My Lucky Day

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53 Responses

  1. Avatar Jaybird says:

    This was a great story.Report

  2. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    Did you compose this in MSWord? (It has some weird characters I associate with Word, like right and left quotes, that are displaying funny for me.)Report

    • Avatar Rod Engelsman says:

      I composed it in OpenOffice (so, yeah, sorta the same), and then saved it as a text file. Then I thought I had cleaned the tags and such up sufficiently in Notepad but, alas, a few boo-boo’s snuck through.

      Some sort of guide for how best to compose and submit a guest post would be welcome. We don’t have access to the WordPress composer like the contributors.Report

  3. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    Same thing happened to a friend of mine. Sort of. He was part of this tightly-knit group of friends after high school and they were all hanging out when his older friend, who was being pestered about playing with his gun there by his younger sister, showed her it was ‘unloaded’ by pointing it at his head and blowing his brains out. I’m glad I wasn’t there. That group of friends never gets together anymore.Report

    • Avatar ThatPirateGuy says:

      I have really tried to stay away from the issue as my experience with guns is: an inherited rifle in the closet, family friend murdered, wife’s nephew murdered, man in my gaming circle accidentally killed by his own daughter while she thought she was protecting the home, wife mugged, shot a rifle once at a fair, was close friends in college with survivors of the pearl high shootings including a women who saw her best friend gunned down in front of her..

      At this point I start wondering if we would be better off repealing the second amendment and the hunters can just use bows.

      Likely it is best that I don’t make the laws.Report

      • Avatar M.A. says:

        And I was challenged by laughers who refused to believe the data and then started pooh-poohing it when pointing out you’re more likely to be involved in a gun accident in your own home than to successfully use the gun to repel an “invader.”Report

    • Avatar Will H. says:

      I know a guy that blasted his face pretty bad with a shotgun that had jammed. He turned it around to look down the barrel. He lived, but he is messed up bad, in an elephant man kind of way.

      I am good friends with a family where the youngest boy was recently sentenced on criminal charges for having shot his best friend. It was a BB gun, but the BB went into the other kid’s eye, and he lost the eye. I think the kid is only like 12 or 13. A terrible situation for everyone involved.Report

  4. Avatar Winnie says:

    If we didn’t have idiots there would not be any gun issue.Report

  5. Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

    With regards to kids and guns, if you are a gun owner one of the best things you can do is to get the kids around your guns a lot. Make them boring, not tabboo. My kids have seen guns so much in our house they think of them as furniture.Report

    • Avatar Artor says:

      They’re loud & stinky for kids, too. And all those fiddly bits, and all the cleaning you have to do…Report

    • Avatar Rod Engelsman says:

      I don’t know, man. That was the kind of household where this occurred. Where guns were just around like part of the furniture. I agree with familiarizing them with them, teaching them how to use them properly, etc. But I don’t believe that guns should just be a casual part of the furnishings in a home.

      Personally, I don’t own any lethal furniture.Report

  6. Avatar SpeleoFool says:

    Yikes! What a story…. I’m glad you’re still around to tell it.

    I agree with everything you said, except one fine point upon which I must split hairs–that people who do not own guns “can’t possibly be part of the problem.”

    Gun safety is really everyone’s problem. The responsibility of gun owners to secure and handle their firearms is obvious. Clearly the bulk of the burden falls upon them.

    However, those who don’t own firearms may nevertheless find themselves around them some day. Whether or not you’ll ever handle a firearm yourself, it pays to know the rules of firearms safety so you can observe when others are not following them. Even if you don’t own a gun and you’re with a friend or family member who you feel knows a heck of a lot more about them than you do, it’s your responsibility to call them out when you feel they’re being unsafe. Chances are, you’ll earn their respect for being observant and safety-conscious.

