When handling firearms we layer safety procedures because doing so is the best way to prevent maiming or killing someone by accident when handling a lethal weapon. Unfortunately people do not often observe all of these rules carefully…especially when performing what we often refer to as “administrative handling” of a firearm. Administrative tasks like loading and unloading a firearm are, believe it or not, one of the chief vectors for accidents involving firearms. Often this is because of people doing foolish things like trying to manipulate the weapon with their finger on the trigger. Every now and then, though, your finger doesn’t need to be on the trigger:
The video captures what is commonly referred to as a “slam fire”, a circumstance where the closing of a weapon’s action on a live round will actually cause the round to fire. In this case it is a pump-action shotgun where clearly a part is broken or sufficiently out of spec that the act of chambering a shell causes the weapon to fire. It is possible for this condition to exist with any semi-automatic, pump-action, bolt action, or lever-action firearm…pretty much anything that isn’t a revolver. I’ve witnessed a slam fire in person on a couple of occasions with semi-automatic rifles with broken parts. Thankfully no one was hurt in those instances because the people handling those weapons did so with rule 1 in mind.
When handling a firearm, do not take for granted that it is in proper working order. Although this sort of thing does not happen very often, it does happen. That is why the first law of firearms safety is to keep the muzzle from covering anything you are not prepared to destroy. I’m sure the person who purchased this firearm had never experienced a slam fire before and was quite shocked when it happened…but by treating the weapon with proper respect they avoided hurting anyone and we got a useful video about why we layer safety practices rather than a news story about a preventable tragedy.
When it comes to firearms safety, take nothing for granted. If you treat every firearm you handle with the expectation that it will maim or kill if you screw up, odds are you won’t ever maim or kill anyone.