Category Archives: Negative Outcomes

Serious Gunowner Mistakes – Unintentional Discharges (Part I)

One of the categories of Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make http://seriousgunownermistakes.com is ‘Unintentional Discharges.’ A colleague texted me this question.

Would it be fair to say that most of the negligent shootings on ranges are when people are re‑holstering too quickly?

There are some definitional issues involved in answering the question. First, are we talking about ‘Shootings,’ i.e., an injury occurs, or ‘Discharges,’ where an unplanned discharge occurs that may or may not involve injury?

So far, I haven’t done a statistical analysis about Shootings, per se. However, my collection of images of extremity (hands and feet) injuries that are the result of self-inflicted gun shot wounds is many times larger than my collection of images relating to holster related injuries. It is worthy of note how gory the shotgun wounds through the foot are as a result of using those toe popper shoe attachments that are popular in the clay target sports. The injuries are similar to those caused by the M14 Toepopper Anti-Personnel Mine.

It’s sometimes difficult to tell in either case whether the injury occurred at the range or somewhere else. Whether the discharge occurred at the range or elsewhere may or may not be important, depending on your point of view.

My opinion is that, regardless of where they occur, holster related injuries are not the majority but they are the most publicized. The reasons are simple. First, they tend to be graphic injuries that lend themselves well to being posted and viralized on social media. Second, they are the most likely to occur where someone will capture an image or video. However, a video recently surfaced of a party in an underdeveloped part of the world at which an attendee shot himself in the hand. Nothing good comes of placing the muzzle of a pistol against the palm of your hand and pulling the trigger. His friend was very angry about the copious amount of blood that went all over his sandals.

Another definitional issue is the distinction between Unintentional Discharges (UD), Accidental Discharges (AD), and Negligent Discharges (ND). The Los Angeles Police Department Board of Police Commissioners https://www.lapdonline.org/police_commission draws a distinction between AD and ND as concerns LAPD Officers and considers each type to be a separate subset of UD. AD are caused by equipment failure, i.e., the mechanism of the firearm itself malfunctioned, which caused the Discharge. While this is rare, it does occur. By contrast, the BOPC defines ND as the result an operator error of a fully functional firearm. This distinction was made explicit in Categorical Use of Force Report 045-09 NON-TACTICAL UNINTENTIONAL DISCHARGE https://www.lapdonline.org/assets/pdf/045-09_Outside%20City-NTUD.pdf. This report was in regard to an Unintentional Discharge by an officer while Outside the City.

A. Unintentional Discharge

The definitions for an Unintentional Discharge, both Accidental and Negligent, are as follows:

Accidental Discharge: The unintentional discharge of a firearm as a result of an accident such as a firearm malfunction or other mechanical failure, not the result of operator error.

Negligent Discharge: Finding where it was determined that the unintentional discharge of a firearm resulted from operator error, such as the violation of firearm safety rules.

LAPD Board of Police Commissioners

A third definitional issue has been raised by Marty Hayes, President of the Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network. https://armedcitizensnetwork.org/ He commented that the circumstances of most Unintentional Discharges do not fit the legal definition of ‘Negligent.’ Given the firearms community’s preoccupation with the distinction between ‘clip’ and ‘magazine,’ his comment is particularly cogent. The possibility exists that a ‘Negligent’ Discharge might have to be defined in the context of Intentional but Undesirable Discharges (resulting in a Negative Outcome) rather than Unintentional Discharges.

Getting back to the original question, it is easy to make a simple numerical contrast relating to ‘Discharges.’ Observe the number of bullet impacts on the ceiling and floor of an indoor range. Almost every one of those was a Discharge that was unplanned and went somewhere other than it was intended.

I say ‘almost,’ because I was once asked to give a private lesson to a lady who literally shot her revolver like Antonio Banderas in Desperado. Most likely several rounds of each cylinder hit the ceiling. While the shots were Planned, they did not impact anywhere near the target.

There are something like 4,000 shooting facilities in the US, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation. https://www.nssf.org/shooting/where-to-shoot/ Given the number of unplanned impacts at Atlanta area ranges alone, it’s likely that Unplanned Discharges occur thousands of times daily throughout the US. However, almost all of those cause only property damage or no damage at all. So, while we can probably safely say that Unplanned Discharges are relatively common, Unplanned Shootings are relatively rare.

