Negligent discharges: One subject the military really doesn’t like to talk about – By Tom Ricks | The Best Defense

Looks like posting today is going to be all grabbed from Best Defense…

I had a negligent discharge while I was stationed in Hawaii. Fortunately, it was a blank round, and other than some acute embarrassment to me and my unit, there was no real harm. That and a Summary Article 15 to make the point that it WAS a serious matter.

It is disturbing that we still have these problems.  And Birdzell zeros in on the cause. We have troops that spend relatively little time handling weapons in garrison and then expect them to handle them responsibly when they are out in the field or deployed overseas.

I seem to recall that one step the Army took was to issue rifles on Day 3 of Basic training, and have the soldiers carry their weapons loaded (with blanks) all the time. Good idea. I hope that is still the case. Blanks aren’t the same thing as live rounds, of course, but they do give an audible indication of someone being stupid.

One of the other problems with teaching firearms safety in the military is that THE fundamental rule of civilian firearm safety is at odds with life in the military. Civilians are taught not to point guns at people. Soldiers, on the other hand, EXIST to point guns at other people.

By Billy Birdzell

During OIF II, a USMC helicopter pilot accidentally shot and killed himself in the ready room while spinning his pistol on his finger like John Wayne.

During my battalion’s first Iraq deployment negligent discharges of weapons caused one death and one serious injury. The first incident occurred when a lance corporal who had been a problem child pointed a Corpsman’s pistol at the Corpsman’s face in a “hey, look at me” scenario, and then negligently shot him in the head. That Marine was sentenced to several years in prison.

via Negligent discharges: One subject the military really doesn’t like to talk about – By Tom Ricks | The Best Defense.

2 thoughts on “Negligent discharges: One subject the military really doesn’t like to talk about – By Tom Ricks | The Best Defense”

  1. In my opinion, the vast majority of NDs occur because we make our Soldiers clear unloaded weapons over and over again all over the FOB. Muscle memory for them is now to simply pull the charging handle to the rear and look in the chamber. Now, this same guy goes out the wire once a month and when he clears his weapon, he fails to remove the magazine first, since he NEVER did that on the FOB. When you train the procedure incorrectly at a ratio of about 200:1, likely you’ll screw it up on the one time it counts. On one trip, I had an E5 medic in the back of an MRAP lock her bolt to the rear to load her M4 and out popped a round that hit me in the leg. She had been carrying a loaded M4 around for who knows how long, and only discovered it because she was trying to load it. Same trip, I watched another inept soldier at the clearing barrel lock bolt to rear and chamber subsequent round and was preparing to shoot into the clearing barrel before I stopped her. (Yes, I used “her” for both soldiers, but it is not only a female problem.) The problem is rampant, but totally fixable.

  2. When I was in the Navy, we had to clear the weapon we used to stand either bow Sentry (we were still using Garands ship board) and the 1944 we used for Quarterdeck watches. The procedure consisted of 1) removing the mag from the 1911 (the enbloc clip from the Garand) 2) moving the slide to the rear to lock the slide open (already done with the Garand when removing the enbloc clip), 3) inserting a finger into the chamber to insure the chamber did not have a round inserted.

    “By The Numbers” has its applications in such situations. If the procedure doesn’t include removal of the mag, you really aren’t clearing the weapon. You’re just going through the motions.

    Even when the best are involved, however, things can go awry with a short mental lapse. John Walker used to be an Ordnance Corps Officer and helped the Nationalist Chinese set up their small arms manufacturing operation. He established a Gunsmithing business in Alabama, “Walker Arms,” which made a good name for itself.

    One day, Walker had taken in a bolt action rifle for work, and one of the gunsmiths back in teh shop who took the piece asked Walker if he had cleared the weapon. ‘Of course,” replied Walker. After which the gunsmith proceeded to jack out 5 rounds from the magazine Walker thought he had cleared.

    These things can happen to all of us. Alas, usually the result is tragic.

Comments are closed.