    With so much contention and divisiveness in the gun debate, I think it’s worthwhile to underscore that gun safety is one area where both sides can agree. Gun owners who don’t respect safety are a hazard to themselves, to the people around them, and to my right to own firearms responsibly.Report

    • Avatar Jeff No-Last-Name says:

      The rules I learned are:
      1:Never point a gun at someone unless you mean to shoot them; even then, you should probably need to kill them.
      2: A gun is ALWAYS loaded, even when it can’t possibly be
      3: Never point a gun at anyoneReport

      • Avatar SpeleoFool says:

        Absolutely. The NRA has a good list* on their site:

        “Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot” is one that bothers me when I see it violated, and it’s also the rule I’ve most frequently seen broken. It seems like it’s mostly people inexperienced with firearms, but not always. I think some people feel like once they’ve checked a firearm and determined it to be unloaded that messing with the trigger is OK as long as the muzzle is pointed in a safe direction. They might want to dry-fire it to test the action, or they may think “finger-on-the-trigger” is how you hold a gun because nobody’s ever told them otherwise. Or else it’s not a big deal “because the safety is on.” It’s a terrible habit to develop (or to tolerate if it’s not you doing it) because it leads to accidents.

        * sorry, not sure what the syntax is to tag URLs in commentsReport

    • Avatar Rod Engelsman says:

      Gun owners who don’t respect safety are a hazard to themselves, to the people around them, and to my right to own firearms responsibly.

      This is an incredibly important observation. The irresponsible and careless gun owners are doing much, much more to drive the public opinion in the direction of gun control than any politician could ever do.Report

  7. Avatar b-psycho says:

    Must be some meaning to the initial Idiot Kids & Guns story not surprising me, but you still being friends afterward coming as a shock.Report

    • Avatar Rod Engelsman says:

      We were more than friends. Closer to being brothers really. We’re both were the youngest of large families, and in my case, all my older siblings were out of the house by the time I was in junior high. That and it is a very small town. The kind of small where you really can’t afford to throw away friends for little things like almost killing you or something.Report

  8. Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

    Real quick, for the uninitiated, the 4 Rules of Gun Safety are:

    1) All guns are loaded – ALWAYS!
    2) Never point a gun at anything you are not willing to destroy.
    3) Always be sure of your target & what is behind it.
    4) Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to fire (AKA Keep your booger-hook off the bang switch).

    Essentially, you can break one rule, and probably not hurt anyone. Break 2 or more at once, and bad things almost always happen.

    IMHO – most accidents are because rules 1 & 3 are broken.Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP says:

      My version of Rule 2 is even simpler: do not point a weapon at anyone and not shoot him immediately.

      Do not shoot anyone at point-blank range. Four reasons:

      2.1 It gets messy. Trust me on that.
      2.2 Your target can snatch your weapon.
      2.3 Keep at least 10 meters away: the target may attempt to run.
      2.4 Shoot for the centre of mass. Head shots are for Hollywood.

      Shooting people ain’t Hollywood. You shoot them twice, once to drop them and again to make sure they stay down. Do not talk to your target. You will lose your nerve and you will get shot. Do not advance on your target or you will become a target. You stay down. You move away from your shooting position immediately and take up another. Quickest way to get killed is to walk into your own field of fire: you fire a weapon and you will attract attention from More Targets.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

      This dufus broke none of those rules. I presume there are others that apply.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        Those are the 4 rules of safety. When it comes to transport &/or carry, there are smart things, like:

        -If merely transporting, unload the firearm & use a gun case.
        -If carrying a handgun, use a holster (this is the rule that idiot broke). Even if it’s in your pocket, use a holster, one that covers the trigger guard & is stiff enough to prevent something from catching on the trigger.
        -Stop touching your gun
        -The more you mess around with your firearm, the more you risk a negligent discharge*
        -Do NOT attempt to catch a dropped gun. Let it hit the ground, then pick it up.*
        -Seriously, stop touching your gun!**

        This is one of the reasons I’ve been harping on training, because most of these idiots get a permit, have little to no training, & get their information on some Mall-Ninjas blog.

