worked "security" at the front door of semi-annual gunshow in years past. The job consists of checking guns in and out as they pass through the door.

I wish I had a nickel for every time I've been covered.

Had one old gentlemen proudly display his heavily engraved Walther PPK and of course, the muzzle was on me regardless of where I moved. I finally had to physically push it aside so that I was no longer in the line of fire.

'Course he was insulted.

Why give an accident a chance to happen?

Stranger said...

Col. Coopers four rules have not received sufficient media coverage to really have an effect - except among the already gun wise.

They deserve more publicity, something that will not occur "until the revolution" when safe gun handling will become part of the school curriculum.

Speed the day.


John Peddie (Toronto) said...

Please, folks, keep repeating that sentence of Roberta's: "You WILL have a negligent discharge some day".

I didn't think it could happen to me, after almost 50 years of guns in my hands.

Cooper's rules (and, long ago, a former WW II range instructor) limited the direct damage to one very scared (and unharmed) whitetail buck.

Collateral damage consisted of my bruised ego, self-loathing etc.

Lorimor's Rule #5 is well taken: "Seniority and experience do not override rules one through four."

I neglected Number 3, therby proving Number 5.

Anonymous said...

I've had one ND to date (and will try like heck to never have another). It happened at the range, with a brand-new 1911A1. I was not yet used to a target trigger, and I violated Rule 3 by firing a shot, and then releasing the trigger...and then putting my finger BACK on the trigger before I was lined up on the target. The trigger was light enough that the bang actually surprised me.

The hole was on paper but way the heck off-center. Startled the daylights out of me, but that was a relatively easy, low-cost lesson.

I've had a difficult time figuring out a "safe" direction at home in which to point when chambering a round for the carry gun after cleaning. That's in the basement, so I've settled on the 5-gallon plastic water container. If I drop the slide and it goes bang, I'll have some water on the floor, but I'm pretty sure a .45 won't go through with much velocity left.

What do others use as a safe direction, or backstop within the house when reloading an auto?

Anonymous said...

Hence the sadly un-ubiquitous "clearing barrel." That's a standard 55 gallon steel barrel full to the brim with fine sand. OK, I've also seen the standard 42 gallon oil barrel used, same difference.

I'm a personal fan of a 5 gallon bucket full of fine sand, and a traffic cone over for a "clearing bucket." Fortunately, haven't fired into it yet.

Ed Skinner said...

When I was first learning to shoot, I was at a match with no less than three US national champion pistol shooters. My companion, an expert himself, said "Sit behind that fellow right there and, whatever he does, you do too because he's #1 in the US right now."

And within ten minutes, that national champion shot a hole in the table.

Lesson learned.

Anonymous said...

The TV was giving me weird looks.

Really, it was.

Also, I learned old fashioned TVs do provide good cover, at least for 110gr +P+ loads.


Rick R. said...

A 5-gallon bucket full of sand should suffice for most handguns -- those 55-gallon barrels will safely contain 7.62x51mm NATO ball.

If you're REALLY paranoid, pick up a cheap used bullet resistant vest to sit on top the sand.