SAN DIEGO – A 22-year-old Navy SEAL was gravely wounded early today when he shot himself in the head at his Pacific Beach home while trying to convince a companion that the pistol he was showing off was safe to handle, authorities said.
The serviceman, who had been drinking with a woman at a bar before they returned to his residence, was showing her his 9 mm handgun when the accident occurred, SDPD Officer Frank Cali said.
The man offered to let his friend hold the weapon, which he mistakenly believed was unloaded, according to Cali. When she declined, he tried to demonstrate how safe it was by putting it to his head and pulling the trigger.
That is NOT the way to verify the state of a gun.
Never point a gun at anything you are not willing to destroy. I would suspect for most people their own head is something they don’t wish to destroy.
Alcohol of course degrades your ability to make proper judgments. Guns and alcohol don’t mix.
How to verify a gun is unloaded?
Pick it up. Point it in a safe direction. Ensure your finger is off the trigger the entire time you perform this procedure. With a semi-automatic handgun, remove the magazine from the gun. Fully retract the slide and lock it in the open position. Visually inspect the chamber to ensure no round is in the chamber. Visually inspect the magazine well to ensure there is no magazine in the gun. Use your finger to tactilely verify the same (both chamber and magazine). Check again. Check a third time. If it builds your confidence in ensuring it’s unloaded, check a fourth or fifth time. If you have someone with you, have them check as well. Once you have verified it is unloaded, you can release the slide.
If you are handing the gun to someone else, first you verify the gun is unloaded. Keep the action locked open. Hand the gun to the other person. If the other person doesn’t verify the gun is unloaded on their own accord, have them verify the gun is unloaded.
If you ever set the gun down or have it otherwise out of your control for even a moment, when you pick it back up, verify the state of the gun. Gremlins exist.
We are human. We are prone to make mistakes. But we can also work to minimize our chances of making tragic mistakes by following rules.
Please do your best to avoid making the same mistake this man made.