        *There are no accidental discharges from modern firearms. Modern firearms are drop tested from about 10 feet to ensure they will not discharge, & if the trigger & guard are covered properly, a gun will not fire if it is knocked against something. Basically, unless the gun is quite old, or modified, it is almost impossible to fire it without pulling the trigger. So when they do fire, it’s because someone, or something, pulled the trigger.

        **Anytime a gun has to be handled, the probability of an accidental discharge goes from zero to a value greater than zero. Most carry accidents are the result of people messing around with their gun while carrying (and the rest are mostly people with worn out or modified holsters that no longer protect the trigger).Report

        • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

          What about transporting it with a round chambered and the safety off? This dufus did that every time “because I might be in a situation where I need to use it right away”. Is that as stupid as it sounds to me? (Based on comparing the probability of an unintended discharge vs. the probability of needing to fire it within a split-second while watching a movie.)Report

          • Avatar Kolohe says:

            If you can’t flip the safety off while transitioning to a firing position, you’re going to be worthless in a firefight anyway.Report

            • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

              Flipping a safety is actually trickier in a firefight than most people think (small, specific motions are hard to do when your system just flooded itself with adrenaline, versus macro motion, like racking the slide or aiming at the center of mass). It’s why a lot of firearms these days have internal safeties, or grip safeties, or trigger safeties, or a combination thereof.

              Most handgun training is focused on clearing the holster with your finger off the trigger, getting your sights on target quickly, & then putting your finger on the target & pulling smoothly. Then putting follow-up rounds at the same place.

              Nothing about racking the slide, or messing with a safety.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                That’s what I want in a movie theater, some untrained dufus whose system is flooded with adrenaline ready to start firing at a split-second’s notice.Report

              • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

                You do realize you just described a lot of the police in America, right?Report

              • Avatar M.A. says:

                Which presents another problem, and is one of the reasons that cops in a number of other countries don’t get guns without being part of special units.Report

              • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

                I think many people don’t realize just how much the public takes it’s cue from the police. If the police walk around with a stick and a .38 revolver, how dangerous can things be? When they star carrying 9mm semi-autos & a 12-gauge in the cruiser, things must be getting dicey. Today your average police cruiser has a cop wearing heavy-duty body armor with a taser, mace, a stick, a large caliber semi-auto handgun, a 12 gauge, & an AR-15/M-16 patrol rifle. Add in the cops running around in BDUs, and suddenly life in America must be downright dangerous!

                Better go get one of those AR-15s, and a .45 to go with my carry permit…Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                I thought they had to pass firearms proficiency tests.Report

              • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

                Sure, hit the target at the range. Anyone, with a little instruction, can pass a police firearms qualification test pretty easily.

                In a firefight situation, it all goes to hell unless you have training for shooting while moving & taking fire. There are things called simunitions, which are basically paintballs for real guns, that SWAT teams, & some departments use, to teach shooting under stress. Some departments encourage their officers to engage in competition shooting (again, shooting under stress; see USPSA & SCSA for some examples).

                There are probably a lot of civilian shooters who would be cooler in a firefight than your average cop specifically because they shoot in competitions a lot.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                How many people do you know who can steer while hydroplaning?
                Same thing, only with cars. (The only guy I know who can do it, learned it in Arkansas, driving over fords)
                The skill needed to pass a “hit the target at the range” is WAY different from the skill needed to deal with an actual armed attacker.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Speak for yourself. I was taught to flip the safety just before pulling the T bar and shouldering the weapon. But then, that was US Army M-16 SOP.Report

              • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

                Yep, I know that drill.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe says:

                “Most handgun training is focused on clearing the holster with your finger off the trigger, getting your sights on target quickly, & then putting your finger on the target & pulling smoothly. Then putting follow-up rounds at the same place.”

