Firearm Safety Rule #1 – Maintain Muzzle control even if hot brass is burning your boobs

By Thomas E. Cheever, P.E.

Illinois — Always, ALWAYS keep the muzzle pointed down range or in a safe direction. One McHenry, Illinois woman at a  Crystal Lake gun range forgot this most important rule and suffered the consequences.


Bad Day At The Range

A 55 year old woman was enjoying a little range time when the incident occurred.  According to the police report,

The woman fired a shot and a hot, expended shell casing landed inside her shirt. When she tried to remove it, the pistol accidentally discharged and a bullet struck her in the thigh.

‘Accidentally discharged’?  I don’t think so.  The weapon discharged because the trigger was pulled.

Firearm Safety

I get it.  Ejected brass is hot.  I’ve had an ejected .45 caliber brass drop down my shirt.  Got a nice burn on my belly to remind me to always dress appropriately for the range.  But before trying to retrieve the hot brass I ‘safed’ my Colt 1911, and set it on the bench.

The Crystal Lake woman, reacting to the hot brass, failed to maintain muzzle control.  In her effort to remove the hot brass, she shot herself in the thigh.  This could have been a whole lot worse.  Thank goodness she did not shoot the person in the next lane or harm herself more seriously.

Even if you’re an experienced shooter, it never hurts to review firearm safety rules.  The Ten Commandments of Firearm Safety are:

The Ten Commandments of Firearms Safety

  1. Always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction.
  2. Firearms should be unloaded when not actually in use.
  3. Don’t rely on your gun’s safety.
  4. Be sure of your target and what’s beyond it.
  5. Use proper ammunition.
  6. If your gun fails to fire when the trigger is pulled, handle with care.
  7. Always wear eye and ear protection when shooting.
  8. Be sure the barrel is clear of obstructions before shooting.
  9. Don’t alter or modify your gun and have it serviced regularly.
  10. Learn the mechanical and handling characteristics of the firearm you are using.

Guns Are Fun

Who doesn’t enjoy a day at the range punching holes in paper targets, or better yet, exploding water bottles and the occasional watermelon with a well placed shot. Even the most ardent anti-gun supporter, when given the opportunity to shoot, leaves the range with a smile.  I’ll admit it, guns are fun.

But like many fun things, it is absolutely essential, for everyone’s well being, that proper gun safety rules are followed.  No matter what, SAFETY FIRST!

Slamfire – any gun can malfunction, even a new one

A slamfire is a premature, usually unintended discharge of a firearm that occurs as a round is being loaded into the chamber.  Slamfires are most common in military firearms that have a free-floating firing pin, as opposed to a spring-loaded one.

Most shooters have never experienced a slamfire.  They’re rare but still very real, and a perfect example of why Rule Number 1 exists.

Stephen Floyd purchased a new Winchester SXP shotgun, only to discover an incredibly dangerous slamfire when he chambered a cartridge, even with the safety on and his hands nowhere near the trigger.

Fortunately, Floyd did everything right. Keeping the muzzle pointed downrange at all times.  Winchester quickly reacted and recalled affected weapons.  Winchester issued the following statement:

Winchester Repeating Arms has discovered that a limited number of SXP (3½-inch chamber) shotguns (also called the Super X Pump) may, under certain circumstances, unintentionally discharge while closing the action. Failure to return any affected shotguns for inspection and/or repair may create a risk of harm, including serious personal injury or death.

“If you own one of the following firearms, please immediately contact our Winchester Consumer Administrative Center to find out if your firearm is affected and should be returned. Please be prepared to provide the serial number of your firearm.”

Guns listed under the recall include are the Waterfowl Hunter (26- or 28-inch barrel), Black Shadow (26- or 28-inch barrel), Turkey Hunter (24-inch barrel) and Long Beard (24-inch barrel).

Do not load or fire any of these guns. For more information call 1-800-945-5372 or email

Lesson Learned….Hopefully

The woman was treated at the scene then transported to Centegra Hospital in McHenry for further evaluation. Police said they are not investigating the matter further, and no charges will be filed.

For her husband or significant other’s sake, the ‘puppies’ were not harmed by the hot brass and hopefully, will be let loose to ‘breathe’ this summer.

The following video is from a Winchester SXP Fail by Steven Floyd and demonstrates that any gun can malfunction.