Part II of this series will explore the types of UDs in Serious Mistakes, discuss definitional issues further, and make some observations about preventing this undesirable phenomenon.

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Note that Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make is included with the purchase of any other book.

Recognition Primed Decision-making (part I)

Recognition Primed Decision-making is a concept developed by Dr. Gary Klein. It has become a widely accepted model for first responders, the military, and in aviation.

The RPD model is based on the idea that experience allows people to make decisions quickly without having to sort through a series of possibilities. Rather, if a situation appears similar to a past experience, the solution that worked in the previous situation can be applied or modified to provide an adequate solution for the current situation.

Since most people have not been mugged, had their home invaded, or been murdered in a previous experience, the relevant question for an Armed Private Citizen is about acquiring the experience. That is to say, ‘How do we train and practice RPD in the absence of experience?’

In order for us to think clearly about self-defense and personal protection, we need to consider ahead of time the types of people and situations we might encounter. Then we consider what our options are, based on our personal preferences and choices. Finally, we can choose ahead of time which option is best suited to deal with the person and situation.

Types of people we might encounter

  • Benign person
  • Angry person
  • Predator or angry person with personal weapons (fists, shod feet, etc.)
  • Angry person or predator with a contact weapon
  • Predator or angry person with a projectile weapons

Examples of situations

  • Area of limited visibility such as a parking deck
  • Walking alone in unfamiliar territory
  • Being in the presence of a person who makes us uncomfortable
  • Having an unknown person approach us
  • Being home in a state of Unawareness or Unfocused on personal protection
  • Etc.

What we want to avoid is the Typical, or at least Common, Self-defense Process.

Model of unsophisticated decision-making by David Blinder

Part II will go into our Options and an interview with Dr. Klein about the model.

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Consistency (again)

In my book, consistency does not mean 70%, it means 100%. I’ve written about it before https://wordpress.com/post/tacticalprofessor.wordpress.com/173323 but it’s worth mentioning again.

That’s the reason I prefer evaluation protocols that involve short 100% standards that are done repetitively. I would rather someone know exactly what they can do to a 100% standard and stay within those boundaries than have two rounds out of six going into someone else’s house.

Two NRA standards come to mind.

  1. the Red, White, and Blue Levels of the NRA Basics of Pistol Shooting
  2. the NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program – Defensive Pistol I

Naturally, I love the 5^5 standard I developed, based on Gila Hayes‘ original 5 times 4 idea.

Work on learning to do one thing consistently well, then move on to more Cool Kid Cosplay stuff.

Thinking Clearly about Self-Defense and Personal Protection

My new book is finished and available on my Payloadz store for download as a PDF.

https://www.payloadz.com/go?id=3377208

Fighting is a ‘game’ of minds.

–Rich Grassi, Editor of The Tactical Wire

Mental preparation for Personal Protection using tools is what the book is all about. Mr. Grassi’s comment encapsulates that concept superbly.

This book is a collection of my articles and essays, some previously published, some unpublished, some published but no longer available. The focus is on the mental processes that lead to achieving Positive Outcomes and avoiding Negative Outcomes. Many of the articles reference actual incidents to provide context from The Real World™ for what would otherwise be hypothetical or theoretical topics.

As alluded to in the title, Self-Defense is only a subset of Personal Protection. Often the person being protected is not ourselves but a loved one, friend, or innocent bystander. While gunowners usually think of a confrontation occurring between themselves and a criminal, the fact is that we are usually around other people. The possibility that another person will probably be peripherally involved and perhaps in danger is high. This simple fact requires serious thought ahead of time because people do unexpected things under stress.

The book is organized into several sections. Each section contains a number of articles that pertain to a topic. In many cases, an article relates to several sections so the most appropriate category was used.

  • Mindset
  • Awareness
  • Know the Rules
  • Decision-making
  • Incident Analysis
  • Negative Outcomes
  • Appendix of shooting drills

No publication can be a definitive work about such a broad subject but my hope is to stimulate thinking about the complexity of the subject from a different perspective than usual. It’s 105 pages of discussion that often gets overlooked when we talk about Personal Protection.

