Washington man gets painful lesson in how to safely unload his XD

By Editor, Jan 5, 2015 | |
  1. Editor
    Two weeks ago an unidentified Springfield owner found out the hard way the proper procedure for unloading his handgun after he accidentally shot himself in the leg-- as he unholstered his handgun while seated in his truck.

    The town

    Located between Seattle and Tacoma in King County Washington is the ville of Federal Way. This metropolis of some 89,000 is currently the 10th largest city in Washington State. Originally, a logging town, Wiki says that the town is home to Weyerhaeuser, the largest private owner of softwood timberland in the world and has a series of timber related attractions to include the giant Federal Way Transit Center clock, in the shape of a cut log, and a bonsai garden.

    The Federal Way Transit Center clock (Photo: Wiki)

    It is the kind of place you just do not expect random gunplay, especially inside your own truck.

    The incident

    According to the Federal Way Mirror's police blotter:

    At 6:29 p.m. on Dec. 20 in the 5400 block of SW 316th Place, officers responded to a second accidental gunshot wound at St. Francis Hospital's emergency room. A 28-year-old man arrived at the hospital with a gunshot wound to his left thigh. Hospital staff told police he shot himself as he unholstered his handgun while seated in his truck.

    Officers interviewed the man who told them as he was parking his truck, he removed his Springfield XD 9mm from the hoster {sic} and removed the magazine. But when he attempted to lock the slide to the rear with his left hand, the slide slipped from his grip and a round discharged, striking him. The bullet had gone through his thigh, into the driver's seat. He started banging on the door, which his cousin opened and drove him to the hospital.

    Gun safety 101

    First, let's cover the big four

    Tragically, this may have been avoided with proper use of range and firearms safety tenets.
    To help keep negligent discharges to a minimum, remember four things.


    These 'golden four' safety rules, if followed 100 percent, will eliminate all but the most freak of accidents with firearms no matter if they are on the range, in the home, or elsewhere.

    1. Treat every firearm as if it's loaded. This means anything you would do with the gun while unloaded, is the same thing you would do with it ready to fire. I can personally tell you of two negligent discharges I witnessed with people when people who knew better pulled the trigger on a gun they just 'knew' was unloaded.

    2. Never point a firearm at anything that you do not intend to destroy. This includes any and all horseplay with firearms-- especially if you forget rule number one above. This translates into the concept of proper muzzle-control. Remember, the only things that are cleared to point a firearm at is a target, berm, or threat. Moreover, even with that, keep in mind all of the other rules.

    3. Always be sure of your target and what is beyond it or behind it. Bullets are funny things. Even low-powered rimfire ammo can travel significant distances and penetrate walls, doors, etc. Keep this in mind even in self-defense instances.

    4. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are on target. Ah trigger discipline, or commonly just called TD. It's pretty hard for a firearm to just suddenly go off unless the trigger is pulled back successfully. If your trigger finger is aligned down the side of the trigger well, or better, down the side of the slide, until you are ready to fire, the less likely you are to shoot yourself in the leg or accidentally wing an innocent bystander. "Booger hook off the bang switch!"

    Now, for unloading

    First, make sure the weapon is completely unloaded. This means drop the magazine to remove the source of ammunition. Once you have the mag away (it's best to put it in another room entirely), cycle the gun one, two, three times. How many times was that?


    You do this so that you absolutely ensure that the gun is unloaded. You see, if you forgot to remove the magazine (these things happen) when you cycle that slide three times and still see bullets coming out, you should be able to figure out what step you forgot here. Once you have racked the slide three times and no longer have any brass or ammo visible in your weapon or on your workspace, you are ready to proceed.

    Be safe out there.

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