A loud ringing in the ears.
It can happen to any of us, at any time, if you let your concentration slip.
If you drive a car long enough, chances are that you're going to be involved, somehow, in an incident where there is bent metal and scratched paint.
If you carry a gun long enough, it's very possible that you will have a lapse resulting in a circumstance that will arise, in which you hear a loud Bang, when you didn't mean to.
Without going into unnecessary detail, it's happened to me. No, not recently, but it has happened. My ears rang, and I suddenly felt a very cold sweat, as I rethought my actions and figured out what I had done to make this happen.
While I'm ashamed that I have
I was amongst a little gathering of friends recently, and was enjoying the company. We got to talking guns, and I asked my friend about his* handgun, and the trigger. He unholstered, unloaded it, and handed it to me. I looked it over, quick-checked the chamber, and aimed at a spot on the floor as I began to squeeze the trigger...
And I stopped.
What had I really seen when I "quick-checked" the chamber? Well, it was empty, of course. Hell, I had just seen my friend unload it. But hadn't I just seen a glint of bright metal where I should have seen black void?
I checked again, and was rewarded with the ejection of a quality hollowpoint round, which I had been about to discharge into the floor, amongst a group of friends. I gave it to my friend.
Now, I believe that I had it pointed in a safe direction. I believe that I wouldn't have hurt anyone, excepting their hearing. But I know that I would have had to have left that gathering, tail tucked, and might not have been able to look some of those people in the eye again, for a long time.
I thought a lot about this incident. I think of myself as a safety person. Well, so does a cabinetry-maker friend of mine who is missing some distal digits. He's obsessive about his methods of keeping the rest of them, and gives direct instruction in his shop. Well, I'm a firearms instructor, and this blog is my "shop," so I suppose I'd best give direct instruction. I have found that personal experience stories are instructive, which is why I told you about this one, today.
What do we learn?
1. Practice all of the Four Rules. If one slips, the others should keep a tragedy from occurring.
2. When you are handed a firearm, or pick one up, check its status, and see what you are looking at. Don't just go through the motions. Better yet, be redundant in your check: RACK the slide back, or push the ejector rod through the cylinder three times. You might not get an ejection, but you're not going to miss seeing it three times in a row.
3. Avoid fiddle-farting with guns among others, except with a designated backstop that you all face, and only handle them at the firing line.
This last one sounds harsh, I know.
There are harsher things to hear, though.
* The name will be anonymous, and don't assume anything by the masculine pronoun; I flipped a coin before deciding which gender to portray my friend as.