If you would like to purchase a copy for only $7.99, here is the link.

https://www.payloadz.com/go?id=3377208

As with all my books, Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make is included with your purchase.

BOGO on Tactical Professor books

I’m grateful to my subscribers who send me news reports about the Negative Outcomes gunowners encounter. The ones about children gaining unauthorized access to guns really make me sad, especially because some folks defend practices that lead to those tragedies. Consequently, the purchase of any Tactical Professor book now includes a free copy of Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make.

In addition, I have reduced the price of Serious Mistakes by itself to $4.99. I’d make it free except that people only value things they pay for.

If anyone who has purchased any of my books would like a free copy of Serious Mistakes, email me through the About section above and I will send you one.

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Deadly Conduct and Attempted Murder

Those are the charges in two incidents where Negative Outcomes resulted from gunfire. Both situations occurred when people thought they were making good decisions about employing a firearm for Personal Protection but the legal system doesn’t agree. Unfortunately, both incidents are material for the updated and expanded Second Edition of Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make http://seriousgunownermistakes.com that will be published later this year.

Mom charged [with Deadly Conduct] after shooting her 5-year-old son while trying to target loose dog, H[ouston]PD says

https://abc13.com/mom-accidentally-shoots-her-son-trying-to-shoot-dog-5-year-old-shot-by-angelia-mia-vargas-deadlyconduct-of-a-firearm/10728726/

A mother [who was riding a bike down the street] has been charged after accidentally shooting her 5-year-old son [who was also riding his bike down the street] while trying to shoot a dog that was running across the street in north Houston, according to Houston police.

FBI agent charged [with Attempted Murder and other crimes] in off-duty shooting of man on subway

https://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/fbi-agent-charged-off-duty-shooting-man-subway-78019158

Valdivia shot and wounded the man from a distance of roughly 2 to 3 feet (0.6 to 0.9 meters) after repeatedly telling the man to back up, county prosecutor Robert Hill said in court.

The man had approached Valdivia on a train, sat across from him and asked the agent for money, Hill said. The man muttered expletives and began to walk away when the agent said he didn’t have any money to give, the prosecutor added.

‘Watch your mouth,’ the agent told the man, according to Hill.

After the man turned and approached him again, Valdivia pulled a gun from a holster and shot him, the prosecutor said. Another passenger was in the agent’s line of fire, about 15 feet (4.6 meters) away, [which resulted in an additional charge of Reckless Endangerment] but wasn’t harmed, Hill added.

Note that getting the last word in, e.g., “Watch your mouth,” is not the way to Break Contact. Breaking Contact (Part I) The moment a criminal, or in this case undesirable, breaks contact, let it go. If possible, increase your distance by going in the opposite direction. Moving away from an adversary is a good skill to practice, probably far more useful in everyday life than practicing shooting on the move.

Guns are not general purpose tools for Personal Protection. They are special purpose tools that are useful only in a very limited set of circumstances. The legal system did not believe either of these incidents fell within that set of circumstances. Probably both persons charged will end up pleading to lesser offenses. Whether those will be felonies or not remains to be seen.

The mother’s relationship with her son is unlikely to ever be the same and she may lose her right to own a firearm forever. The FBI Agent’s once promising career is over, even if he is acquitted on all the charges, which is unlikely. At best, he can hope to keep his job as an FBI Agent, if he wins acquittal. The chances he will ever advance or get a good assignment again are minuscule.

Minuscule – very small

If you carry a gun, carry pepper spray, PERIOD. Lacking a non-lethal force option implies that all you are willing and capable of doing to defend yourself and your loved ones is to kill someone. That’s not a rational decision.

Whether it was necessary to do anything in the dog incident at all is questionable but using pepper spray as a defensive tool would have had less consequences. Also try to avoid or deal with having irrational fears about dogs.

The important thing in viewing these stories is not to harsh on the persons involved because that’s easy but non-productive. Rather, try to learn something from their misfortunes.

  • Do you consistently carry a non-lethal force option?
  • Have you practiced with your NL force option using an inert version?
Practicing with an emptied inert unit
  • If you have irrational fears, have you confronted them and programmed yourself with a rational response to the trigger?
  • Have you mentally and physically practiced breaking contact?

