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Don’t Kill Yourself: Gun Safety Tips

I feel the need to review the rules of gun safety with my readers.  Not that I think any of you don’t know them.  Actually, I think most of you could recite them in your sleep.

I’m more concerned about people who get so comfortable with guns, they no longer respect what they can do.  The moment you don’t respect the lethality of a firearm, and fail to follow the rules, you will most assuredly find yourself in a bad way.

Some of you know that I am a full-time cop with an urban agency in Florida.  Well, the first call out of the gate yesterday was for a real “gun guy” who failed to follow the rules.  The good news is he lived.  The bad news is he may not be able to use his left hand…or what’s left of it…after this little gun handling faux pau.  A .357 Magnum will do that, you know.

Let me try to explain the damage that one casual disregard of the rules made.  I don’t have photos for you, so I can only hope my words are enough to impress upon you to pay attention!

The subject (I am hesitant to refer to him as a victim) shot himself in the left hand with a .357 Magnum semi-jacketed solid bullet.  The impact was at point blank range, with the hand covering the muzzle.  After shooting himself, the man went into the kitchen to find a dishrag to try to stop the bleeding, and along the way called 9-1-1.

Unable to stop the bleeding, the man stumbled outside and collapsed at the end of his driveway, where we found him on arrival.

To say he was bleeding profusely would be an understatement of colossal proportions.  Walking through his residence to make sure no one else was injured inside, I was reminded of a horror movie.  Blood trails and splatters were everywhere.

The paramedics from the fire department got the man into an ambulance and off we went, lights and siren screaming, to one of the local trauma centers.  I got the job of riding with the man in case he gained consciousness (he did), and could tell me what happened.

I watched the paramedics wrap one trauma pad after another around this guy’s hand, trying to stop the bleeding.  After the second or third pad, the main paramedic thought he had the bleeding under control and went to work checking for additional wounds.  But, within seconds, blood began to flow through the exterior trauma pad in a running stream.  Not dripping or oozing, but running as if a faucet had been turned on.

After getting to the trauma center, the ER staff went to work.  They removed the pads and bandages applied by EMS to see what they had to work with.  Mangled seems to be the best word I can muster to describe the damage done to this man’s hand.  From about the center of the palm to the edge of the hand nearest his pinky finger was obliterated.  Additionally, the ends of the pinky and ring fingers were maimed.  He had no movement in that hand.

Looking back in the ambulance before I left, I was astonished to see all of the blood-soaked rags and bandages on the floor.  Blood was smeared on multiple surfaces.  I even had blood on me, even though I never touched the guy.

It wasn’t the worst gunshot wound I’ve had to see, but it sure was messy…and avoidable.

You see, this man, who by all accounts is a bright guy, just got home from the local gun show.  He picked himself up a nice .357 Magnum, and brought his new purchase to the house to check it out.  It seems he loaded it up, and then had some problems with the gun’s function.  He began to manipulate the gun with both hands….and bang.

The bright orange stamp on his hand was supposed to let him get back into the show tomorrow, but I don’t think he’ll make it before closing.

So, let’s review the four primary rules of gun safety…

  1. All guns are always loaded.
  2. Never point the gun at anything you’re not willing to destroy.
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger.
  4. Know your target, what’s between you and the target, and what lies beyond the target.

If this gentleman had followed a couple of these, he would not have been at the hospital.  As it was, he almost died.

Death from blood loss can happen very rapidly.  Fortunately, fire-rescue was on scene very quickly.  The paramedics were able to get him stabilized and pumped enough fluid into him to keep his blood pressure up.  If he lived in a more suburban or rural area, where EMS response times are longer, his odds would not have been so good.

So please…follow the rules.  None of us are exempt from them.

By Richard Johnson

Richard Johnson is a gun writer, amateur historian and - most importantly - a dad. He's done a lot of silly things in his life, but quitting police work to follow his passion of writing about guns was one of the smartest things he ever did. He founded this site and continues to manage its operation.

One reply on “Don’t Kill Yourself: Gun Safety Tips”

Don’t hesitate to bring this subject up. Do so, over and over… it’s important.

Complacency is a killer. It’s okay to be comfortable with weapons, but it’s not okay to forget the rules through complacency. “It’s okay… I’ve done this a million times and it’s never a problem” has proceeded some truly horrific events.

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