                This pretty much corresponds with the pistol training I received in the military (with the standard issue 9mm Beretta). Though when holstered, the safety was always on. (and depending on conditions, sometimes a magazine was loaded with a round chambered, and sometimes not (either chambered or with no magazine loaded) – though the prevalence of the former over the latter changed over time)

                Fwiw, at the beginning of the qualification shoot – with the pistol unholstered – you raise the pistol and take the safety off.Report

              • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

                Police used to carry with the safety on. At one point, however, it was believed that officers were getting killed because they kept forgetting to turn the safety off under stress, so they started to leave the safety off. Manufacturers responded by developing different types of safeties that are dis-engaged just by holding the gun properly.Report

          • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

            If it’s in a holster that covers the trigger, it’s not a big deal (most cops go around with a round in the chamber, because they have that nice holster that keeps the gun covered).Report

    • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

      “Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to fire”

      Whenever I hand a gun to an inexperienced shooter I always watch the trigger. Nine times out of ten their finger will automatically go to it. It’s almost just human instinct.Report

    • Avatar Rod Engelsman says:

      Yep. But here’s the deal… we knew that at the time. We had both taken the Hunter Safety Course.

      The problem really is the nature of adolescence. The feeling of immortality and indestructibility. Of being sure that you’re a lot smarter than you really are.

      It takes a while to develop Safety OCD.Report

  9. Avatar Citizen says:

    Glad your still with us Rod.
    Dancing with trains was always something I questioned the safety of.Report

  10. Avatar zic says:

    I’ve read and re-read this, Rod, and each time, I get that sick churning feeling in my stomach.

    I think this gets to the nub: Rather, this essay is about personal responsibility. We’re constantly being told that we can’t infringe upon the rights of the law-abiding, responsible, gun owners in our efforts to reduce gun violence and death. Well, what does that look like, exactly? What is responsible gun ownership?

    One aspect of responsible gun ownership is that we not have to worry about people owning guns. But we do. I had to have a level of confidence and trust that the parents of my children’s friends had a sense of responsibility, that they weren’t going to find themselves in the situation you were in. Too many times, I had my children come home and tell me about unsecured guns and boxes of ammo around homes. I never let them go back to those houses.

    My biggest concern, beyond irresponsible ownership, is that we need to have a very big national discussion about what defending yourself means. I know I sound like a broken record, but: I am unarmed; yet I still have the right to defend myself. I have a lot of concerns about the notion that you’re not defended, not protected, if you’re not armed. I suspect this is reinforced by simply not comprehending what dangers exist, an over-emphasis on crime, without proportionality and context. Arming yourself for self defense sort of implies that you’re willing to use that weapon; it seems important to me to ask if opting for a gun for self defense is already a step down the slippery slope of irresponsibility if you don’t comprehend the statistics of crime. Does it change how you think, how you respond, does it put you at risk of become part of the gun problem? But I do not believe the answer to bad guys with guns is good buys with guns simply because I believe people are complicated, and yesterday’s bad guy is tomorrow’s good guy.

    But I’m thankful, beyond saying, it was a window screen and not you.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      I’m just troubled by the lack of strategic thinking that most people seem to exhibit.

      1) If you’re just there to defend your life and your family’s, use a good steel door (preferably leading upstairs, so the robbers can steal stuff without needing to get anywhere near you). Bonus: if someone’s really out to rape/murder, they’ll need to get a ladder, or have a good set of lockpicks.
      Seriously, it works even when you’re sleeping. And against multiple people with Guns!

      2) If you’re out, and someone tries to mug you — they have the jump on you. You are NOT going to manage to take them out with your gun buried in your purse (or jacket). They have the gun already aimed, and may very well be ready to shoot. Don’t be stupid, being stupid gets people hurt.

      3) The odds that a reasonably prepared mugger is NOT going to be able to disappear before a “bystander” shows up are extremely high.

      4) If you’re up against anything more serious than a mugging, expect an ambush. Either a blow to the back of the head, or people shooting from cover, or something that a gun is probably not going to help with. I’m not saying talk about assassins… but, seriously, folks!


      5) There are times when a gun provides effective deterrence/defense. Those are when you are the fortified party, and you have plenty of warning to go and get your gun. People tend to not think about how long it’s going to take them to get their gun — and what other people are going to do while that’s going on.Report