Gaining knowledge from others’ experiences is one of the useful legs of Will Rogers’ learning triad. https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/116468-there-are-three-kinds-of-men-the-ones-that-learn

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Children are creative

The statement was that the child put a speaker next to (the shelf) to crawl up and get (the gun)

Crawford County Prosecutor Matt Crall

Grandmother charged after her 4-year-old Galion grandson shoots himself dead with her unsecured pistol.

https://www.mansfieldnewsjournal.com/story/news/2021/06/01/grandmother-charged-after-4-year-old-galion-boys-shooting-death/5291799001/

The woman had left a loaded.22 caliber, semi-automatic pistol on top of a shelf.

Leaving loaded and unsecured guns lying around, even on a top shelf, is irresponsible. I’ve known a number of people who think that’s an acceptable practice but it’s actually idiotic. When children live in the household, as the boy did in this case, it’s even worse, if that’s possible.

I’ve been encouraged to write a Second Edition of Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make. Sadly, I’ve acquired a lot of new material, although all of it follows the same pattern.

OTOH, this murderer should simply be thrown into an active volcano forthwith.

According to police, the shooter fired bullets at a residence from a nearby alleyway, and one of those bullets struck Trinity, who was jumping [on a trampoline] with friends.

Minn. Girl, 9, Is Fatally Shot While Jumping on Trampoline with Her Friends

https://people.com/crime/minnestota-girl-fatally-shot-jumping-trampoline/

Breaking Contact (Part 5)

#mindsetmonday

Our goal in personal protection is to force a break in contact. We want them to go away, or we want to go away. One or the other.

The final segment of the CCW Safe Series about my concept of Breaking Contact is posted.

https://ccwsafe.com/blog/breaking-contact-pt-5

This edition focuses on success stories. I like those.

[W]hen a concealed carrier enters a self-defense situation with the goal of breaking contact — as opposed to a goal of killing or disabling an attacker — the defender has a substantially higher likelihood of avoiding a deadly shooting or making a successful self-defense claim when all else fails.

Shawn Vincent

Cover is your friend

The teen ducked behind a tree. The prosecutor’s report said one of the rounds fired by the deputy was recovered later from that tree, and several other rounds were recovered from other trees between the teen and the deputy.

A deputy and a trooper mistakenly fired 8 rounds at an innocent boy.

https://www.kens5.com/article/news/local/maryland/no-charges-against-trooper-and-deputy-who-allegedly-shot-eight-times-at-boy-they-thought-was-a-fleeing-felon/65-9af77c24-18d5-4347-ab08-2d1656e293a2?

Be aware of not only who is around you but what is around you, including things that can prevent you from getting ventilated.

Trooper 1 stated to investigators that at the time he exited his patrol vehicle he believed the gunshots he was hearing (Deputy 1’s gunshots) were actually that of LEATHERMAN towards himself. He stated he fired in self-defense at LEATHERMAN believing he was being shot at.

My Battalion Commander made the comment during Civil Disturbance training that the POlice are, at most, used to operating in pairs. Pairs generally only exist in large urban areas. When an ad hoc group of POlice come together, such as in this case, it’s very easy for things to go South quickly. The LAPD has very strict requirements for a supervisor to assume command as Incident Commander when groups of officers assemble. In cases such as this no such control mechanism is possible and things can easily get out of hand, as they did. My advice is that if you see a group of POlice from different agencies gathering, leave the area immediately.

Note also that Officer 1 was downrange of Deputy 1 and Trooper 1 while they were firing at the innocent bystander. Struggling with Subject 1 on the ground to take him into custody might have saved that Officer’s life.

BM is the innocent bystander

The full 27 page report from the State’s Attorney about the incident is available to download from the news article.

Another of my rules is that if I were to hear shots fired, I am going the other way as quickly as I can. Nothing good comes from ‘running to the sound of guns’ as a Private Citizen. Something something, curiosity killed the cat, something something.

Breaking Contact (Part 4)

Breaking Contact Part 4 is up.

https://ccwsafe.com/blog/breaking-contact-pt-4

Marissa Alexander,  Alexander Weiss, and Jerome Ersland are the cases discussed in the post.

The lesson for concealed carriers is that if you manage to break contact with a perceived aggressor, do not re-engage.