This.puma guy wrote:Habitual behavior can become so automatic that the mind assumes it is done.
Other than complete idiocy--like the story this week out of Houston where two young men were killed by the same gun supposedly because it "accidentally" went off all on its own--administrative handling of firearms is going to be the time you're more at risk for a negligent discharge than any other. We may not believe we can become complacent, or be distracted to the point that safety might be compromised, but the odds--and the bell curve--are not in our favor.
If I count press-checks, administrative clearing (not counting double-checking when clearing), cleaning, and function checks...I just did a rough estimate and came up with between 350 and 400 administrative handling instances per month; call it 350 to low-ball it. That's at least 4,200 instances per year; 42,000 per decade. Or about 46,200 instances just since I've been a member of this Forum. A single ND during that time would mean an event that happened only 0.00216% of the time. Less than minuscule. And totally unacceptable.
Extrapolate that over a lifetime of gun ownership (imagine what the number is for an FFL or gunsmith!), and it's pretty clear the odds are not in my favor. A single ND is absolutely disastrous, and if I include live-fire practice and training in the numbers, I have thousands and thousands of possible instances every single year.
One way to help mitigate complacency and/or distraction is the establishment of patterns of behavior from which your never deviate. And it's a matter of cost vs. risk vs. reward.
It doesn't cost me much effort to make certain that all ammunition is physically separate from a firearm (or magazine) if I'm going to clean it, work on it, or dry-fire it. Doesn't take much effort, and it's an easy pattern to establish. Doesn't have to be a different room, but it does have to be physically separate and not within reach from the activity I'm performing; for me, though, unless it's a quick clean at the range or something similar, it does mean a different room because walking a few yards costs me nothing.
May sound silly, but in addition to always treating all firearms as if they are loaded, I actually tell myself--out loud if I'm at home or alone--if I change the condition of a firearm. Always the same words: "This gun is loaded," or "This gun is unloaded." A press-check before holstering in the morning: "This gun is loaded." Before cleaning, gunsmithing, or dry-firing, I'll clear, move live ammo to a different location, clear again, then: "This gun is unloaded." I know it seems stupid, but again, it costs me nothing and it's another patterned step that brings my focus to the here and now by announcing, with a declarative statement, my recognition of the confirmed state of the firearm. Takes zero effort and zero time, but might offer a big reward by possibly preventing an ND.