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Wed Apr 27, 2016, 08:02 PM

A question about gun safety, rather than gun laws:

Each time I read a news story headlined "Toddler Finds Mom's Gun, Shoots (Mom / self / sister / baby)" or "One Injured When Dropped Gun Discharges at (Cracker Barrel / Target / wherever)", I'm struck by the same question:

Why do so many people who carry sidearms in public carry them with a round chambered?

When I owned a gun, I never stored it or carried it about with a round chambered. Wouldn't it be wiser to leave the rounds in the magazine until needed? (Or, in the case of a revolver, leave one empty chamber in the trigger position?

Is there a perceived advantage to carrying with a round chambered that I may be overlooking? Do owners expect that they may face situations that demand them to draw and shoot so quickly that even the split-second it takes to chamber a round, or advance the cylinder, will be more time than they can afford?

Is it as commonplace to carry with a chambered round as the headlines would make it seem, or do we just hear of those who do because, in these few cases, a tragedy has ensued?

Do the gun-safety classes required to secure a permit in many states address this question? If so, what do they have to say about it?


Thanks in advance to those who can offer insight on these questions.







13 replies, 2146 views

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Arrow 13 replies Author Time Post
Reply A question about gun safety, rather than gun laws: (Original post)
Mister Ed Apr 2016 OP
jmg257 Apr 2016 #1
SpookyDem Apr 2016 #2
Straw Man Apr 2016 #3
ManiacJoe Apr 2016 #9
Straw Man Apr 2016 #10
mark67 May 2016 #12
Straw Man May 2016 #13
sarisataka Apr 2016 #4
Lizzie Poppet Apr 2016 #5
benEzra Apr 2016 #6
beevul Apr 2016 #7
CompanyFirstSergeant Apr 2016 #8
discntnt_irny_srcsm Apr 2016 #11

Response to Mister Ed (Original post)

Wed Apr 27, 2016, 08:08 PM

1. IF you are going to need a concealed carry weapon, odds are you

Are going to need it NOW.
Maybe 1 handed.
And you may need every round it will hold, and then some.

If seriously carrying, its always ready.
And unloaded when no longer carrying.


ETA: we always taught this. And learned this.

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Response to jmg257 (Reply #1)

Wed Apr 27, 2016, 09:17 PM

2. Pretty much this

 

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Response to Mister Ed (Original post)

Wed Apr 27, 2016, 10:51 PM

3. It's a combination ...

... of several factors. First, as has been mentioned, there is the time factor: Will you have time to chamber a round? If you factor in accessing the firearm, drawing it, racking it, and aiming it, it becomes a question of seconds rather than split seconds. The Tueller drill demonstrates that an attacker who is within 21 feet can reach you before you can draw and fire a handgun, and that's with a round chambered. How much more time do you want to add?

Then there's the potential for screwing up and short-stroking the slide of your pistol because you're all sweaty and panicky, and thereby failing to chamber a round. Bingo -- instead of ready-to-use firearm in your hand, you've got a paperweight.

Finally, there's the concept of treating every firearm as if it were loaded. That's a fundamental rule, but would you still do this if you knew there was no round in the chamber? If you would -- i.e. not pointing it carelessly, not putting your finger on the trigger unless you're on an active range, not allowing anyone else to have access to it, etc. -- then you're not gaining any safety by not having a round chambered. If you wouldn't, then this pistol that you were careless with because you thought there was no round in the chamber becomes an accident looking for a time and place to happen.

Then there are the various legal complexities surrounding armed self defense. If you carry a pistol that needs to be racked before you can fire it, there will be a strong temptation to "make it ready" if you think you're in a potentially threatening situation. This is bad from a practical safety standpoint, in that you shouldn't be screwing around with your pistol in a public place, and from a legal standpoint, in that many jurisdictions would consider this "brandishing" as opposed to legitimate self defense.

All the training I've had says that the most important thing is to know your pistol and how to operate it safely. This is action-specific, to a large extent. Is it a single-action-only semi-auto? Then carry it cocked-and-locked: round chambered, hammer back, thumb safety on. This is the way SAO pistols were designed to be used. Is it a DA/SA semi-auto? Carry it hammer-down, with or without a thumb safety, which many consider redundant given the long and heavy trigger pull in double action. Is is a double-action-only semi-auto? Round chambered, hammer down. Striker-fired? Make sure that nothing enters the trigger guard when reholstering. And always follow the Four Rules.

As for revolvers, the only reason to carry with an empty chamber under the hammer was for drop safety in older revolvers. It won't prevent inadvertent firing, because cocking the hammer, whether in single or double action, will advance the cylinder, and you will then have a live round under the hammer. In any case, all modern revolvers have hammer-block safeties, rendering the "empty chamber under the hammer" scenario unnecessary: all it does is make your six-shooter into a five-shooter.

The overwhelming majority of carriers that I have encountered carry with a round chambered. That is not the cause of these tragedies. The cause of these tragedies is careless stupidity. Think your child is too weak or doesn't know how to rack a slide? Think your child can't figure out how to spin the revolver's cylinder? Think your child can't pull the trigger on a double-action revolver? Are you willing to bet your child's life on it?

A gun with a round in the chamber is safe if handled safely. A gun with no round in the chamber is not safe if handled unsafely.

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Response to Straw Man (Reply #3)

Fri Apr 29, 2016, 02:52 AM

9. Excellent write-up.

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Response to ManiacJoe (Reply #9)

Fri Apr 29, 2016, 09:53 AM

10. Thanks.

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Response to Straw Man (Reply #3)

Sun May 1, 2016, 12:40 AM

12. I'm not completely convinced yet...

One of my good friends from the neighborhood has a CCW...carries with a round chambered with a pistol that has no mechanical safety (can't remember the exact model). This is the same guy who flipped a Mustang trying to take a curve at about 70 mph...

With the ease with which one can obtain a CCW now I don't think it inspires the type of professionalism and dedication to training one would hope for...plus people are distracted, fatigued, stressed, angry...







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Response to mark67 (Reply #12)

Sun May 1, 2016, 12:53 AM

13. A gun with a safety ...

... is still not safe if it is handled unsafely. "I thought the safety was on" is right next to "I didn't think it was loaded" as an excuse for unsafe handling.

If your friend is that much of an idiot, a mechanical safety won't help.

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Response to Mister Ed (Original post)

Wed Apr 27, 2016, 11:01 PM

4. Good questions

Rather than answer point by point,I will explain what I know, have observed and teach.

Modern revolvers do not need an empty chamber. They have a hammer block that prevents the firing pin or cartridge from being stuck by the hammer until the trigger is pulled all the way. The cylinder advances as the trigger is pulled (on double action revolvers- the most common by far) so a round would move into place anyway.

The non-scientific polls I have seen on gun sites split about 90/10 for those who carry with a round chambered vs not chambered. The split is consistent +/- 5% across several sites in the past 5 years or so.

Virtually the only "pro" to carrying without a round in the chamber is the reduced chance of a negligent discharge.

There are several "cons". Life-threatening situations can develop extremely fast. A second can mean the difference between life and death. As pointed out, if a struggle is involved you may only have one free hand to operate your firearm; though there are techniques to rack a slide one handed, it is very difficult. There have been instances where a person under the stress of an attack forget to chamber the round and has suffered injury because they try to fire a gun without a round chambered.

My personal preference is to carry with a round chambered. I teach my classes the same. I promote two points to reduce the risk of negligent discharges.

First I teach positive weapon retention. I dislike off body carry as it is far too easy for a gun carried in a purse, briefcase, etc. to be misplaced, stolen or otherwise fall into unauthorized hands. For holster I recommend a holster with active retention. Even a simple snap strap will keep a gun from falling out. If a person chooses open carry (I discourage that) I recommend using at least a level 2 retention holster.

Second is religious adherence to the rules of safe gun handling. A person's finger should not move to the trigger until the decision to fire is made. That .1 second it takes to move the finger to the trigger is the last chance to rescind the firing decision. Placing the finger on the trigger for any reason besides firing (such as a threat or to "be ready" is criminally reckless.

I hope this answers you questions.

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Response to Mister Ed (Original post)

Thu Apr 28, 2016, 02:23 PM

5. For me (a small female), it's the one-handed operation problem.

 

While, thankfully, no self-defense situation is particularly probably, if one does happen, for soemone like me (small female), there's a fair chance it might include the attacker trying to get their hands on me. I'm not strong or skilled enough to remotely count on getting both hands free to rack the slide.

Fortunately, both of my usual carry guns, regardless of which I pick, have reliable drop safety provisions and I shoot a lot (so operation of the safeties is completely second nature).

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Response to Mister Ed (Original post)

Thu Apr 28, 2016, 06:18 PM

6. Most such incidents involve people leaving guns within reach of young children,

failing to use a holster (or using a crappy one), using an old gun that's not drop-safe, or someone grabbing the gun by the trigger after they fumble it. Often a combination of all of the above.

A decent defensive firearm shouldn't go off if it's dropped, or even thrown off a building. And if it does drop, let it hit the ground and come to rest, then pick it up by the grip; don't try to snatch it out of the air. It won't go off if you drop it, but it will if you pull the trigger trying to catch it.

As to why keep a round chambered, if you are carrying a pistol, it isn't just the time factor, it's that chambering a round requires two hands (as others have mentioned). If you are in imminent danger of death or serious bodily harm that you can draw a gun and shoot, you almost certainly need that other hand to fend off your attacker, get to cover, get your children to safety, etc. And if you are carrying a revolver, leaving the cylinder ahead of the hammer empty doesn't make it child safe, because if a child can pull the trigger once, they can pull it twice. Keep it on your person IN A HOLSTER or under your direct supervision, and store it where a young child won't access it.

As an aside, I am a fan of manual safeties in addition to passive safeties, and the one gun I typically carry IWB (Smith & Wesson Lady Smith 9mm) has one. They aren't for everyone or for all situations/carry modes, but they are another option to consider.

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Response to Mister Ed (Original post)

Thu Apr 28, 2016, 07:54 PM

7. I don't carry...

 

And have no desire to.

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Response to Mister Ed (Original post)

Thu Apr 28, 2016, 08:47 PM

8. I'm going to weigh in here...

 

...and tell a slightly different story.

I carry a .38 Smith revolver (OK it's a .357 but I carry .38s in it and 'thirtyeight' is much more jury friendly)

It has, what, a 16 pound trigger pull?

When I trained on (but never carried) the Glock, I was immediately struck by how light the trigger pull is.

I suppose one could use the 'New York Trigger' (10 lbs thereabouts) but the feel is not intuitive, in that there is no hammer to watch rise and then fall. It's just a miserable trigger until it goes bang.

I know people who carry Glocks, some carry empty chamber. I kind of agree with the decision.

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Response to Mister Ed (Original post)

Fri Apr 29, 2016, 11:39 AM

11. I have to rec this thread

I say rec equally for some of the excellent relies below and for the OP in searching for information.

Thanks to all of you.

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